For Payton
and Deona


Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

(October 28, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     We're at the Shanghai Airport and although Gail will totally deny this, her back which has been aching off and on, a little here and a little there, since we arrived in China, is very uncomfortable. She was even talking about using a wheelchair, but being a good stubborn Scot, and thinking that walking will work out the kinks, chose to walk. We eventually made it to the gate.
     Counter culture shock number has hit us: a bottle of water for 20 yuan, about three dollars. A can of diet Coke: 38 yuan, about five and a half dollars. We bought two liters in Nanchang for 75 cents. Wow! There are indeed two different Chinas. We love the one where we were, even the people struggled to live, they were genuine andworked hard.
     Another interesting financial discovery, the exchange at the airport with the Pudong Shanghai Bank was much better than with the Bank of China in Nanchang. Curious!
     Now we're in Vancouver, Canada, and Gail is using the wheel chair and the electric carts. Hopefully the Oregon air will cure everything.

Another note about Chinese driving:
     There could many short paragraphs about the differences between the American and Chinese cultures. We will continue to acknowledge some of them. Such as driving. We thought that we'd become accustomed to some of the tricks of the trade and the differences, and then a new experience moves in. The latest experience was driving of the freeways, the limited access highways. There's not much traffic, probably like I5 at 5:00AM on Sunday or I94 on a wintry day. There are typically two or three lanes going each direction; not atypical for America. Here's the kicker: they still drive all over the road as if there are no lanes. The reason for this behavior defies me as an American. Oh, and there's this constant speeding up and slowing down regardless who is or who is not on the road. The white line I think indicates the middle of the car.
     When driving, or walking, here are some guidelines. You may remember some that we mentioned earlier: walk slowly and don't look, or at least act as if you're not looking. Alas, add to the list, when intersecting with a vehcile, whether you are a person or a vehicle, aim for the back of where you think the vehicle will be when you get to the vehicle. Hopefully the vehicle will maintain a constant pace and direction and you will clearly miss the vehicle, although you may get your pants dirty on the bumper.
      Another guildeline may be "to continue to nose into traffic". Regardless of your size, status or position at the intersection, if the nose of your vehicle is further into traffic then that of the traffic, you win. You get to go next. Of course, that means you may only get to go a car's wide, but you did get into the traffic, and you can continue to "nose" in until you meet your goal. For this reason you don't need to know the Chinese character for stop which is seldomly seen on red octagonal signs.
     There is the driving side by side guideline. Simply put, it's "stick with it, don't give in, honk your horn to let the other driver know you are about to be crushed, and honk often". If you're in the middle lane, go into the lane of the oncoming traffic. They will avoid you; they don't want an accident anymore than you do.
     There is a red circular international street sign with a single horizon bar in the middle. Traditionally you may have thought that meant "One Way - Do not enter." Actually the horizon bar is the Chinese character for one, and I think the sign means "If you enter here you will be the only 'one' going in your direction;" but don't worry no one wants to hit you head on. This is a favorite for taxi drivers looking for shortcuts.

     We left Shanghai at 5:55PM and will arrive in Portland at 6:05PM the same day. Despite the quick flight or related to the quick flight this is a very long never ending day. It's still the same day that we left our apartment 22 hours ago, and it's only a sunny three in the afternoon.

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