2nd of August 2017
When I moved to China I had a car. Bought it on my second trip and it just waited for me.
I decided it would be a good idea to spend some time exploring Fuzhou and getting the feeling. The feeling, of how it would be to drive there, was something. I came from Iceland where the drivers are mostly able to follow the rules and they can drive in a line. While observing the Chinese traffic, on foot and in taxis, I had the feeling they did not usually drive in a line. It looked to me that they drove like a sick sack machine. If there was a space they went there, no matter if it meant to break the line. Of course there were more bicycles than cars most of the time.
The behaviour of those cycling made sense to me. They waited for the light and then we all crossed the road. The cars also respected the traffic lights and waited.
This was more or less all the respect in the Chinese traffic, or at least so I thought.
Would I ever be able to adjust? Some foreign companies don´t allow their employees to drive themselves. Its too dangerous! Of course they are foreigners, you know! I was going to live in the land and would be one of the locals soon.
One day my interior designer called me and told me he was leaving Fuzhou and would not be able to see me for at least a month. Now I needed to drive to my house, he said. I had been living in a hotel because the house was not ready when I came in January. Now the Chinese New Year was around the corner and everyone would go to their hometowns.
Mr Chen came, and we drove to the house. I drove, and he was convinced that I actually COULD drive! He showed me the easiest way, and gave me a map. In Chinese of course. Next day he would leave and I would be on my own. I had to go to the house every day to make sure the workers were doing what they should do.
Obedient as I am, I left the hotel in my car and headed to Min Hou. 3 hours later Mr Chen called me. Where are you? he asked. I am on my way but I got lost, I replied. I went back to the hotel, got some advise and headed again to Min Hou. Finally, late in the afternoon, I arrived. Mr Chen was not too happy with me. He had waited. I told him I needed to go back immediately because it was getting dark and I knew I would never find my way in the night!
Mr Chen went to his hometown with the family to celebrate the new year. I headed to the hotel and that would be a piece of cake. I now knew the way back. Well not quite. I got lost. It got dark. I had absolutely no idea how to find the bloody turn I was supposed to take. I called the hotel and asked them to pick me up. Where are you? they asked. I don´t know, I replied. Can you find someone Chinese to talk to us? they asked. I looked around. Yes, there was a gate there and a security guard. I gave him the phone and he told my hotel staff where the woman was. The guard smiled at me and told me to wait for the people, outside the gate, not inside. They came. I was so close, so close and the turn was so easy. Of course I had someone sitting next to me in the car who knew.
The next day my new friend, the hotel manager, took me for a drive and taught me how to get home. She said that it might be a good idea for me to practise again, immediately, so I would not forget. I practised! I practised many times and eventually returned to the hotel. Are you ok now? my friend asked. Yes, I am, I replied and gave her a big hug. Everyone in the reception looked at me with huge smiles. They were happy. They would not have to pick me up again! The next time I made it to Min Hou, barely, but after 3 or 4 trips I was like a local.
I learned that Jing San bridge was not a bridge! And I learned to ask, before I came to the bridge, if I should take the left or the right. Most of the time the same people stood at my place, the one I stopped at, and after few days I got a salute from them. No more asking just heading to the right.
I do have a problem and have always had it. I get lost! Even in Iceland, where everything is small and not complicated, I managed to loose my way. Just imagine how easy it was in a huge country like China.
After a while I managed to drive around the country. The motorways in China are excellent. They are of course quite often under repair but what about it, you just take another turn, without loosing your mind. When I went to Xiamen and took some of my students with me, they were amazed at how good I was ! No GPS there, just common sense.