Saturday, November 7, 2009

Taking the bus. Or not.

I may not have told you all about my public bus phobia.  I think it's related to the fact that I am utterly off the charts multiply-handicapped when it comes to telling directions, so I am always in a bit of a panic wondering if the bus is really going to go to where I need to go.  And will the bus stop to let me off where I need to stop? 

Also, my Cantonese is still, quite honestly, pitiful.
And my comprehension of written Chinese is somewhere around a Chinese one year old child's.

Add to this the fact that the Hong Kong mini-buses have been in the news recently because of too many fatal accidents (driver speeding). 

To top it all off, I had to get to Eric's school for an evening meeting, so now my regular (not normal, but regular) fears were compounded by my night blindness.  Did I tell you I have a bit of night-blindness?

The first part of the trip to Eric's school is by metro train, and those are great.  The signs are in English, there are these lovely color-coded route diagrams which I can study at my leisure. So after ten months of living in Hong Kong I can negotiate the three exchanges and 14 stops of the first part of the trip. Piece of cake.

But the metro line stops well short of the school.  Then I am faced with the dilemma.  Mini-bus or taxi?  Mini bus is only 8 Hong Kong dollars (about an American buck), taxi is $48 Hong Kong dollars (not bad, but still. We have two boys in college and a third who who hope will be heading there soon). I should be saving my dollars.

Since I am running a little late, however (what's new?) I opt for a taxi, telling myself I will take the mini-bus home. 

After the meeting, I go out into the dark city night, my heart pounding only a bit as I head straight for that bus stop.  Suddenly a taxi with a lit "for hire" sign appears among the oncoming traffic, and I nearly get run over as I hail the driver and scramble across the street to, gratefully, climb in.

Only as we are on our way do I begin to notice the taxi driver is mumbling to himself, seems to be weaving slightly on the sharp mountainous road of this edge of Hong Kong island, and is definitely driving too fast for conditions.  I try to remember, where is the safest place in a car to sit, is it just behind the driver or on the opposite seat in the back?

Next time I really will take that $8 minibus.

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