Posted by: Lotus Light | June 11, 2012

Road Trip!!!

Travelling anywhere in China faster than a horse can take you means you miss just so much of what is happening. But… China is too big to ride a trusty steed and actually get very far. So there are times when you just have to take a road trip.

This weekend was one such time. The Foreign Affairs Office took us on our annual weekend away, this time to Luoyang to see the White Horse Temple and the Longman Grottoes. I thoroughly enjoyed both, but I also really enjoyed the journey as well.

Road trips give all sorts of experiences and emotions. First of all – gratitude. I am so truly grateful that I am not a construction worker or service station bathroom attendant. Marking a stack of papers disappears as an onerous and horrible task in comparison.

Construction worker ‘housing’ complete with patriotic flag

Wistfulness could be next on the list. I see glimpses of lives I will never lead in places I will never live. Quick images of farmers in the fields, cyclists on their way to work, or shopkeepers waiting for customers. I will never know these people, and their lives will forever be a mystery to me.

Perplexed is another feeling that drifts past on the journey. Recycled police cars now do duty wedged between the cliff and safety railings, flashers still attached to warn drivers that the police MIGHT be around. Still, it is a great use for cop cars past their use by date. And as there are not enough old police cars, then a large cardboard cutout of a police van with its flashers will be stationed at intervals. Other places are a little more exciting – they have statues of police officers stationed along the road.

Complete with cardboard police officer

Bemusement also at the number of heavy transports on the road. China is rapidly being transported from one side to another. Once on the major highways the semis outnumber passenger cars 100 to 1. They are whacking great big things as well, carrying everything from donkeys to the weirdest shaped bits and pieces of machinery you’ve seen. The number of car transport semis is amazing. Semis in China are longer than those in Australia anyway, but the car transports are at least eight cars long, and double-decked. Not so bad?? Well, now the companies have figured out that if they turn the top deck into a miniature runway, they can fit 16 cars on top, and eight underneath!

One semi accident had bags of garlic spilled across the highway – crushed garlic by the ton!

Then there is sheer joy. Joy – in driving for hour after hour? Ohhh yes!

One of the things travellers from any country love when they travel to any country is the ‘creative’ use the locals have for our own language. Everyone has good Spanglish, Gerglish etc stories to tell and in China there is a whole slew of fantastic Chinglish signs. And I have a sub-genre – Road Signs. The road signs range from the deeply profound to the totally banal; from the boringly almost normal to the hysterical.

This road trip was no different. I managed to find a couple of good ones for my collection.

(Please forgive the photography sometimes being a bit dodg. It is very difficult when you are in the back seat of a car, windows or windscreen not the clearest and with a driver who does not understand WHY you want to stop every kilometre or so to take photos of road signs! All he wants to do is get from A to b as rapidly as possible. Sleep (or a cranky wife!) awaits.

One of my favourites that resonates deep within my soul was one I found a couple of years ago. “Life comes but once. Do not drive inverse.” I often lay awake at night pondering on the depth in that one. Unfortunately, after several computer meltdowns, it has disappeared from my photographs, but never from my heart!

The curiously comforting image of my car attacking a big semi with a camera nearby to record my attack reminds me that I can be famous here.

Attack on semis

Then we have the interesting command “Do not drive tireply.” Tire ply – I’m not to have tires with ply on them?? Ok, but that could be difficult. It’s replacement – “Do not drive tiredly.” also strikes me as rather a odd command. I could drive fast, or slow, or even backwards – but driving tiredly makes my car sound quite exhausted. Will one wheel fall off from sheer lethargy?

Then we have a series of relatively normal signs that somehow don’t seem to have made it to the consciousness of the Chinese drivers. There is the fairly standard “Waste discarding prohibited” that really hasn’t made much of an impact. How about “No drunken driving”? This one often has the bottle of alcohol flying out of the window. Is it OK to throw alcohol out in disregard of the no waste discarding sign? Ah… alcohol is not waste you argue!!  

Then my new

favourite in this line. “Do not use mobile phone and drive.” HUH???? Didn’t the sign writer know that Chinese drivers have the mobile welded to their ears upon receiving their driver’s licence?? “Buckle Up” also belongs in this category, occasionally heeded but quite unusual to see. It is almost a reflection on the driver’s skill if a passenger wants to wear the seat belt. 

This trip gave me two more quite special ones to add to my collection. Unfortunately, the first made me laugh too much to be able to photograph it, so you will have to take my word for it. “No unlawful parking and watering on the highway.” I will allow the gentlemen readers to figure that one out for us.

There are so many more – and they will doubtless be added to in the future.  🙂

And finally one I leave to you to decipher ….



  1. That definitely looks like an interesting trip! Cool signage 🙂

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