Diary from China

Excerpt from the Diary: Tuesday, July 26, 2005 – Shanghai, China
". . . Zhang Wei (Stephan’s friend from the University of Maryland) and her mother and Stephan and I took the bus downtown to see if they gave him a visa to extend his stay (they DID – hurray!) and we got the last two tickets on the sleeper car to I-don’t-remember-where-but-the-ride-is-about-15-hours-long tomorrow afternoon."

Stephan with Zhang Wei's mother Xu Jiamei.

[below, left]: Stephan with Zhang Wei (left, looking out the window) and her mother Xu Jiamei.
[below, right]: Passengers are entertained with a television at the front of the bus.

Excerpt from Diary -- Thursday, July 28, 2005:
"Maybe this is a good time to share my only experience seeing a blind person. As we rode from the airport my first day in China, I happened to see a man with a white cane walking along the street! Actually he was walking IN the street, along the gutter, using a very good cane technique to follow the curb. I wondered why he wasn't walking on the sidewalk, it seemed perfectly fine and the street looked like a dangerous place to walk (these drivers, I've found out, DON'T CARE about you! Kinda reminded me of Thailand 30 years ago, where we crossed the street lane by lane, only here the lanes are a little more ambiguous and I wouldn't dare stand where cars could pass me by).

"Anyway, the other day I think I found out why the poor guy was walking in the street, because I found MYSELF walking in the street very much against my will! Most sidewalks here have a railing along the curb, our friends told me it was to keep the drivers off the sidewalk but the curb would make it difficult for them to drive there, my guess is that it's to keep pedestrians from crossing mid-block. We were getting off the bus, which let us off in the bicycle lane about in the middle of the block (they don't pull up to the curb as there is about 4-foot-wide lane for bicycles next to the curb and I guess they don't want to block that off while letting passengers off, so you have to be very careful because the bicyclists don't seem to consider they might mow down the passengers stepping off the bus!) After making sure we wouldn't be killed by the bicyclists I realized OOPS! There was the railing right in front of us, extending the entire length of the block! [see photos below] Our friends nonchalantly started walking along the street in the bicycle lane to the corner. These bicyclists, by the way, also have no regard for pedestrians so I was very nervous!"

The bus driver let us off in the middle of the block where a fence blocked us off from the sidewalk . . .

… and we were forced to walk in the street – yikes!

Our destination – the visa office

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