Sunday, June 27, 2010


HOLY CRAP! It's like the entire city decided to play a game of dodge 'em cars at high speed! You have to play a game of 'Frogger' to get anywhere in this city, no matter what colour the lights are, or if you are at a pedestrian crossing. And horns... lots and lots of horns.

There is no such thing as lane markings here (well technically there is, but everybody ignores them). There are cars, buses, motorbikes, bikes, three wheeled thingies (sometimes motorised, sometimes pedaled), scooters, trucks, three-wheeled trucks (don't ask me how those thing stays upright), three wheeled cars, vans, horse carts... You name it, it's on the road (I use the phrase 'on the road' loosely here) in Harbin. Also... With the state of the roads, it is sometimes more like 4WDing than city driving (no...not an exaggeration).

Everyday I see at least 2 or 3 car accidents, which have always been minor. This however doesn't stop the owners of the vehicles from getting out of their cars, in the middle of the road, screaming at each other for an hour (again... not an exaggeration), while holding up the rest of the traffic, then getting back in their cars and driving away again. This is particularly hilarious when the cars involved have obviously been in so many scrapes before-hand that you can't tell which ones are new and which ones are old.

People frequently drive the wrong way down the road here. Sometimes they are aware they are going the wrong way, sometimes they aren't, but they never care. Sometimes the footpath is a quicker option for them, so they take that instead.

Some of the bigger intersections here have traffic cops in the middle of them to try to keep everything orderly. The problem here is that when the government put the signs and platforms in the middle of the intersection to advertise the fact, they took out half of the centre lane in every direction. This in turn means that everyone has to merge in the centre of the intersection just to get through the intersection... Sorry, but that's just stupid.

One of my most exciting traffic moments here was when I had been here about two days, and the three-lane highway that I was in a cab on, suddenly became a six-lane highway with everyone driving so their side mirrors touched (no, they didn't slow down at all).

I will however credit the drivers here with the fact that they seem to know EXACTLY how big their cars are, can merge in the smallest of spaces, and fit into the tiniest of car parks. This begs the question... Why can't they do this in Australia?

So after all that you are probably thinking 'well, at least you have a seatbelt'? Wrong... On the very rare occassion that the cab you get into has a working seatbelt, you don't want to use it. I made the mistake the second day I got in a cab only to end up covered, and I mean COVERED in dirt. Luckily I was on my way home anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment