Some call it Culture Shock. Leader Larry, and English speaking guides Wen Chun and Yang Yang explain what they can to 22 people who are rarely facing the same way or can’t always hear.
It is another novelty to have a westerner speaking fluent Chinese. We are functionally illiterate and unable to communicate anything at all, thus we depend mightily on our guides.
Before we ventured out on our city tour in Kunming, Larry sketched road rules.
People and goods are on the move here in numbers we can barely fathom. City roads are wide with motor cycle lanes carrying mandatory electric scooters suddenly appearing beside, in front of and on either left or right, carrying cargo, families, without helmets, talking on cellphones. Pedestrians often prefer this lane too, as well as hand carts and the street sweepers clearing leaves and debris using hand tied palm branch brooms. Add to this mélange that vehicles turning right into the Main Street consider they have the right of way, so do not pause or check left. Volume and this seeming chaos dictates caution and traffic moves carefully. So it somehow works. Western Cyclists become wary and aware during our orientation to the roads here.
Roads and highways are awesomely wide and landscaped, traffic lights occasional, light posts are artistic, sidewalks are twenty feet wide. Both are lined by tall trees and mass plantings of colourful bushes.
Oh, and parking is taken wherever one can find it, on either side.
It is baffling and appreciated to find order in seeming chaos… Drivers have been considerate as we weave through the streets in our long line, drawing attention, smiles, thumbs up, and smartphone videos.