Monday, January 26, 2009

A storm without wind or water…

It dawned on me recently, I believe because I've been away for four months, and have fresh eyes upon returning, that the best way to describe driving in Taiwan to an American, is this: It is like constantly driving at or around a stadium event.

The feeling is always like people are constantly looking for a parking place, everyone oozes with that itch to just get out of the parking lot or into the stadium, people keep talking on cell phones trying to meet up with friends, there are too many cars for too little space, vendors stud the terrain like tailgating trucks and RVs, and pedestrians are always milling about with much attention to anything but the event awaiting them.

You can navigate it with some peace only if you take it slow, settle for a spot farther away (or at least a feeling very much like that), and keep your eyes open for any erratic moves. Traffic is almost always about as busy as the start or end of the event, but rush hour might be described as a Super Bowl frenzy, or a Skynyrd-Stones combined concert in the 70s, with a little Amish thrown in for that down home look and feel. Once night falls, things become as vacant and hushed as a commercial parking lot.

Now that I can see this, I have gained a noticeable increase in peace on the road, something with which I have struggled my entire five years in Taiwan. As the Dao of G.I. Joe teaches us, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!"


kwang said...

have you tried driving or motorbiking in Taipei? it's gonna open both your eyes and mind.

i don't know if it's just me, but i can't read the labels for this blog entry (unless i highlight them) because their font color is merged into the background color.

the Cogitator said...

I have been on a couple scooters and in a car or two in Taipei, but I've never really driven there. I know it's very different from Taichung. Don't get me wrong: the driving is crazy but I like it. Not too many rules and everyone flows together in a strange 無為的樣子。