Flying Spur: a word on driving in China
We'd been warned. Pulling out of the Pangu 7 Star would kick off a seven-hour stint in some of the most interesting traffic and driving to be had on this planet--Rome, Tokyo, Boston included.
What's so resale-endangering about driving here? First, remember taking your learner's-permit test, if you dare. Now imagine taking it without knowing anything about cars or signals, or lane discipline. Then, render the whole mise en-scene as a videogame version of Black Hawk Down. Every blind corner has its own obstacle, its own split-second decision. Right turn! Left turn!
Here's the one-line driving test they should give at the airport, instead of the cursory eye exam: "A tanker truck is stopped at entrance of your lane of a dark tunnel. A man on a bicycle is emerging from the shadows in the other lane. Another truck is approaching quickly in your rear mirror while the driver is texting with two hands. What do you do?"
"Proceed with caution" is fine, but we would also have taken my answer: "I don't know, slide into it, aim for the gas tank, and pray for a forgiving god."
People ambling, dogs shambling, other drivers gambling with your lives and theirs. In any other country, the same conditions we found between diving into Beijing traffic and our midway stop at the Great Wall at Jinshanling...well, they would have come with an advanced-care directive.
Spoiler alert: we made it back safely, pleasantly surprised by how navigable traffic was, once you abandoned things like "rules."