Thursday, March 28, 2013

Green, is the New Yellow!

In January, China came down with some sweeping reforms of traffic rules to try to create more order.  Driving here is a bit crazy to put it lightly.  One of the most interesting changes, is that if you run a yellow light, you get the same penalty as if you ran a red light.  So, yellow light = red light.

I read an article on China Daily, Seeing Red Over Yellow Light Rule, which was the first I'd heard of the change. So as the rule stands, if you are past the stop mark when a light turns yellow you may go through, but if you are right behind the stop mark, you must stop, otherwise you lose 6 points (allowed 12 points in 12 months) and get a ticket.  In Beijing, there are cameras EVERYWHERE, so it isn't like, "oh well if there is a cop there I'll get in trouble," it is pretty much guaranteed.

Well organized traffic jam in Beijing, photo by -AX- via Flickr

As you can imagine this has a lot of people upset, it is nearly impossible to stop at a yellow light immediately when you see it. The whole point is that you can't stop safely.  Lots of people are trying to stop and getting rear ended because the norm here would be 5 people behind you would try to run the yellow/red lights.

So, what I've noticed in the past few days is that they are making the green light start to flash right before it is about to turn yellow, giving people notice.  Doesn't this seem to defeat the purpose?

Ironically, the Chinese all seem to know where the cameras are located so they still run the lights that don't have cameras, speed on the streets, or areas that don't have cameras, and then follow the rules when they get to a camera.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Driving in China

One of the hardest parts of being in Beijing, and out in a more suburban part of Beijing is my inability to drive. If the weather was nicer, I might be able to ride a bike a few miles to the grocery store, but between the air quality issues and also the danger of riding a bicycle, with China drivers, that isn't a good solution.  I have to rely on sharing a driver with my husband (with a 30-60 minute commute, both ways), who doesn't speak English, who often smells so bad it makes me want to puke, and the issues that come with limited time, limited ability to communicate and not wanting to have a 15 minutes conversation about a 5 minute drive to get a liter of milk, or the cinnamon I forgot for my recipe.

Driving in China is a bit insane.  According to Beijing municipal statistics bureau data there are 5.2 million cars in Beijing and I'm here to say that are not enough roads!!  Traffic is a constant nightmare in the city.

To be able to drive though even if you have the license and car there are quite a few obstacles you have to overcome to drive in Beijing.

License Plate

Gone are the days where if you own a car you can get a license plate. Here in Beijing, one in seventy-seven people are able to get a license plate, which is done through a lottery.  Just because you own a car, or want to buy a car doesn't mean you will be lucky enough to score a plate.   In January, 1.4 million people competed for 18,653 plates, according to the municipal transport commission provided by China Daily.

Dangerous Driving

Drivers in Beijing aren't the most cautious drivers to put it mildly.  They drive between the lines, too fast, too slow, in the emergency lane, they cut you off, and they run red lights just to name a few. Reading the driver's test questions makes me laugh because I'm pretty sure China drivers don't obey even 15% of the rules on the test.  Imagine 6 lanes of cars in 3 traffic lanes, and that is Beijing.

China Test, English Translations

I'm not sure who in China actually translates the Chinese questions into English but let's just say a few leave a lot of be desired.  Right now I'm studying with an app.  Here are a couple questions and a few screen shots of questions, comment below with your guesses on the answers and I'll post the answers later!

1. When driving, a driver may spit to the road or street out of the window? Right or Wrong

2. Driving and smoking has no harm on safe driving? Right or Wrong

3. It is not safe or a woman driver to wear high heels to drive a vehicle? Right or Wrong (men may have a different answer!)

4. An article that cannot be used to stop bleeding by dressing is ______.
 a. Bondage
 b. Sling
 c. Cushioned limb folding
 d. Pressure bondage 

5.                                                                  6.                                                 


Can't wait to see everyone's answers, I promise to post the answers once people have commented.  Make sure not to think too hard about them!

What is This?

Round 2 of "What is This?" and a big thanks to Hannah for figuring out the fruit in What is This? Round 1.

So I cheated and posted these pictures on Facebook to solicit answers.  I also showed them to a couple local expats who told me that the first picture looks like "leftovers" from fish cleaning, so hopefully no one is eating that yuck.  The second picture, the white stuff, is tripe according to a couple people, so I'm going with tripe.  If you aren't lucky enough to know what tripe is, I am thanks to my dog's luck at eating tripe, here is a link to what is TRIPE.  Don't eat and read please!

I found these items at the open seafood market at the Houshayu market in Shunyi District.  They have all kinds of live and dead seafood bought by kilo on site.  They also have a fruit and vegetable market, and a meat market with every part of an animal you could imagine. Chickens, come with all body parts. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Beijing in Pictures

I'm going to start a weekly blog post with pictures from the week. I try to take lots of pictures and I see some pretty crazy things. Enjoy!

China's push at changing food behavior, and food waste with this ad in China Daily, the English newspaper in China.

Trash Day? I've never seen a garbage truck here.

 Cool view from a bridge over one of the main roads close to downtown Beijing.

A neighbor's front yard, putt putt anyone?

Saw this treat for sale at the quick mart, doesn't that look like a beak?

My Beijing neighbors are really smart sheep that travel by 4 lane highway and follow traffic lights. 

What's your favorite picture or most unbelievable from this week? I'd love to hear your comment below.