Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Taiwan Traffic: A Graze with Death
Well, it very well could have been. I could have been. Dead. Too close for my liking. Way too close.
It went down something like this.
I was heading off to an 8pm Yoga class at Our Yoga House, which is very conveniently located at the end of my street, past the Husia intersection. I usually wear my black zip-up jacket to Yoga, but since it was raining, and getting dark, I decided to wear my white rain jacket. I distinctly thought it would make me safer against – scooters riding on sidewalks, cars running reds, the usual Taiwanese traffic terrors.
I waited for the light to turn green, and then cautiously crossed the road, making sure not to skid on the slippery white paint on the crossing. I was halfway across when I froze. Well, I didn’t really freeze. I don’t remember. From the corner of my eyes, on my right I saw a gold coloured 4WD coming towards me. I instinctively swung my upper body to my right, grazed my right hand on the grill and thumped my palms on the hood of the car.
I can’t remember what went through my mind. I remember looking at the middle aged male driver, anger screaming through my eyes, terror on my face, head shaking slowly from side to side at the imbecile behind the wheel.
He looked fearful. Perhaps because he was almost a murderer, sentenced to a life of guilt and prison, or perhaps because he thought in rage I might damage his expensive car, or perhaps he wasn’t paying attention and this was a close call. Perhaps he ‘lost face’ – a term thrown around here in Taiwan too much for my liking.
I regained my composure, although I felt like I hadn’t lost it too much. I slowly walked to the end of the crossing, left hip a little jarred from the quick turn, right knuckles slightly scratched from the connection to the grill, head spinning, breath unlikely slow and deep.
People stared at me as I turned around, got my little notebook out of my bag and wrote down the license plate of the almost death -car. ZL-3616. I really didn’t need to write it down as I kept repeating to myself to the short walk to the Yoga House.
Taiwan traffic is dangerous. A well-known hierarchy exists here. Trucks and buses rule supreme. They are the bullies of the road, followed by large, medium and small cars, then scooters, bicycles and finally the lowly pedestrian. Just because the green man says ‘go’ and there are no cars in sight, does not mean you are safe.