Usual suspects of the Hangzhovian bus stop and some useful survival skills for unsuspected laowai.

October 24, 2010

Waiting for the bus, small rectangular patterns on a poster draw you closer through familiar optic recognition, it is indeed a collection of mug shots on public display. I didn’t have any bilingual friend nearby to explain the description, wondering about the nature of their crime, something more intriguing than pickpocketing. Some funny faces, does it actually serve any purpose, nobody seems to give a damn, just another clutter of information tugged away inside distant neurons. So far i haven’t seen any cruel crimes, on humans at least, cause i experienced a brutal murdering of mice while cycling to work (a group of people were sadistically burning their mousetraps full of live mouses inside) animal rights are nonexistent in China… At least it gives me comfort to see some happy stray dogs and cats roaming around without the fear of ending up on a dish, maybe it still happens further to the west.

Road accidents seem to settle in a different way, if you hit someone you can pay compensation on the spot, cash, while police seals the deal. You don’t see street brawls like in London. At night parts of the city are empty, deserted, big streets give a feel of total abolishment. Riding your bike at 4 A.M. 15km through the city, alone, doesn’t feel abnormal or frightening. I feel that criminals would be more amused by the sight and we could end up having a laugh out of my terrible Chinese pronunciation over a bottle of Qing-tao beer, (my Chinese are pretty good if the need to order beer for local mobster arises). Groups of unofficial taxi drivers can become a nuisance, but are easily avoided, taxi drivers are universal nerve breakers. Haggling skills have developed over numerous times were one of them tries to charge 5 times the regular price. Fear for my life i have experienced only on zebra crossings, green both for pedestrians and cars means that they won’t stop for you, eyes peeled on both sides, also tricycles, bicycles and electric scooters pass whenever/wherever they want, curse in whatever language you possess. Electric scooters need a whole chapter and as this post seems to be transforming into a: “survival guide for the unaccustomed laowai”, maybe i need to write a line.

Electric scooter in China means: i chuck a battery on a contraption with 2 or 3 wheels and i baptise this abomination a vehicle. Sold cheap when mass produced, easy to be made in your kitchen with a blowtorch, no need for a driving license (if i judge by some of the drivers) and you ‘r good to go, topped with the fact that they don’t make a sound (a drawback of electric vehicles) and drive with no lights at night, to preserve precious battery and you have the perfect road ninjas (also in summer they dress to the part). Is more likely to get run over by a ninja grandma in China than any other terror that keeps you from travelling, i bet you never thought of them as a drawback… be warned. Of course the other most common danger is the dreaded: Montezuma’s Revenge, or Delhi Belly or Tokyo Trots, depending on your geographical coordinates. Colourful names for a disease that can make your life miserable, the infamous traveller’s diarrhea. It hits without a warning, and can keep you grounded begging for redemption to the toilet gods.

Not a funny subject, although i have to confess it provided some amusing conversations with Ben, whose English student stomach (to my surprise if i count all the shitty food he ate back at the uni) couldn’t handle China. He seems to have stabilized after 4 months and countless packs of Imodium. Bicycle thieves have a notorious reputation and the usual life expectancy of normal priced bicycle is 6 months. Electric scooter batteries are the second most stolen thing here. To avoid bike theft, you either: a) don’t leave it from sight, the no-lock concept (take it with you everywhere) or b) lock it with all the metal you got. To close the circle and go back to our mugshot superstars, crowded buses provide ample ground for itchy finger pickpocketeers. Recently a wallet was snatched from a friends bag, without a trace, full of cards and things that will make your life a bureaucratic hell if you loose (much more than loosing cash). A couple of hours later she gets a call from police to collect her stolen wallet, intact, apart from missing cash. In another story i heard, the thief mailed the wallet back to the owner, a little lighter but still with the cards attached. The only constant violence in China is the needless honking that hurts my innocent ears and maybe the nasty smell of smelly tofu in street markets…


4 Responses to “Usual suspects of the Hangzhovian bus stop and some useful survival skills for unsuspected laowai.”

  1. ΓΔΣ said

    Παρακαλώ μετάφραση γιατί το λεξικό μου δεν είναι αρκετό:

  2. ΓΔΣ said

    Εχει πλάκα ποιός σου τιτιβίζει, είδα τον εχτρέμ σαρβάϊβαλ που τσίμπισε.
    Θέλεις κανένα κίτ επιβίωσης από πυρηνική επίθεση;

  3. Katerina said

    Brawl = καυγάς, laowai = ξένος στα κινέζικα

  4. ΓΔΣ said

    Ωραία, ευχαριστώ Κατερίνα. Πλάκα έχει η ενημέρωση μέσω Κίνας.

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