Jack, as chauffeur, is nonpareil. He is a sedate and careful driver, but those that surround him are not. If you’re a westerner, the best way to experience driving in China is to take sedatives and close your eyes. In fact, if you have them, use earplugs.
Rather than the steering wheel, the brake, and the accelerator being the major controls used by the driver, it is the horn that is the major driving control utilized. Simply put, the Chinese driving style is one of participation in vehicular chicken. (Actually, the more I think about it, it’s like the old carnival bumper boats ride. Except the vehicles rarely bump – they just float toward each other and veer off at the last moment. I’ll go into more detail in a future post. It’s a stately dance.)
Luckily (I guess), because I’ve been here before, I’m pretty much desensitized to the driving style. I also note that Jack was a Satchel Paige fan. Why do I think that? Because he rarely uses the rear view mirror.
Takes about 45 minutes to get from the airport, and we make it without incident (which means only 7 or so near-incidents) to the school. On the way, we travel by the huge sports complex that was once a major feature of the landscape in 2008. No longer – the landscape has changed. Where there were open spaces, there are high-rise buildings dotting that landscape. Lots of ’em! Mostly apartments, but some high-rise office buildings. In 2008, I had to go downtown (about 5 miles) to visit bank that could recognize an USA credit/debit card. Now, it seems, there’s one every 500 meters. We’ll tour the neighborhood later.
From the exterior, Qingquan School has changed little in three years. The gatekeeper is new, but Jack bustles in without any challenge and we make our way to my dormitory. Damn! It hasn’t changed either. Jack orders me to “rest”, and I’ll meet my class coordinator tomorrow.
Yantai University still stands to the east of the school. It usually has about 25,000 students enrolled. According to their catalog, the university has 21 faculties and provides 49 programs covering arts, law, science, education, management, medicine, music, engineering, continuing education, international culture. It was, as I recall, established in 1984 (when the smoke had cleared) by private bequest.
I’m going to take Jack’s advice and chill until tomorrow.