Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Car

As mentioned in previous posts, the transportation situation in Dalian is, well, frightening at best. Our best mode of transport is by taxi. The typical taxi does not have seatbelts and reeks of cigarette smoke. You are extremely lucky if the handles, which are used to operate the windows (1) are there, or (2) work.

And then there's the fact that taxis view red lights as decorative objects, pedestrians as nuisances, and sidewalks as elevated highways.

This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to actually leave my apartment. The fact is, I have to get Chase to/from appointments, I have to go shopping, and I have to do this all without a car seat. It makes me ill just thinking about it. So I try really hard not to.

The good news, is that hubs is working on securing a car and driver, which will actually provide safe transport (yes, we have a car seat that is ready to go!). He has been working with an agent to determine which cars are in our price range - but they must include a driver, as we have heard that Western drivers are often targets. You end up in court, and of course you can't understand a thing, and are taken for everything. Not fun. Plus all signs are in Chinese. Sure, we navigated through Europe, but reading characters on a map is, well, beyond difficult. (I can just see me saying to Hubs, "look for the exit with a sign that has a box with a couple dashes coming from the center, one dash from the right and it has what looks to be a hat on the top.")

So Hubs had four cars pull up in front of his office yesterday. With two representatives from each car company. He sat in the back of each, determined how much leg room/head room each offered, etc. Sadly, the one I was rooting for ended up being the one with the least headroom (he couldn't even sit up straight in it!).

After a thorough investigation of each, with a huge party of car representatives taking note of his every move, he almost decided on one. But it wasn't the car he wanted. So, he contacted another party to see if he could get a better deal on the car he wanted, and presto, change-o, it looks like we can get the car he wants - and it is within our price range. Fab-U.

So come Febbie, we'll have a safe mode of transport. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that - although I must say, I won't miss the driving on the sidewalk, the move to outrun a trolley in a lane with oncoming traffic, making a right across oncoming traffic from a far left lane ... I wish I could get some good action photos, but really you must be in the car as it can only be enjoyed if you are in a zen state.

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