Why, why, why, I asked myself so many times. Why do drivers in china have to horn like crazy, in every curve, with every obstacle in their way, with every, in my eyes, senseless reason. Everyone on the road uses his horn like you would use your brake in Germany.
I would get crazy if I had to live here, crazy and deaf. Maybe that is the reason why people here scream so loud at each other: they are almost deaf from the horning of the traffic.
Finally, after being in china for more than three month, I found the reason and I must say, its kind of logic to me.
Two days ago I saw a car from a driving school. Inside the teacher and the pupil. They passed us and we them several times. their car was painted like a crash-test-dummy-car and even looked like it had been used for just that several times. They were inter alia busy with learning how to get from a parking lot onto the street, how to overtake and how to cross a crossing.
Guess how: blow your horn. All the pupil ever did, as far as I could see, was blowing his horn. No look over the shoulder when entering the street, no look back before starting the overtaking, no look left or right when crossing a street. Blowing your horn is something like painting your car pink so that people see you better. The one blowing his horn first will be the one going first. Red lights, street sides and other “ridiculous” traffic inventions are not important in this “game”. For example: you overtake in a curve where you can impossibly see if another car comes around the corner. To avoid a frontal crash, you horn. This gives you the right to overtake, even if the other car has to wait now on its side of the road until you passed.
Horning in china is like an extra tool to look around a corner, state who is more important an who is allowed to go first.
Of course there are different type of horns. Different kinds of vehicles can be identified, without seeing them, by their horns. I will name them in the order that their importance is handled from low to high: walking and bicycling, motorcycle and three wheelers, car, truck, and bus.
Strange enough this is something that seems to be holy here. Hardly any motorcyclist would make use of a bus-horn, even though it would give him much more freedom and importance.
And so, when people hear a horn of the royal road user “the bus”, which is all over the country treated godlike on the streets, everyone jumps,runs and flees to make room for the incoming, un-braked missile of a bus which often shoot through city’s and crowded marketplaces as if they where on a highway. Even the small kids and most of the animals know what to do. Run for your life, if you don’t, you or get run over, or deaf by the eardrum- breaking noise.
The crazy thing is: watching the traffic situation here in china,one would say, that death and destruction must be everywhere.
But it isn’t. The horning-system and the attend way people behave in this traffic is so perfectly accepted by everyone, that the few crashes we saw up to now could be seen more like an exception that confirms the rule than a consequence of driving like crazy.
Still, I’ve lost my nerves several times already and screamed at the drivers with lifted middle finger like I was insane. When a car or else overtakes me just to brake down right in front of me and chat with someone at the street side, or someone forces me to get of the road by coming for me like a hara-kiri-driver, Paul says to me, when he fears my middle finger could go up once more an my voice could shout a row of German swear words at a “innocent” driver: Hansen, calm down, he probably doesn’t mean it that way, he just doesn’t know how it is to sit on a bike in the middle of this traffic”. And he is right. The Chinese don’t have anything evil in mind when they ” almost run me over”. when exploding sometimes and puking my opinion about their driving skills on the windshield of a vehicle, the driver probably thinks:” why is he so angry, nothing happened.
Fact is, I have to get used to one rule. In china, the one that is stronger has the right of way. And watching this traffic it makes totally sense. No driver in a car could ever take a turn when he would have to watch out for all cyclists on the street.
I am going to stick to one thing. I will watch my way and give in when necessary. It’s the only way of getting to Shanghai in one piece.
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