Accident in Hangzhou

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jul 24, 2007

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I had my first traffic accident today, and I wasn't even driving or walking!
It was a beautiful day in Hangzhou, and I could see the sun and the clear blue sky.  A taxi pulled in the front entrance of the hotel, and Ben and I hopped in.  The driver didn't seem as reckless as the taxi driver we had yesterday, although he was driving just a little faster than I'd like to see.  I was on the way to the International College of Zhejiang University to meet the coordinator for short-term Chinese study, and I anticipated a 10-minute trip to the university.
The driver took a left turn onto Feng Qi Road on the north shore of the West Lake.  I sat behind the driver's seat and couldn't see what was in front of him.  Then it happened.
It happened all in one second: I heard a thud, and the next thing I knew my head bounced off the plexiglass behind the driver.
I must have looked like a crash dummy to Ben because I could hear him shouting at the driver and felt his tight grip immediately as if he needed to hold me down before I flew out of the car.
The left side of my face was sore, but I was able to process what just happened.  I took a look at the front of the car and saw that our taxi rear-ended another taxi.  But when I got out of the car, I realized it was actually a three-car collision, and all three cars were taxis. 

Our driver knew he was in the wrong, and he stayed with the other two drivers and us for the traffic police.  I was expecting arguing and shouting between the three drivers and the passengers in the other taxis, but, surprisingly, the passengers left immediately and the three drivers chatted during the wait.  The traffic police came and filed a report.  Another traffic incident police came after we expressed possible whiplash and concoction.  After more than one hour, our taxi driver, whose car was damaged, escorted us in another taxi to the Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital on the other side of the town.
I never wanted any visit to a Chinese hospital, but an exam was necessary just to be sure.    I went to the emergency room, and a nurse measured my blood pressure and took my history.  It took less than 30 seconds and ended with a personal question in front of 10 other people at the front counter.  A young doctor recommended a CT scan just to be on the safe side.  That was the first CT scan of my life, and I had never imagined I would take it in China!  The service at the Radiology Department was, shall we say, non-existent.  All of the staff at the front counter were out for lunch at 1:20.  I asked a woman how long she had waited for the counter to open.  "For hours," she said.  Ben and I knew we needed to do something to get service, and Ben was able to get a doctor's attention.  I reluctantly cut the line to get my scan done. 
Throughout the entire hospital visit, the taxi driver took care of the registration and cost for us.  He was a well mannered, middle-aged father of a high school girl, and we chatted with him a bit while waiting for the result from the scan.  To strangers, we might look like friendly acquaintances, but we all understood that he was there for the insurance paperwork instead of caring about my health.  Strangely, although his bad driving was what got me in the hospital, I felt bad having him going through all the trouble. 
The visit to Zhejiang University took a detour today, and it gave me an insight into law enforcement and medical service in modern China.  In a way I was fortunate that the accident happened in a well-developed city where the laws are enforced and people are reasonable.  It could have been worse: the driver could have fled the scene or made it my fault!
The doctor determined that I was fine.  I might wake up with a sore neck tomorrow morning, and I hope that is it!
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robert_obrien on

Oh my Carolyn. I'm glad you are all right. This has to be frightening.

gdetiveaux on

oh, my goodness!
Carolyn, I hope you guys are OK. You're in our thoughts, & we miss you!

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