It was a short – lasting 36 hours – trip to China.
To be very frank, I expected an India-like feeling on the roads – no traffic sense, people jumping lines and crossing traffic lights, crossing roads wherever and whenever they wanted. But it was exact opposite.
The flight landed in Hong Kong. “The airport is huge”, I thought. “But what the hell, we also have a T3”.
The proud Indian ego had countered the first impression.
(And why did people complain so much about the thick carpet at T3. HK airport also had a similar carpet adorning its floors.)
But the other impressions which followed were difficult to be countered.
The taxi which was to take us to Mainland China was called Limousine on paper. It was not that long car we generally have in mind but was a huge MUV – a Toyota Alphard – Pretty awesome. It had run 2,50,000 kms but still was ‘fresh as a daisy’.
One of the major reasons for that was explained by the next impression – the road infrastructure. If they had those kinds of roads why wouldn’t the life of the vehicle be multiplied. And it was not just the highways but all around. It was told that even the villages had same kind of ‘makhan-like’ roads.
Most of the 36 hours was spent on the roads so there were more observations about that. There were plenty of tolls on the way and almost all of them were ‘manned’ by women – even at late hours. And they looked happy doing the job. They smiled, greeted and after the payment was done, thanked and held their hand out in a guiding direction towards the exit. It was a pleasant change from what you see at the Indian toll stops.
The most surprising part though was that people had patience and the traffic sense. The pedestrians waited for the traffic light to turn green before crossing the roads. Vehicles generally followed lanes. They were not in a hurry to get ahead on tolls. The height of such behavior was actually observed near the airport where one had to cross a really narrow stretch of road to reach the terminal. There was a light installed which was red for pedestrians. But there was not a single vehicle on that road. Still people stood there for good 5 minutes and moved ahead only when light turned green. I stood there, behind in the line for few seconds trying to understand why so many people were just standing there and was simply dumbstruck when I realised the reason for it.
Another interesting thing was street lights being run by windmills. Small windmill fans were installed on top of the lights along with solar panels which, I guess is an excellent way ‘go green’. Though not sure how viable it is.
Lastly, I found the large bill boards on road sides were a bit banal there (at least along the roads around Shenzhen which I roamed). Unlike India where we have actors and actresses or at least some images along with them, most of the bill boards there lacked such things. May be there is something that India can give China – a Shahrukh Khan perhaps!!
A billboard with a Hero