Driving in China
Into this mix, we next introduce pedestrians. We drove back through Guangzhou yesterday along an eight-lane expressway with pedestrians standing between the lanes. Expert pedestrians carry themselves with icy sang-froid, seemingly unaware of cars, trucks, and buses careening by inches away from them. Like frogger players of yore, they plan paths through complex evolving traffic flows, and drivers gently modify trajectories to leave appropriate body-sized spaces between vehicles at appropriate times. It's like watching ballet.
On the other hand, many aspects of driving are much less crazy than back home. Most notably: no anger. We saw our van driver enter a three-minute duel with a truck full of livestock about merging rights, each valiantly fending off attacks then pressing forward like Robin Hood on a log bridge, honking and jerking into tiny spaces. But nobody showed any anger, and when one party won, both just went about their business without any emotional display at all. No road rage. Also, while merging is vigorous, acceleration is always gentle, as if there's no reason culturally to jackrabbit start from each stoplight. All told, I can understand why a person from either culture would quickly get a bad rep in the other culture.