A bus ride....
But let me tell you about my bus ride tonight, as I returned from DeQing’s private gung fu school. The buses here are about half the size of our buses in the states, and like some of our buses, they are packed full of people. But the bus drivers over here do not have the luxury of having those little steel bars around them, which essentially put them into protective cages. Here, at least in the boonies, people sit with the bus driver. Count them, four. One guy was almost in his lap. There is a woman who stands in the center of the bus, right next to the only door, who collects cash; one Yuan. I had to squeeze into this thing, both in the horizontal sense and in the vertical. People are not in the habit of moving out of the way to let you get on or off, you essentially have to slither around them. And if the ceiling of the bus were about three inches lower, my shoulders would have touched it. Compound that with the fact that a good deal of these people do not use hot water to bathe (compound it with the fact that I didn’t use hot water to bathe today), and some people smoke these absolutely disgusting cigarettes, which I gather are made of old newspaper, some sort of tobacco, and rat shit, and you have one hell of a ride. Everybody was very amused at how well I moved through the thoroughly packed bus, and how with every slightest bump in the road, I would bang the back of my head. The top of my head was usually aimed towards the front of the bus, where four people shared a seat with the bus driver.
Traveling on the roads out here is definitely an experience. There are no streetlights. Well, there is one in Deng Fen, but it doesn’t work all the time. There are no overhead lights; the only lights on the road are the ones on the cars, and half of them either don’t work or aren’t turned on. I guess they kind of navigate like bats do at night, they honk their horns, and if they don’t hear a honk back, there’s no one ahead of them. Right of way is a term which basically doesn’t exist. Basically, if there is no one in front of you, you can go there. If two of you want to go into the same space, trucks win, bicycles lose, and if it’s a draw, whoever honks the loudest, or gets there first, gets the space. If your driving a one cylinder tractor with a whole bunch of shit on it, you just pretend that you don’t know of anyone else on the road, and you just keep driving. Very slowly. And in the middle of the road. You have to give the Chinese credit for not passing on the right; they only pass on the left. And if you’re on a four-lane road, traffic stays in the middle lanes, keeping the right hand lanes clear. Why? Basically, bicycles and people are there, and the occasional family camping out, and it’s bad form to run people over. Which leads me to the concept of liability. It’s actually pretty simple. Out here in the boonies, if you hit someone, it’s your fault. You pay the other guy money to get his car fixed, or to bury his mother, and you’re on your way. If you can’t pay, and a cop can be found, you can go to prison. Insurance? Not out here. They don’t use it. (I hear that it is government run in Beijing). I guess they all found out about my luck with insurance companies, and decided that it was a waste of time. Actually, an insurance company is forming out here, and motor vehicle insurance is going to be an existing entity. And with insurance companies will come lawyers. Personal injury lawyers. God help them. They know not what they do.
After spending a nice afternoon with white cloud (I can’t remember her name, but she is the English and mathematics teacher at the Wushu Guan who would come up every afternoon on her break and watch me work out, as if that’s entertainment. I just call her white cloud, she calls me Mr. Richard. Very cute. I told her she could call me by my Chinese name, which is She Shin Hung, or just Shin Hung. I asked her what my name meant, and she told me "very big". (HA!!!). She was the source of some of the above information, which I was looking for in order to do a "project" when I got back home. I also used her to order real food for me at the only restaurant that I know of in town that has semi-identifiable food. I had completely given up on the idea of going to this place with my little electronic translator, and type in "pork", "red sauce", "veggies"; the last time I did that at a different restaurant I got a plate of cooked pig’s blood, with a side of semi-cooked slices of pig’s fat. Very appetizing. Not exactly as easy as in Beijing, where you walk into a McDonalds and point at a picture. The biggest problem in McDonalds is trying to get those little packets of ketchup. Reminds me of the time years ago when I walked into a Pizza Hut after three weeks training in Shaolin, ordered a pizza with extra sauce ("More red stuff!"), and they gave me a pizza with ketchup on it. They were very amused. They thought I was pretty weird. Screw them. I ate it.
- Written by doc
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