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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting around.

Now that the weather is starting to get warmer we will be walking more rather than taking a taxi. For where we live and where we go it is only 5rmb or $0.75US for a taxi to take us. The cars are all small or smaller and there are different prices. There are taxis that are very dirty and barely held together and then there are newer taxis that are cleaner and a little bigger. It is 5rmb for the first 2km for any taxi and after that it varies in price from 1.3rmb to 1.6rmb for each additional 0.5km I think. There are buses as well but we haven't tried them yet. There is no subway in Jiamusi but there are rickshaws. The rickshaws are usually only 2 or 3rmb. The rickshaws are three wheeled bikes with an enclosed seat for two on the back. The drivers sit out front and control their own prices. I don't think the rickshaws are company owned like the taxis. Traffic lights have countdown timers on them showing how long before it changes to either green, yellow or red. Even with the lights I haven't seen any order to the traffic other than to keep moving. It seems the bigger you are the more right of way you have. Everyone uses their horns alot to let people or other motorist know they are coming. It is a lot like when in baseball two outfielders are going to catch the same fly ball and the one who calls out first that they got it is the one who tries to catch the ball. We have been in taxis that have turned left from the far right lane. The roads are marked off in three lanes each way with a bearier between directions. Cars, buses and bikes all share the road with people walking along the side and crossing anywhere. Even though the lanes are marked cars weave from lane to lane or even straddle the lines sometimes going five wide in three lanes or at lights six or seven wide. At the lights the taxis try to time it so they are already half way through their turns by the time the light turns green, like someone stealing a base in baseball. We haven't seen any accidents but I have heard of one. We have seen an ambulance get held up at a light because nobody wanted to move even with its lights and siren going. We have also seen police out at lights but do not know what they are there for. I have seen police going down the road with lights on and getting passed and cut off by taxis. People are a little more courteous with cars that are black, especially when they have dark tint. These cars are usually owned by people with money or power or both.

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