It is with great delight that I have been reading about G & J's great adventure to Vietnam . There was some banter about wearing nylon jackets backwards whilst riding your scooter and I thought that I could find one in my collection when we went to China last October. I came up empty-handed but as I was viewing my photos I couldn't help but think to give you some impressions I had of their road system, which may be entirely incorrect, but from an outsider's point of view .
Most of the time we were herded into tour buses and only shown what I am sure, the tour guides were told to show us. China is not an open country where you are free to just wander about. I got this impression as our bus had to go through various checkpoints whilst on the highway.
After our tour of Beijing had ended we had to take a flight to Shanghai so we were on our own to get to the Airport. The easiest way was to take a Beijing Taxi
I notice that all taxis have standard transmissions and the traffic is horrendous in the city. There is gridlock everywhere. There is also no apparent reason or rules to driving and every driver is aggressive, cars cutting in and out trying to get a few inches ahead. And, the HORN IS YOUR FRIEND. There is honking all the time. Honking to get ahead, honking to pull in front, honking for you to get out of the way .
That's our driver on the right, we are at the refuelling station getting petrol. They are along side and integral to the highway system. You pull out into the fueling area and pull back in without actually exiting the freeway.
In this view we are separated from the main road by the fence on the right. There is one pump where you can fill on either side. Not much here only gas and they also sell some bottled water or soda. There doesn't seem to be any company markings on the pumps and I presume that 93 or 97 refer to the octane rating. This may be government run as a convenience to drivers
Pollution is very bad in Beijing as you can see here. It looks foggy and it is usually like this all day long, sort of like an overcast day, but there are no smells in the air. Our Taxi just speeds along taking whichever lane is the fastest changing lanes frequently along the way. I don't know if I have a photo of the signs but at the entrance to every bridge, or tunnel, or freeway entrance there is a picture of a motorcyle/scooter with a red circle and diagonal line through it. This means that motorcycles or any two wheeled vehicle is not allowed on the freeway, bridges or tunnels as a general rule.
Here are some highway signs, all unreadable for those from North America . Foreigners are not allowed to drive in China. The requirements are for all drivers to hold a license issued in China. If you wished to rent a car, they are supplied with a driver with a daily kilometer allowance, around 80-100 RMB per day. Our driver was not very conversant with English but he did seem to understand a few things that we asked. He had been driving for over 20 years and he showed us a photo of his family.
We came upon an accident which appeared had just occurred as the drivers had just gotten out of their vehicles. Our driver told us that this would be cleared up very fast, probably within minutes
The green and yellow colour scheme is another taxi company. I think that the roadways are very good since Beijing was recently the host to the World's Fair a couple of years ago and they upgraded their infrastructure in anticipation of tourists.
More highway signs, notice that different lanes have different speed limits. I would think those are high and minimum speed requirements for each lane . Our driver told us that they rigidly enforce the laws and it is a very large fine if you are caught. He told me how much the fines were, but I forgot, must be old age settling in again. I remember it was a few hundred RMB, remember that the average wage in Beijing is around 2000-2500 RMB (approx Cdn $320-400. per month). A lady driving an SUV was speeding past us on the right, then crossed our paths and changed lanes. He said she would get a big fine if caught
Another thing that was neat was the LED timer which counts down how many seconds your light will remain red
Here is the same light showing how long the light will remain Green
A little farther down we hit another red light
We finally get to the Beijing airport to await our flight to Shanghai
(Kentucky Fried Chicken; 20 RMB/Yuan = C$3.20)