Traffic Laws

There appear to be none.

Having spent about ten days here now and done much walking around, I was ready to accept that at some point in my short stay here in Shanghai I’d probably end up in a mangled heap on the asphalt and swear never to come back ever again.

On closer inspection though, there does in fact appear to be just one traffic law in China:

force equals mass times acceleration

Simply put, the larger, faster vehicles will probably win. Certainly the bus and taxi drivers behave as though this is the truth (and who am I to argue with such a strong case?)

Shanghai Traffic

A quiet day for Shanghai, by Shanghai Sky (via flickr)

Crossing the road is rather more, shall we say, “entertaining” than in places like Germany or the UK. In such countries, the red light stops the traffic and the people cross and everyone takes turns and it’s all very civilised (if a tad slow), and pretty much everyone comes out of it with their vehicles/limbs etc intact.

But, let’s be perfectly honest here: Where’s the fun in that? Let’s take a closer look at transport methods here in Asia.

Here, it works like this:

Lanes

Lanes don’t really mean much: they’re more of a guide really. There’s an extra outside lane that’s fenced off on each side of major roads. This is mostly used by bikes, mopeds, etc. They travel in whichever direction pleases them.

Taxis

Taxis are cheap and plentiful. You can even use your Shanghai metro card on them (take note, London). Changing lanes is done with utmost efficiency, thus menacing all other road users.

Taxis appear to be powered by their horns.

Mopeds

E-bikes, mopeds and the like are very popular due to their low price and cheap taxes. They use the main lane of major roads, the extra outside lane, and the pavement. They are also silent. At night, to save fuel, they keep their lights off.

Minimum occupancy: three persons.

Bicycles

The standard load is as follows: 10 cubic metres of cardboard boxes / steel poles / bamboo / chickens. Riders are encouraged to be on the phone, holding an umbrella, or both at the same time. At night, to save batteries, they keep their lights off.

Minimum occupancy: two persons.

Traffic lights

  1. Green light does countdown.
  2. Taxis, buses, mopeds, bicycles  speed up to avoid being caught at traffic light.
  3. Light changes to red.
  4. The last few straggling taxis and buses that didn’t quite make it continue anyway so as not to cause too much of a queue at the red light they just left behind.
  5. People now begin to cross.
  6. Bicycles, mopeds, taxis turning a corner on a red light (sometimes left, sometimes right, sometimes left across 6 lanes) continue to do so.
  7. Wildebeest strategy now comes into play: the edge of the herd is the most dangerous place to be. So, I ensure that there are at least a couple of people between me and the oncoming vehicles: preferably children or the elderly. This is to ensure that I’m not the first one to get mowed down.
  8. Red light does countdown.
  9. Pedestrians now speed up as much as possible because…
  10. … at about 3 seconds to go, the taxis, buses, etc will start to drive through the junction (because almost-green is pretty much actually-green)

And there you have it. A condensed guide to city traffic in China. I’m no expert yet: I’m still perfecting the confident-stride-through-bike-lane, but that will come with time and practice.

Send him to the tower!

I’ve arrived. Shanghai is a pretty impressive place. I like to describe it as “four Londons next to each other, each as tall as Manhattan”.

[Warning: nerd information lies ahead]

In fact, I noticed that the Shard (not to be confused with the shart) opened this week in London, and at 300-or-so metres is the tallest building in the EU. I’d like to point out that Shanghai has at least 3 buildings over 400m and the new Shanghai Tower is going to be coming in next year at a whopping 630 metres! Take that, London.

by Huseyin Huseyin

A little bit taller than London

I’ve now settled into the 31st / 28th / 27th floor of my skyscraper office building. The building, Ciro’s Plaza, is names after Ciro’s dance hall, which originally stood on the site around a hundred years ago. The hall moved sites a few decades back, but they have kept a small reminder of the former site in the skyscraper’s name.

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say in the coming months about working in a skyscraper. The major differences I’ve noticed so far:

  • ears popping in the lift,
  • much less space than I’m used to (if I lean back in my seat, I end up knocking into the person behind me),
  • and a much more interesting view out the window. No corn fields here!

 

Is China Getting too Pricey for IT Professionals?

It seems that China, a country that’s a huge draw for IT companies because of its astonishing growth in the tech industry, may be getting too expensive for foreign companies to place people there.

The most significant finding of this year’s study is that it’s getting much more expensive to live in China. After the top four cities – all of which are in Japan – the most expensive places to live are Beijing and then Shanghai in fifth and sixth respectively.

Having seen the exhorbitant cost of my apartment for the next six months, I’m inclined to agree. And I haven’t even got there yet.

Yikes

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH

This took me way too long to make.

So I’m going to be working on a project in China later this year. It’s been, what, 3 days since I got the offer and I’ve already printed out and signed so many forms that I should probably donate a hefty portion of my income to a rainforest charity to make up for the guilt.

I do however have some extremely capable and practical team assistants who are helping me to cope with the deluge of paperwork (because, let’s face it, I’m not bureaucracy’s best friend).

Only a fool mixes bureaucracy and logic.

– Ancient Chinese proverb*

Still, it’s totally worth it.

What a To-Do

On the to-do list so far are items such as “learn Mandarin” (how hard can it be?) and “eat an animal I’ve never heard of” (somewhat easier than the previous item). Let’s see how far I get.

Of course, I also really want to take a metric buttload** of pictures and put the best ones up on my flickr page, so look out for them here too.

* no it isn’t.
** this is an official SI unit, you know.