Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It rained today. This is excessively exciting being that we have experienced no precipitation whatsoever since being here. Unless, of course, you count sand storms. Despite the fact that it very rarely rains, everyone in Beijing is more than prepared. The city, which is completely reliant on bicycles as the backbone of its infrastructure simultaneously dons rain ponchos. And these aren't just any old rain ponchos; they're brightly colored plastic ponchos which are longer in front than in back so that they can be draped over and fastened to a bicycle's handlebars. In theory, this keeps your upper body, backpack, legs and hands dry. In practice, I'm not sure what it actually achieves because I didn't wear one. I figured better to keep a shred of my dignity and just put on my Gore-Tex raincoat.

The city was quite beautiful in the rain, with all the sounds kind of muffled and everything moving at a slightly slower pace. That was until I ran into another student on a bicycle. The bike lanes in Beijing are for two types of vehicles: bicycles and city buses. Though this seems pretty counter intuitive it works alright. As I was riding the final block towards school I was between a bus and the curb. I couldn't see around the bus and out of nowhere another student on a bicycle rides head on into the bicycle lane. This is a generally stupid thing to do as it was clear that bikes couldn't see around the bus, but native Beijingers have a very different sense of safety. In the end she just gave a little yelp, apologized and rode away. I caught myself from falling on the side of the bus, whose driver was kind enough not to run my over. And though now thoroughly wet, I still didn't have to suffer the embarrassment of wearing one of those ponchos.

2 comments:

Virginia said...

Hi there. I'm a pal of your Aunt Rachel's and just wanted to let you know I'm really enjoying all your posts from China. I was particularly fascinated by the need to shove people to get where you want to go.

Nina said...

So interesting. Is it a bad sign that I shove on the T when I want a seat or need to get off while never having experienced such dense population? It can't be anywhere near as crowded...