Chinese Traffic – especially for me as a German – is an unimaginable mess. Germans love their rules so much, they even try to reprimand strangers, if they think they did something wrong. But once you get used to the Chinese way, you will quickly find out there are some rules too. If you abide by these you should be able to keep yourself out of harm’s way. Here I present to you the …
*~Guide to Survive in Chinese Traffic~*
#1 Keep calm
You need to be relaxed! Don’t panic and don’t get angry or frustrated. Put your mind at ease, balance your yin and yang and go with the flow. Actually it might help if you did some Taijiquan practice before you set out.
#2 Only you count
Be selfish! Don’t wait until someone will let you go first, because they won’t. Just set yourself a goal you want to reach and walk straight to it. Only evade or stop when your life might be in danger.
#3 Wheels before legs
As a pedestrian you are of the lowest rank. Even a zebra crossing or a green traffic light won’t mean that you’re safe. People on motorbikes will drive on the pavement and honk you out of the way. Sometimes there is no pavement, so just walk on the road.
#4 Look out 360°
Be prepared that there will be people, bicycles, motorbikes, cars and buses coming from every direction at all times. And also forget about the rule that left turning vehicles have to wait for the ones going straight.
If you drive a vehicle that is able to do so, honk! Honking is very appropriate at all times: to make people move out of the way, to let everyone know you are coming, to greet people, or just for no reason at all.
These are some special rules for using public transport.
#1 Buy a travel card
If you are in a city that provides a public transport card, buy it! It will save you so much time and Chinese people won’t try to squeeze in next to you while you are rummaging through your bag in search of the bus fare. If there is none, make sure to have the right amount of money (usually 2 Yuan) ready.
#2 Don’t wait in line
Never try to wait in line, because there is no line. As soon as the door opens try to get in, even if there are still people coming out. (I must admit Germans in bigger cities are also very bad at this)
#3 The exit
If the vehicle is crowded get ready to exit at least one stop before you want to get off, because no one will really make room for you. When getting off the bus look out for bicycles or motorbikes or they might drive right into you.
#4 Squeeze in
The bus or metro look full to you? You can always give it a try. Just imagine you are very thin, hold your stomach in and maybe it fits.
#5 Have Faith
Always trust the bus driver. The experience can be close to Harry Potter’s ride on the Nightbus. Also, remember the first rule. 😉
In this kind of environment it is natural that you will be pushed and get some elbows here and there but remember not to get aggressive. The people don’t mean to be bad, it’s just what they are used to do. If you grew up in a country with so many people you’d have to be a little selfish and fight for your spot. In the beginning I had to get used to it, but now I’ve found it quite fun to be a little reckless.
Do you think you’re ready for this adventure? Then come to China and jump into the fray. Do an internship and apply now!