Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Point A to Point B

Our Driver Tao
FORD employees are sternly advised NOT to drive while in China. The congestion and rules of the road are very different and the traffic signals are a bit of a mystery requiring hours of instruction. Our driver, Tao, is a very safe driver; he buckles up, treats the car well and his road rage at some of the rampant craziness is minor. I sit in the back seat behind Tao so I don't have to watch what goes on in front of me and try not to gasp too loudly at the cars, taxis and city buses that "ooze" into our lane with nary a care in the world.  Somehow, it works.
As luxurious as it sounds to have a personal driver, it has taken some time to adjust. Yes, it's our lease car so we pay a monthly fee, but that car doesn't know our driveway or garage at all. I'm sure it thinks we're just guests in Tao's car. The car is NOT at our house, it's with Tao. So we must plan ahead.  We let Tao know ahead of time when he's needed next and try and stick to that. So there is no "running up to Walgreens" to grab a glue-stick or birthday card like we used to do in Michigan.  Pre-planning is the key to this game and spontaneity has pretty much vanished.

Some of that has changed with the purchase of an electric bike.  Made by Giant, the Big Guy decided he needed the LaFree 206T. It would decrease the dependency on Tao and our sonic blue 2011 FORD Focus. 

"Think of what this would mean in getting from Point A to Point B!" he reasoned.

So he procured the new motorized vehicle and I cautiously climbed behind him. Off we zipped one winter day. Before you imagine flowing locks blowing freely in the wind please understand that most of the time my hooded head was  hunkered-down and hidden behind the Big Guy's navy parka-draped back. My gloved fingers death-gripped his waist. Initially because I was a nervous wreck at the prospect of a fatality (mine), and additionally because it was bitter cold in January and February and his torso blocked the wind. Within a month of his purchase I succumbed to the pressure to also sport about on a LaFree 206T.  With great courage and caution I can glide and pedal down Jiangjun Da Dao to reach Point B and with the added benefit of seeing my surroundings.  

 LaFree 206T - equipped with 48 volt battery for distance of 64 km/40 miles
and a top speed of 32 kph/20 mph
Big Guy and my Blue Bike - they didn't have Red!

The result?  We have a wee bit more independence and can leave the compound for small excursions and errands. We can motor up to the corner grocery store, an ATM or a Beijing Duck Restaurant without relying on our driver Tao. Ahhhhh the taste of freedom! Our new bikes are licensed here in China but would be unusable on a public street in the USA.  We hope to use them on a country road or backwoods path upon our return. 

Life has changed in getting us from Point A to Point B.  Back in the USA approximately 95% of our comings and goings revolved around our own personal car.  Each adult in the household had an automobile at their disposal. The phrase "hop into the car" was used frequently and it truly was that easy.  There was a great sense of independence that we miss. 

That independence changed drastically when we arrived in Nanjing.  We have broadened our modes of transportation and throughout these past 12 months have used a variety of vehicles to take us from Point A to Point B.
  • car with personal driver
  • city bus
  • taxi
  • rickshaw in Beijing
  • subway train
  • high speed bullet train (attaining speeds up to 300 kmph/186 mph)
  • bicycle
  • electric bicycle
  • cable car over the Great Wall
  • luge sled in Harbin, China
  • boat in the Phi Phi Islands of Phuket
  • tuk-tuk in Thailand

Our 'kids' were just here to visit and if you know the Big Guy and me you know what that meant to us.  We delighted in showing them where and how we live in our city of 6.5 million and how we get around from place to place. We enjoyed the luxury of a trip to China's current capital, Beijing.  They met our China 'family' and ate the local cuisine like real-troopers.

It was magical and far too short.

In tummy-flipping anticipation of them all flying over the ocean; training, taxi-ing and Metro-transiting to us from Los Angeles and Detroit I couldn't help but sing this song in my head...

Oleta Adams
Sometimes going from Point A to Point B is not about recreation or running errands.

Sometimes going from Point A to Point B does not underscore our independence or the lack of it.

Instead, sometimes going from Point A to Point B is about getting to those who mean the world to us...the entire world.
GWJ2~ JD~AJ~me~Big Guy
The Great Wall - Beijing, China
Hurry Back!

Thanks for Reading,