Friday, June 15, 2007
To Yield or Not To Yield...I Can't Believe That's the Question?
I cannot believe it's come to this.

As most of you know, I bike my commute on major roads of Beijing and I must admit, I have come to a cultural crossroads. Here is my predicament:

When you take to the road in Beijing you have two choices. Follow the "rules" or don't. And I put "rules" in quotes because, like black holes and the ghost of Elvis, I'm not even sure if they really exist. There is a traffic test to get your driver's license and I know they ask about traffic laws, so there is some semblance of a system, but I'VE never seen it.

Anyway, I've always claimed the mentality that if I act in a proper manner and teach rather then scorn, I will be assisting in the effort to even out the culture gap and form a modern, globalized Chinese society. But then, I get on my bike and I want to throw it all out the window.

No, wait. I take that back. I want to smash it with a sledgehammer, violently stuff it down a garbage chute with a broomstick, and shower it in last night's smelly tofu and curdled cabbage. A little graphic, I know. But necessary. Next time I'll be sure to include a warning for children under 12.

Seriously though, it's a horrible decision-making process to try to navigate. I want to follow the rules and be a good, traffic-law-abiding non-citizen. But then someone cuts me off and proceeds to halve their speed until I come to a near stand-still. Or a car driver that decides that waiting is for everyone else but him cuts off the entire bicycle lane trying to pull around traffic that ISN'T MOVING. Or a car nearly hits you when you have the "green light" (okay - the "green light" definitely DOES exist, but it might just as well not because green or red, it makes no bloody difference anyway). From there, it starts off with a little cursing (which no one here understands anyway). Then it segues into a pointed glare and fierce, squinty eyes. Finally, like the gradual transformation into The Hulk, the anger turns into full-force, Chinese style, horn honking, bell-ringing road rage.

By then, I'm long past "stooping to their level." So, do I continue to fight the urge or throw any and all knowledge of proper traffic etiquette out with the tofu and cabbage? I haven't really decided yet. Perhaps my brain will create some sort of weird hybrid. I'll let people pass me, but I'll curse and ring my bell at them while they do. Ack! What has life in Beijing done to me?!
posted by Rachel @ 11:51 AM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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