Trip Start Aug 21, 2009
7Trip End Sep 09, 2009
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Where I stayed
I did manage to spend a day wandering around before getting laid up, and it made an impression on me. It has been a long time since I experienced culture shock, but there is no other phrase to describe what it feels like for a Westerner upon entering China.
Upon exiting the plane the first thing I experienced was the horrible realization that this place is hot; really, really, sticky, nasty, constantly dripping sweat, struggling to breath, it couldn't possibly get any hotter than this hot
A train and taxi journey followed, and with these trips I was introduced to the aggressiveness which pervades much of the Chinese culture. These people are nuts. I thought I was used to aggressive driving, but it would be impossible for people to drive crazier than they do here. Cars and scooters regularly veer onto the sidewalk, and it is up to you to get out of the way. They will absolutely hit you. From what I have observed, it seems that the rules of the road simply give the right of way to the larger vehicle; buses rule the streets and will pull into anyone, cars, pedestrians, it doesn't matter. They regularly blow through reds, as does every other vehicle for that matter. Cars are next in line, deferring only to the buses. Scooters are very common and very aggressive, constantly cutting off the bicycles with whom they share the lane. Bicycles in turn run over pedestrians, who only can yell incessantly at the drivers, which I have observed several times already. I would love to know what they were saying.
You have to see it to believe it. I have seen so many near misses, in just a day, that it boggles my mind. Timi told me she read that 600 people die a day on the streets of Shanghai
The people here are also aggressive when it comes to the metro. This is the only place I have ever traveled where the people entering the train do not let the arriving folk exit first. Nooooo, instead they jockey for position in front of the door and as soon as it opens there is a mad dash inside, those in your way be damned. I literally saw an old woman get pushed down so that a young girl could get a seat, which spurred a round of giggles from her and her friends. The humor was lost on me. The good news is that I am bigger than the average man and I adapt fairly well, so come my second metro ride I was running over old ladies with the best of em.
As I said, I am bigger than the average man, but I am not taller. I was disappointed to learn that my imposing stature of 5'7+3/4" is not considered even remotely tall here. I am average at best. Luckily, thanks to my new found belly and the slender build of virtually every Chinese citizen, I still usually feel like the toughest guy in the room. Whew.
That's all I will bore you with for now
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