Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Commute

During the school year I have a commute to my middle school which is in one of the old parts of the city. I do this Monday through Friday. It takes about 45 minutes for me to get from my apartment to the school, and involves a couple of legs.
My bus stop is only a 3 minute walk from home. Sometimes I leave in the early morning.
Sometimes it's midday. Oh look, here comes a motorcycle dude, ear piercing horn tooting, trolling for a rider.
Sometimes I catch a bus at night, but that's a different school.

The blonde is Chinese. I don't think it's natural.
Some people bring a lot of extra stuff onto the bus. It still only costs 2 yuan.
You never know what you'll see during the trip.
Depending on the traffic conditions and mental state of the driver, I arrive 25 to 35 minutes later in Chikkan. This old lady is always on this corner selling smokes and lighters. She wears a different hat each day. If I smoked I'd buy from her.

The best part of the commute is going through the park. I always leave about an hour before class starts to give me a buffer in case the bus is late or runs over a motorcycle. The direct route through the park only takes a few minutes to walk, but if I have time, I'll take the scenic route, and maybe stop to listen to some Chinese opera played by old folks. The walk takes me up a hill, one of the only hills in town. The school is at the top.

Hey, it's my branch of the school. The school has 6,000 students and straddles both sides of the street. There are numerous street vendors and shops who sell stuff that students like, from weenies on a stick and fresh fruit to dumplings and noodles. It's a pretty lucrative trade I think.
During lunch, before and after classes, the street is jammed with cars, motorcycles, and kids going home or other places. I mean jammed. Vehicles do not move, and you have thousands of kids everywhere. Since school starts at seven o'clock and ends at five, I miss this fun since their day is bookended with study times and my last classes end 50 minutes before the end.
I always make a beeline for the bus stop so that I can get out of the old part of town before rush hour. The narrow streets can get pretty jammed up between five and six o'clock, creating an extra 20 to 30 minutes on what is always a very crowded bus.
The buses have excellent air conditioning systems, overly aggressive drivers, well functioning horns, and very squeaky brakes. The brakes get a lot of hard use. There is always some idiot pulling in front of the bus, and most of the drivers like to go at maximum speed. Many slam on the brakes when coming to a bus stop, rather than slow gradually down.
In spite of this, I have never seen anybody fall, or any kids slam their heads on the seat in front of them. It's kind of miraculous.
Click the pix for larger picture.