Sunday, 24 February 2008

The bus trip to remember.............

But I get the feeling that there will be more of them!

Shanghai's roadways are modern and uptodate - a massive series of motorways, overpasses, bridges, toll gates, and traffic. Traffic of all kinds. The number of big (OK, not quite as big as we now see on our Brisbane roads), trucks, carrying all sorts of products, wind there way along the three lanes dodging cars, and buses, in a hair raising manner which would see many of them being chased by police with lights flashing. But none of that.

Cars, buses, and trucks often at great speed wend their way across lanes, pushing (without touching) the other traffic out of the way. Horns blare to signal that there is a vehicle trying to get into your lane, or is in your lane. Double lines? Ignored. Everyone seems to dive back and forth across the lanes at speed.

I think my mouth was stuck in "wide open in awe" as we watched the extra ordinary pace of life in the fast lane in Shanghai. On either side of the roadways were great plantings of trees and bushes. Nothing is green. Much of it suffering from the recent cold weather and snow, but no doubt getting ready for the warmer weather, rain and with any luck - if it can get through the smog, the sun. But the plants are all neatly trimmed.

Our journey of "three hours" took over four. The two girls (our welcoming party) slept for most of the trip and M1 andM2 and I just watched the events and tried to make sense of the views of life in China.

Of course there were many buildings - old houses (some set for demolition), and new houses. Old factories, and new factories. Acres and acres of small versions of the plastic hothouses (slightly smaller) of the sort we grow our Gerberas in, back in Gough Hill Farm. Advertising signs everywhere - on both sides of the freeway for as far as the eye can see great poles with huge posters advertising all sorts of things, including cars, phones etc.

On either side of the road there were small farms, and small collections of houses which were two or three stories high. On some of the farms there would me men with hoes, digging at the soil. People on three wheeled vehicles - with a box of things in the front, or being pulled behind them were on the small roads. These vehicles do not venture onto themain motorway here, but you see many of them on the side roads.

Canals and lakes are everywhere. I'd have loved to stop and take some photos but it was impossible to stop on the freeway - and on and on we went, still in awe.

The land is pretty flat, but every now and then you could see a hill/mountain, and on the top would be a pagoda. Then flat land again for miles. We were told it would be three hour trip, but it took much longer.

We were tired, having not really slept for 48 hours, and we were glad to make the outskirts of Shaoxing. Leaving the freeway behind we drove right into the chaos of traffic in the city. Hundreds and hundreds of people on bicycles, (some battery powered or motorised) and trucks, and cars, and pedestrians - all seeking some space on the chaotic roadway. It was quite frightening as our driver seemed to ignore all roadrules to get us to our destination.

The things we saw and could make no sense of. Nothing is the same, and I will be saying that often. Nothing is as we know it. It is a different world. This is China.

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