Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

They ARE all trying to kill me!

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, July 19, 2009

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I must terribly apologize to you, the valued reader of our insane, twisted rants about complete untruths. I have been… occupied… with dealing with the complete bullshit political sensibilities of this stone-age wonderful country.

Today’s short missive has been on the back-burner so long it is now as black and charcoaled as the average house in Jining, Shandong (nice power station there). This is approximately as black and charcoaled as what a pork BBQ stick should be in order for the N1H1 to be completely eradicated.

This article began life as a semi-gelling idea as the summer heat reduced the amount of protective clothing I can possibly bear to wear to the point that there is little left between me and potential tarmac sliding in terms of the area of the potential scrapage and the number of truly foreign objects that will end up embedded in my epidermal layers.

Oh – I ride a motor scooter… should I mention that now? If you’re an adrenaline junkie with suicidal tendencies like myself, it’s fun. Here you can have more dangerous near misses in any given 10 minutes at a mere 40Kph than you could possibly achieve at 300Kph back in my home country.

Anyway, one evening I was being tightly clutched between the sweaty thighs of a friend, MyArse (hmmm, let’s just say I am not good at yoga). We were on our way back from the pub perched astride the latest in biodegradable bike technology that was indeed losing Quality Parts and Manufracturing, in accordance with the laws of chemistry, physics and Chinese Quality Assessment certificates.

MyArse had been elaborating at some length, punctuated by the to-be-expected expletive-filled epithets as actual examples of the reality of driving in the city kicked in, the exact characteristics of Chinese driving that scared him the most. His immortal introduction to his verbal tirade, “It’s simple mate, they ARE all trying to kill me!“, is a most fitting title for this article.

Learning to drive in this country is like learning to breathe water. The local Chinese just aren’t built to queue orderly or understand the concept ‘wait’ – and our lungs aren’t built to breathe water. So it’s not that it fails – the resultant traffic chowder is so thick that unsafe speeds are difficult to achieve. It just gets… rearranged… to have more Chinese Characteristics.

My most hated aspect is one that is always present even in the dead of night with no traffic around; the condition of the roads. You never know when an 8” deep pothole, ditch, crack, pole, cable will suddenly loom in front of you. Lighting is optional in the streets, further complicating the matter. However, during the day you have the ever-present sand/dust/fallout storms to flail your eyeballs in a National Triumph for Progress display of fevered nationalistic pride. I should open a cornea buffing service… 30 minutes of rocketing around the city with your eyes propped open by matchsticks, for a bargain basement price of a mere 3,000 RMB.

The next is also omnipresent – the end result of the “Where should I park this?” game played on every flattish surface near you. Drivers exercise the right to park as close to the door as possible. This leads to the concept of multi-use roads, with donkeys, people, bikes, motorbikes, dogs, cats, taxis, buses, trucks, tractors, trikes and pushcarts all intent on occupying the same place at the same time as the footpath is either covered with parked vehicles or with vendors – the latter being far worse because they have a crowd aimlessly milling around them constantly like flies to shit. VERY much like…

However, there is also the Chinese Blind Spot. This is approximately the same area as their visual span. Utilizing the well-known tactic of “If I don’t look at it and I blow the horn enough I can drive where-ever I like” and only braking when ABSOLUTELY necessary, our Cultured Friends gleefully throw themselves into the game of “I don’t care what the lights say, I entered this intersection before you NOW TRY AND REMOVE ME, SUCKER!” Gridlock is not only inevitable, but they are forced to station multiple Traffic Police in the daily failed intersections to attempt to reduce the blockages. The Police get marginally more attention than the lights or signs, but even that marginal amount is usually enough to prevent terminal clotting – at that junction. The problem now just proceeds to the next available push-and-shove zone – err, intersection.

The side-effect of this phenomena is that acceleration is the key to getting anywhere quickly. When the lights change, the first person into the intersection gets to set the traffic pattern, usually of most interest to those wishing to get a quick left turn in before the oncoming traffic holds them up for a minute or so. However, should you get both sides using the “accelerate with your eyes closed” technique, you are headed for trouble – well, a collision anyway. However, as all drivers wish to conserve their engines, they change up through the gears as quickly as possible, thereby completely cutting down on their potential acceleration and making such accidents collisions a minor detail. The most worrying part is the drivers leaving their cars in situ so they can argue with the police about who should pay whom. This of course blocks the whole intersection in all directions, and turns that section of the city into a horn-sounding competition as everyone attempts to elbow past the mess.

[Note from Editor: recent research has discovered that, like bats and dolphins, Chinese navigate using sonar. This is why they must constantly emit noise of some description, be it car horn, bicycle bell, whistle, or yip-yap shouts. It also explains why they never use their eyes.]

What is more worrying about this closed-eye phenomena is the guaranteed surprise arrival of vehicles from concealed driveways and impromptu parking zones. So the only means of survival is to maintain a constant full 360 surveillance and finely tune your psychic powers. If the latter is not available, prayer MIGHT help. And God help you should pass an educational facility at any time approaching a drop-off/pick-up time. Call in the  tanks – nothing else will come close to unclogging that mess as parents elbow their way to the closest position to the gate, and then exit their vehicle to repeat the process in the flesh. It is only exceeded by that one time in the Big Red Square when the KFC van overturned, students raced in to grab what they could, and then decided to wait to see if it would happen again.

Despite all of this, there is still another aspect that utterly amazes me. I thought that I was sufficiently numbed to the wonders and delights of this ancient culture, but today even I am scarcely able to contain my outrage ecstasy when a taxi driver executes the “Fuck Me” manoeuvre. This is quite easy to learn, and has a few minor variants. The garden variety involves speeding past a bike rider, then suddenly swerving directly in front of them and slamming on the brakes in order to allow the bike to forcibly enter the vehicle from the rear – thus the name “Fuck Me”. Of course, the bike rider should also scream “Fuck Me!” to indicate they understand the successful negotiation of the trick. The minor variant is used for turning into a road or driveway just ahead of the bike, with the slight change being the bike enters the vehicle from the side, giving the rider a huge T-boner.

Of course, I would be derelict in my duties if I forgot to mention the joy of inhaling the exhausted delights of our friendly neighbourhood buses. Not that this is an issue after 9pm, this city figures if you can afford to be out after that time you can damn well afford to line the pockets of your local mercenary drunkard taxi driver. Go to Singapore sometime, there the government refuses to allow dirty diesel to be sold, the oil companies have to spend a few more cents cleaning it up. Bus exhausts there are like a sweet breath of perfume by comparison.

Night-time presents its own special danger, the deadliest of all: the brake-less truck. It is not like the truck doesn’t HAVE brakes, it is merely that if the driver was to employ them it would cost him 2 jiao in brake lining wear and diesel to get up to unsafe terminal velocities again. Let alone, he can probably squeeze one more return trip in each night if he sails through every red light. You can tell the new drivers, when they approach an intersection they at least blow their horn a few times. The more experienced ones have learned that this costs them an extra jiao each night in wasted fuel, and avoid doing this in order to suck every fen they can into their baijiu and xiaojie fund.

The rest of the issues are quite minor: indicators are only used by wedding parties in warning light mode, horns are a sonic broom and side-swipes are a simple elbowing past someone. Parking is a very approximate thing, we all know it is far easier and quicker to just stop in the middle of the road and leave your car there, rather than actually attempt to position yourself as close to the curb as possible. Actually, the few people who do attempt the reverse park are a source of much amusement as they gently rock their vehicle back and forth over the same track, because they haven’t actually figured out how this manoeuvre works.

So, MyArse and I had by now negotiated our way past lorries parked across the footpath and extending out into the road, treacherously deep man-hole covers, numerous attempted sideswipes and the odd pushcart or 1,000. We had mounted and dismounted sidewalks, bike parking lanes, freeways, byways and sellways. We had dutifully ignored all traffic signs and other users of our shared thoroughfares other than the mandatory cursing. We had shed several square meters of decomposing fairing along the way and filled the streets with expired cigarette butts. In short, we’d survived another adrenaline pumping plummet through Hell and were physically none the worse for wear, excepting the eyeballs and respiratory tract. We felt half-Chinese.

But we shook that nasty feeling off quickly.

– DaBizzare

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11 Responses to “They ARE all trying to kill me!”

  1. justrecently said

    Dear DaBizzare: if they really want to kill you, they’ll never manage. Anything planned in China usually goes wrong. Thought you might take heart from this.

  2. Ned Kelly said

    DaBizarre,

    Your writing is overwrought. You try too hard to write in “clever” overwrought ways. But nonetheless, I agree with you around 80 percent. And the other 20 percent that I disagree with you on, is your overwrought attempt at “colourful” writing.

    Come on. For example, when you wrote:

    “We were on our way back from the pub perched astride the latest in biodegradable bike technology that was indeed losing Quality Parts and Manufracturing, in accordance with the laws of chemistry, physics and Chinese Quality Assessment certificates…”

    …you could AND SHOULD have simply written:

    “We went to a bar and rode back on a cheap bike.”

  3. Matt said

    Ned, you are wrong. I laughed out loud and the passage you quoted, and many others. This was a great post, very close to mylaowai standards.

    Excellent work, DaBizzare.

  4. DaBizzare said

    Thanks JustRecently, that thought is indeed comforting hehehehe. And Ned, said bike wasn’t cheap. But I shall indeed take heed of your words and next time ensure that there is more than just one passage to offend your sensibilities :-p.

  5. C.A. Yeung said

    Sorry DaBizzare, my comment here is totally unrelated to your post. But you may want to check out the latest from The Onion. This is a “new look” after The Onion has been acquired by Fish Time.

  6. MyLaowai said

    I have today received a number of emails directing me to the Onion, and to Yuwanmei.com

    I am very impressed.

  7. C.A. Yeung said

    Oh my goodness, I just noticed the yuwanmei.com website is actually bilingual. Now that’s impressive.

  8. Neddy said

    I was less impressed, at least by the “China Strong” piece:
    “…propelled by the strength of two billion loyal hands…”.
    No way. I imagine they started with 2.6 billion hands, and adjusted the numbers for the old codgers, and small babes who do not reach a factory production belt yet, etc., but failed to account for all those angry youth, nationalists, alleged patriots, government officials and other wankers who all have only one hand to “propel” anything… since they need the other one for, er, something else.

  9. I’m very impressed. However, the bilingual nature of this edition suggests that there are some traitors to the cause of the sacred motherfuck at work. That again is disgusting.

  10. MyFenwai said

    since they need the other one for, er, something else.

    your mother does have a very big cunt.

  11. Jining (Shandong) said

    […] Wuhan Hongshan Praça Flower Show”, “Shanxi Gunal o show de crisântemo em primeiro lugar …They ARE all trying to kill me! « Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa ShuiToday's short missive has been on the back-burner so long it is now as black and charcoaled as the […]

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