Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Well, my aunt and uncle and their family have their tickets ordered and they will be coming to China in July.

I also have my plane tickets set, and I was actually able to find a reasonably priced ticket ($1025) for a flight leaving near the end of June and returning 2 weeks later in July. Anything else at any other time in July or in August varied from $1650 to over $2000.

As they will definitely becoming to China now, I felt obliged to find some examples of traffic here in China so that they are not shocked and stunned on their first ride in a Chinese cab.

So, I scoured youtube and found a few good representations.

These videos are not mine, they are other videos people have taken of traffic in China.

One thing you will notice right away is the seeming messiness and randomness of traffic in China.

When riding in a taxi here, more than once you would probably just want to close your eyes. It takes some getting used to, but after a while you begin to realize that although the drivers here are perhaps a bit crazier than in the states, they are REALLY REALLY good at it. Despite this, even now, I occasionally catch myself hitting the imaginary brake pedal while riding in a taxi, but not nearly as often as at first.

For most of the drivers, the lines separating lanes are literally just suggestions. I remember saying that jokingly after my experience in Beijing in 2004, but the truth is, I'm so used to it now, that it doesn't even seem funny, rather, just the way it is, very mundane.

It's like when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of water or 1/3 cup of milk or 20 grams of sugar, you don't sweat being too precise about it, because close enough is close enough. Now, notice my example there. It's not funny, its just ordinary and mundane. And that's how the Chinese drivers see lines on the road.

This video is a typical small but busy intersection on a busy night. In Shanghai and Beijing, most places aren't like this because most places have bigger intersections and are better organized for pedestrian traffic. But here in Huzhou (this video is from I don't know where) a scene like this on a Friday or Saturday night is typical, with cars trying to poke their way through and motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians just going wherever they damn well can.

I also came across this video of Nanjing Road in Shanghai. This is generally a very busy area in Shanghai. This video is titles "Crazy traffic Nanjing Road in Shanghai" However, perhaps it is just that I have gotten used to it, but this really doesn't seem all that crazy to me:

Here is another example of an ordinary taxi ride, this in Beijing:

And finally this video is a bit longer, about 2 and a half minutes, of an intersection in Harbin. This is a prime example of what happens at a busy intersection in China. While seeming scary and crazy, this is not at all unusual. FYI while this video is a bit longer, it's worth it to watch the whole way through:

Thankfully, even the worst intersection I've come across here in Huzhou isn't as bad as that last video. However, the close calls you saw in that video ARE par for the course. Another note, for those loved ones (Mom) who might worry that I ride a bike in this kind of stuff, A) It's not quite as bad in Huzhou, and 2) I have quickly learned to avoid more congested intersections by taking roads with less traffic per space, even if it means pedaling an extra half a klick. It often is faster despite this.

Oh one more. This video though, this one is crazy even by Chinese standards, especially starting at around 0:20 seconds:


  1. Awesome that some of your family is coming to visit. I hope they have a great time.

    When my family or friends would come with us to China, they would freak out a little too about the traffic. I would tell them just to close their eyes every now and again. After a few days they got used to it. I did the fake break pedal before too, forgot about it till I read your post.

    Whats fun is when you are in a taxi and he is driving ok, and someone in the cab starts telling him to speed up and pass cars and drive like everyone else. Back seat drivers.


  2. there is nooo way I will complain about rush hour traffic least we have laws and signs and signals that we DO obey!!!! wowowowow.
    unbelievable footage!


  3. This video is not even the worst. Thanks for making me homesick.