Friday, February 4, 2011

Taking your life in your hands

Hong Kong and Kowloon have an amazing amount of people for such a small place. These people are constantly on the go. The pace is unrelenting, and you had best be up to the task or you will be left behind.

Like any city with loads of people, there is a choice of how to get around. Hong Kong thrives on it’s mass transit, though cabs are plentiful. There are taxis as mentioned, walking, the MTR (subway), buses, trolleys, and of course, the water ferries. Best thing is that it is relatively inexpensive to move through the city!

Walking: However you travel, there is a fair amount of walking involved. You heed to walk to get to the bus stop, the MTR or the Ferry terminals. One might think that walking would be the safest way to get around the city. Think again. Because of HK’s pace, walking is dangerous. Staying on the sidewalk does not guarantee your safety. The first thing to fear are the people themselves. Heads are down and paths are straight. Straight through you if necessary. Next is crossing the street. Crossing the street is pretty much like being in a live Frogger game. You would think that with the amount of pedestrians in the city, that pedestrians would be kings. Not here. Not all intersections have lights, only the main ones. Remember, this crowd drives on the “wrong” side. Thankfully the streets are painted with “look right, look left” just to give you better odds of getting across alive.

Buses. Remember when you learned how to drive? Or better yet, have you taught someone how to drive? I taught both kids (Kirk more than Kari, which might explain his many citations), and we worked tirelessly on smooth accelerations and smooth braking. Well, the bus drivers in Hong Kong never got that lesson at bus school. Once all people have cleared the door, it is all speed ahead and every passenger for themselves.

Drivers stomp on the accelerators. There is no waiting until people are seated. Every bus I have been on is a double decker bus. After my first ride and after I careened up the stairs and then down when it was time to alight, I have never tried to go upstairs again. I find the first seat I can, pretty soon I won’t care if it is occupied. Some riders have to stand. These people wedge themselves against the rails as tightly as possible. I have a sneaking suspicion that the drivers bet how many riders can be knocked on their asses each day. Corey thinks there is an over/under.

Some time I’ll tell you about the MTR and the Ferries, both of which are my favorite modes of travel, just because I am less likely to come out wounded.

No comments:

Post a Comment