Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Things you may see on a drive in northern Sichuan

Note: the entire drive we kept saying "where is our camera", but never managed to pull it out. The car was kind of packed.

Note 2: This is Amanda writing. Some people have complained that they can't tell which of us is writing. Since Josh writes more, I'll sign mine.

1. Convoy of army learner truck drivers. I am not kidding. There were 20+ in a caravan going the other way. And each truck had a 教练车sign on the front (learner driver). The drivers were SO young looking and the trucks SO big. I hope they learn better habits than other drivers.

2. A car passing in a 2-way tunnel. Actually, I should say "overtaking" since "passing" on the driving exam means driving along a section of road. In this case, we entered a tunnel about 20 minutes after lunch and after I started driving. I was about half way through the tunnel when there was a car heading straight towards me. Some dummy decided that a tunnel was a good place to pass.

3. Cars passing on blind corners. Once again, how stupid can you get? Are you asking for a head on collision? No wonder it is the law to honk before said corners.

4. Cars at dusk with no lights. I think they want to save gas. They seem to think we're weird for putting our lights on.

5. Snow. Yes. It was snowing. The way we came there is a steep pass which you need to drive over, about 3300 m tall. We came to it just before dusk and at about 2500 m and above there was snow on the ground. Our little car did very well.

6. Cars without license plates. They are everywhere. But cars w/o plates are supposed to be detained by the traffic police. I think we learned too much taking the test and now ask too many questions that people don't want to answer.

7. Semis piled on top of one another. This one was particularly scary. On the highway from Chengdu to Mianyang (stage 1 of the journey), there were semis (just the cab bit) with no wheels on them (wheels near the cab) piled on top of other semis (also just cabs). They looked way too back heavy and like the wheels in the front might come off the ground. Josh said that. Then all of a sudden we were passing one (we passed 3 or 4) and the wheels were leaving the ground as it hit bumps. Although we really wanted to find the camera, we also really wanted to escape the monstrosities.

8. Buses overtaking you at the most inopertune times. They also are overtaking everyone else. We decided that the trucks (the evil blue things that abound in western China) and buses were the safest things to hide behind when passing other cars. Normally a bad idea, but here the big mass tells others to stay away.

9. Way over filled trucks. Not surprisingly, the darn blue trucks (actually, many were orange. That is a new color to Chinese truck world) were way too full.

10. Toll booths. It costs 1 bus ticket in tolls to do the drive. 1/2 of them are the highway toll for the 2 hrs to Mian Yang. The rest are in small chunks along the way. You can save 2 RMB if you don't accidentally take the wrong exit for the Mian Yang highway and then try to correct the mistake by taking the next exit which happens to be a bus station. Then you will end up looking like an arriving bus and have to drive around in circles until you can leave the bus station via the carpark and pay the carpark fee. There is another 30 min of driving in circles before you can manage to get on the highway going the right way.

11. Beautiful scenery

Ok... I'm running out of things. It is a pretty drive though. We'll hopefully cut it down a bit on the next trip. We'll definitely leave earlier to avoid driving at night and to avoid some of the bus traffic.

In case you want to send us mail, here is our mailing address. If you'd rather just print a label, I can send you a .pdf or .jpg for either of us. Just let me know.

People's Republic of China

I don't think that the English version works. At least, a friend tried to send me a letter and I haven't gotten it yet...

Look forward to: our new home and scrubbing it clean; adventures in internet bureaucracy; successes and failures at cooking.

1 comment:

  1. Here Amanada, I'll say it for you regarding # 2, 3 4, 7, 8, 9; Assoholes, and Darwinian. You're way too nice. Guess that's why I'm always the bad guy! Glad you're both safe in the driving experiment so far! And to think at least this time, YOU have control over the car this time unlike the last time we did the overland guerrilla data amassing trip! hugs & kisses! love you! P