Saturday, January 06, 2007

Scarier than Santa

is how I would describe hurtling down a highway in a crowded bus on a night when the fog is so thick you can barely see the tail lights of the car ahead. Knowing the relaxed attitude that some Chinese have to concepts such as 'lanes' and 'working headlights', with the a pinch of the old 'x' factor (what's that up ahead? an overturned truck? a donkey cart? someone attempting an ill-advised u-turn?) you can see why I was kind of nervous.

Its times like this that I take comfort in the fact that in a country of 1.3 billion people, the odds of this particular bus being involved in a horrific accident are pretty slim.

My confidence wasn't exactly bolstered when I felt the bus go over a curb and a shopfront loomed out of the mist towards the front of the bus. The busdriver, who must drive this route dozens of times a day, had gotten lost. We were about 20 minutes out of our way. Fortunately, he had in his passengers a team of enthusiastic volunteers who were only to keen to help him with such tasks as:

- wild speculation as to where we might be (I think I saw a tree back there!)
- Using a sleeve to smear the condensation around on the inside of the windscreen
- Delivering detailed (though varying) lectures on precisely where the driver had gone wrong
- and of course, most importantly, taking turns at hurling abuse out the window at similarly lost and aimless vehicles.

All while the driver attempted a tricky and basically blind three point turn amongst about five other vehicles attempting the same.

Anyway, I made it home, alive and only an hour late, and had some Korean BBQ which kicked ass. All in all a good day.

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