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Swimming the Streets of the New China

Posted on January 18, 2017

Posted By Sherry Barson, Luxury Travel Advisor

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to swim upstream with a school of fish? Just replace those fish in your mind with cars, buses, bikes, mopeds, taxis, and pushcarts all humming along in perfect balance (or chaos depending on your point of view) and this is what you can experience in many places in China.

While it’s not the thing you’d expect to notice most on your first visit to China the endless sea of traffic will definitely catch your attention.

Adrenaline junkies take note: You can get your “fix” simply by crossing the street – no extra equipment required!

As challenging as it was to step out into the streets the first few times, we developed a sense of confidence – even accomplishment – from having successfully navigated the schools of traffic in Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu.

When not navigating traffic “flow” on a 6 lane highway complete with cars, trucks, buses – plus a few bicycles and pedestrians for good measure – we cruised right along (the absence of traffic portion of our 12-day trip took up all of about 3 hours).

The bonus to these 2 mile-per-hour expeditions was that there was ample time to marvel at the contemporary architecture of the high rises above us and at the beauty of the landscaping and tea fields alongside of us. All of which constantly reminded us of the massive changes the Chinese are experiencing.

And while we applauded the skill of our drivers while they negotiated the seemingly chaotic roads we could determine that despite all odds there were relatively few accidents, no evidence of damaged vehicles from too-close encounters, no rusted-out relics from a not too distant past. Rather, it would appear, those with wealth purchase new cars only. There was even the surprise of Ferrari and Lamborghini dealerships in a few of the city centers we passed through.

Those with more modest means may travel by electric scooters. Experience taught us that these scooters could be a top hazard to a pedestrian’s well-being due to their stealth nature. We quickly learned to dart around them.

While sitting in congestion, we had time to discuss what would happen should someone be unfortunate enough to hit someone with their vehicle. If the person lives, one may find himself paying them and their relatives for the rest of his life for pain, suffering and loss of wages both real and imagined.

Not unsurprisingly, we came home vowing to never again complain about our traffic in the Bay Area.

Instead, when we encounter it, we will keep our eyes open and go with the flow.

Images and post provided by Sherry Barson, Luxury Travel Advisor. Find out more about Sherry and our other travel consultants →

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