Beijing’s population, 20,180,000….
My last car, a 2004 Saturn Vue. It may have been a headache at times (as most of you from my Facebook page will remember, thank you again for all your advice) but I am not going to lie I still loved it despite its problems.
That car held a lot of memories. Singing my brains out to Sara Bareilles, car dancing with my sister Emily to Queen, packing it up and getting our family Christmas Tree in 2011, going to the beach in Tomahawk, buying my first bike rack and attaching it to that baby and being super stoked that it fit, commuting to UWSP at one point, and always packing it full of my best friends and family to do fun things. I was attached. I admit it. I fed into the Jones’ (even though it wasn’t the most amazing car) but I loved having it. I may not have loved filling the tank every other week but I still felt great having my own nice SUV.
So before I came to China, actually I think it was two weeks before, I sold my Vue paid off my loan and started a voyage of being car-less… “mom, can you please drop me off at my best friend Jess'” (yes that happened, and yes I felt like I was 12 again) and yes my loving mother would drop me off at Jess’. 😛
I have never been car-less. Ever. I have always been very lucky to have my prayers being answered and have a car there whether it be old or older I always had one to get me places. I’m sure a few good friends (Andrew you are one) remember my 1992, 98 Oldsmobile or aka The Boat. Which may have been a interesting ride, but I was very grateful I had it (here is a shout out to Aunt Vickie who gave my mom the car, who in turn gave it to me because mine broke down).
So I get to China without a car, and with a massive public transportation system laying in front of me, literally! I have ridden the subway before (back when I went to NY, or England) but honestly I was a follower in those cases and had no idea what I was doing on my own. I had never even rode the public/city bus! I had no idea what I was doing.
It all started when Sara and I got lost in Beijing by The Forbidden City. Some of us (*cough* Sara, I LOVE YOU,) started freaking out. Eventually I was slightly worried as well! It was scary, we didn’t know how to get back we had no idea where we were and top that off with not knowing the language. This was just a week into my first days here. Eventually we found the subway, and now it was time to try to figure out how to get back that was interesting enough in itself. We did figure it out, and now its easy as pie.
Speaking of the subways, I honestly did not think you could cram that many people into one small location. Each day can be a different experience on the subway. Some days good, some are bad. Some days you get a seat! Ho-ray Some days your one hour commute could be with you bundled up because its 10 degrees outside, but inside the subway its 1,000 degrees, and you are pressed up against 500 other people, sweat dripping down your back, and the claustrophobia is starting to kick in.. but you have to hold it together, only 10 more stops and you are there, only 50 more minutes! Good Luck.
Here it is a new world. Public transportation is a HUGE part of their day-to-day life. Some/most people here do not even have their driver’s license and most likely will never actually own a car!
If you want to get around in your city/district area I recommend buying a bike then. It can at most times be quicker than the bus, and if you aren’t traveling too far it cuts the time. Subway obviously is for longer distances, and very convenient that way.
So I’ve “invested” in my first bike over here. Nothing special and it cost me about $60 USD or 300 RMB. It’s an awful bike compared to the luxury I have at home, but again, this is all about the experience and honestly I am very lucky to have a newer bike. Most people who I see biking, their frames are rusted out, and their wheels are wobbling back and forth. Every time I see that I think “how lucky am I to have been able to buy a newer bike that allows me to travel faster around the city”. So I have my “new” ONE speed bike, ready to take off into the sunset … I mean *cough* smog-set of Daxing.
I miss my car. I miss her terribly. It was a luxury that when I get back to the states I know I will not take for granted But being here without my car and with this bike really puts things into perspective on what it’s like to live in a public transportation, large population driven world.
Also, I’ve saved some money on gas. 2 RMB subway ride= $.32 USD not bad if you ask me.