|The super-busy intersection outside my apartment!|
All these various vehicles and people do an astonishing sort of dance around one another on the streets and even sidewalks. A bus will barrel down a street, taking the place on the road where taxis, bikers, and pedestrians seem to have been just milliseconds before. And then, a few seconds later, the bus will make a seemingly impossible dodge around three taxis and 5 two-wheeled vehicles approaching and weaving through the intersection from all different directions. I'd be impressed at the deft way in which the bus drivers handle their large vehicles and the almost total nonexistence of accidents if I weren't on the bus and being thrown back and forth by its jerky motion.
|The intersection near my office (also busy, of course).|
(Incidentally, as I'm getting used to the metric system here, I'm quite grateful that at least the numeric and time measurement systems are universalized. Can you imagine if time is measured differently depending on which country you go to?)
The other thing about honking is that it can occur at any time of night or day. There is a bit of a lull between 2-5am (thank God), but all bets are off as soon as the sun rises at 5am, which in Shanghai means that the sky gets lighter but you don't typically actually see the sun, due to the perpetual smog. Whenever I'm awakened at 5:30 in the morning by the sound of people blaring their horns outside, I think about how in New York you get fined for honking, and whether or not it'd be possible to institute something similar here.
From what I can see, there is no such thing as "right of way" or "yield" in Shanghai. If you try to yield at every opportunity in which the Western world would consider it appropriate to yield, it'll take you three times as long to get to your destination. So no one yields, and the journey is a little more chaotic and life-threatening than it has to be, and everyone gets to their destinations in the relatively same amount of time.
|The JC Mandarin, a high-end hotel, on Nanjing West Road, the street near my office.|
|Shanghai Centre on Nanjing West Road. Super high-end and classy hotel/shops. Some Hong Kong actor apparently arrived there when I was getting my lunch there the other day.|