In Stories, Travel, Travel Series

Travel: What it’s like to visit China – Safety as a tourist

It is dead scary to walk in China as a tourist.

Crossing the road, gives you a heart attack.

BICYCLES AND MOTORBIKES DON’T OBEY THE LAW

They think that they’re not “vehicles” like cars. They pretty much don’t stop at lights, will continue to go AGAINST oncoming traffic, and will not hesitate to beep and honk their horn at you, a pedestrian on the sidewalk, or trying to cross the street at a GREEN WALKING SIGNAL, because…. they’re on a motorbike.

Imagine all of this behind you, every single time you’re on where you think is a safe sidewalk: motorcycles, bicycles.. it’s insane.

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Sidewalk-Unsafe-Vehicles

 

.. BUT THEN AGAIN PEDETRIANS DON’T EITHER

Check it out — she’s pushing her baby stroller in the middle of the road even though sidewalks exist:

Shanghai-China-Baby-Carriage-Middle-of-the-Road
“EFF THOSE EFFIN’ SIDEWALKS! I WANT THE ENTIRE ROAD.”

THE LAW OF TRANSPORTATION: THE BIGGER YOU ARE, THE MORE POWER YOU HAVE

If you have a car, you’re a king. You trump the bicycles, the motorbikes, and most of all, PEDESTRIANS.

You can pretty much drive any damn where you want, including ON SIDEWALKS where people are walking.


We were walking along and heard a “BEEP BEEP”, which ended up being a car coming at us. Freaky, right?

Very common in China.

Shanghai-China-Transportation-Cars-on-the-Sidewalk-No-respect-No-rules

A crazy-ass Chinese driver on the sidewalk. NO JOKE.

The worst aren’t the cars — some sidewalks are not big enough for them, but the motorcycles and bicycles.

There aren’t any traffic rules or regulations, and people do and go where they want, and park where they want.

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Traffic-Cars-Sidewalk

If you want to see a video that I personally took of an area that is considered to be SAFER than the rest of Shanghai, just watch this insanity:

THE ONLY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION THAT TRUMPS A CAR? A TRAIN.

The only thing that trumps cars, buses, bicycles, motorbikes and pedestrians are TRAINS.

EVERYONE stops at a train track, no exceptions. A train WILL kill you, and CAN kill you, so they understand that enough to obey the rules.

I wasn’t thoroughly excited at this lack of safety, which alongside pollution, is another reason why I won’t go back to China any time soon.

OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORTATION: THIS HYBRID MOTORBIKE-CAR TUK TUK DEAL

I think I’ve seen this on TV in some other countries like Thailand, or India, but it is definitely not something common on Europe or North America.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Transportation-Covered-Bicycle-Tuktuks

 

What it is, is basically an electric motorcycle, with a cover on it.

This is what a fancy one looks like, up close: It is T.I.N.Y.

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Motorcycle-Tuk-Tuk-Red

You can fit one person in front (driver), and one person RIGHT behind, in a mini seat. They didn’t look very comfortable, spacious, OR safe.


…although they probably have more clout on the road to run people over than a walking pedestrian, so it’s a toss-up who would die first in this situation.

China is not a country for the faint-hearted who are used to crossing at lights, cars and vehicles stopping for them, and not having to worry about being run over in the streets.

If you want more proof of this, just google: China accident traffic pedestrian.

THE ONLY PLACE YOU ARE SAFE, IS IN THE RICHER AREA

During rush hour, they have a traffic controller (police officer), and other non-police officer traffic controllers to help.

The police officer with his uniform has the most weight in the nicest area of Shanghai (Xintiandi, where the Apple store is), and everyone is VERY polite to each other, obeying BASIC traffic rules when he’s around.

They need an officer to obey Basic. Traffic. Rules.

Here’s a video I took of this boy on a bike, and the police officer giving him a scolding for not obeying him:

Anyway, if you aren’t an officer, you get people like this, trying to sneak past you because they don’t respect your lack of uniform, like this guy stopping a motorcyclist:

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Pointing-to-Stop-Someone

MOST TOURISTS DON’T SEE OR EXPERIENCE THIS

Most people don’t recognize how crazy it is in China compared to North America, because they’re shuttled around in buses or nice cars, or even just take taxis everywhere.

They DEFINITELY don’t walk, and aren’t accosted by bikes or cars on sidewalks coming at them.

An utter lack of police enforcement (or the inability to really hunker down on violators), contributes to this lack of safety.

Being constantly vigilant that you could be run over, becomes very taxing and mentally exhausting after even 3 days.

You definitely couldn’t be walking and texting in this country, or even daydreaming.

You will most certainly meet your death, and you’d have to be careful if you DO get run over, because if you don’t die instantly, a driver may actually back up and try to finish you off so they don’t have to pay you or your family compensation.

Reason? Once you’re dead, you can’t collect.

If you think I’m joking, watch this very NOT SAFE FOR WORK and painful video of a toddler getting run over.

CHINESE PEOPLE ARE USED TO THIS

They take it all in stride. Just check out this SUPER busy street  (highway, really) where cars are STILL in motion like these buses, and people are crossing anyway.

We were scared out of our minds.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Crossing-the-Street

Then we saw this black, luxury vehicle barreling down, SPEEDING UP and aiming for the pedestrians (or so it seems), honking all the way:

Beijing-China-Photograph-Crossing-the-Street-Car

The black car literally barreled his way through pedestrians and people, who cross without any concern for their or their kid’s safety.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Crossing-the-Street-Car-2


Share Tweet Pin It +1

Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

You may also like

Travel Tales: Plastic Bag Toilets in China

Posted on January 9, 2015

Previous PostWhy a car is a non-essential luxury
Next PostIn the world of Save. Spend. Splurge.

8 Comments

  1. Morgaine

    Put this on my mental checklist of why never to go to China! Actually, its never been on my list of places to go but this tops it. I was hit by a car once and its an experience I’d really like to not repeat!

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      China, India, Russia, Middle East, Africa (entire continent).. are all off my list.

      Reply
      1. SarahN

        @save. spend. splurge.: Hmm that’s a lot of countries you’ve ticked off. All cause they don’t follow road rules as you’d like?

        Reply
        1. save. spend. splurge.

          No, all because of safety or other similar reasons (plus lack of desire to visit)

          Reply
  2. Brittany@FunonaBudgetBlog

    This looks intense! Waaaaaay different from the regulations and dedicated “rule followers” here

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Yeah it’s not for the faint of heart.

      Reply
  3. C
    Corianne

    Haha, your video definitely is a prime example of very safe traffic (for Chinese standards). It’s a rich area, very well designed crossroads, traffic lights at all corners, people actually/mostly stopping for traffic lights.

    When I lived in China, the first two weeks or so I was quite scared to cross streets. The first day, I was like: OMG, how will I live here? I’m too scared even to cross the street. But after a while you develop a sort of sixth sense for traffic coming at you from all directions. At least you’re not *surprised* anymore that people honk at you or don’t obey basic traffic rules.

    Not to say, there are definitely some pretty horrendous accidents that happen. The most horrible thing even is that people get hit, and everybody is watching from a distance, but nobody is actually HELPING or just even CHECKING if that person is ok, or just keep talking to them while waiting for an ambulance. Seen it a couple of times on the streets, and it’s extremely sad and heart-breaking.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Effin’ crazy. I couldn’t really live there.

      Reply

Leave a Reply