Sunday, September 21, 2008


China does not have a good record on the roads. There are many accidents but as we do not travel a great deal on the roads we seldom see an accident. However, this one was on the road between Hangzhou and Wuzhen.
The traffic travelling in the same direction as us was flowing smoothly until we came across this accident, which must have happened some minutes before we reached the spot. Luckily it appeared that no one was hurt, but the truck had swiped the guard rail for quite some distance, before it stopped, spilling its load of cardboard and paper across the road.
On the opposite side of the road was a huge backlog of traffic - a traffic jam that went on for miles. Trucks of all shapes and sizes, busloads of tourists and travellers, as well as private cars were stuck in the chaos. Many were out of their vehicles and on their cell phones trying to see what was going on I guess.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Modern Truck?

There are quite a few of these "modern" trucks around these parts. I love them. I must get a photo of me "driving" one - one day. You can hear them coming. They have a very loud engine, and the PUT, PUT, slowly along. These are the "workhorses" and usually carry heavy loads like bricks, cements, stone etc.
They are probably almost ancient relics, and rust has eaten away much of them, but they still put in a solid work day, as they PUT, PUT around the place. You will see them anywhere - especially building sites.

The water man

In China one does not drink tap water. It is just not "potable." Not safe to drink. Everyone drinks bottled water - not just the handy sizes from the supermarket, but most homes have a water heater/cooler machine. This is for drinking water.

The big heavy bottles are delivered on a tricycle, just like this one, and the waterman will carry (for a small fee) the water to your front door. At the college, we dial a phone number, say our room number - and shortly afterwards a man arrives with some full bottles on the tray of his tricycle.
At the college we do not have elevators - so these elderly gentlemen carry the heavy bottle upstairs to the apartment whose dweller has ordered the water, and he will leave it by the door, and carry down the empty bottle to take back to the "Water room." We sticky tape a 1 yuan coin to the top of the empty bottle, which the man keeps for himself.
The heavy bottles are then lifted by the dweller onto a "water machine" which will pierce the bottle and allow the contents to flow into the well of the machine. A hot and cold tap fronts the machine.
Many households collect water from a machine at the gate of their village, or grounds of their apartment. User pays. Ofcourse.
We do feel sorry for the elderly gents who struggle upstairs with these heavy bottles.

The cardboard box man

This loaded tricycle was in the college grounds. It is a new semester and many things (e.g. books, bedding etc) have come into the college in cardboard boxes.

I couldn't help myself - just had to take a picture of it. And I heard giggles from behind me when I stopped to take the photo. Three new students were following me along the pathway and thought it odd that I would stop and take such a photo.

"Where are you from?" they asked in good English. I pretended to hop like a kangaroo - and let's face it, it is not easy to do, but they shrieked with laughter and shouted "Australia." We all laughed and went on with our respective journeys.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bike Passenger

Yesterday when walking in the college grounds we came across two guards and a worker helping put a lady's bike onto the old tricycle. Maybe it ran out of puff - in any case, it was loaded on to the cart of the tricyle and taken somewhere.

When I took the first photo, the men looked up and laughed. So I took another photo. It has been very busy on campus as the first year students arrive over a few days and there is organised chaos with new students, parents, grandparents, and vehicles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The crazy taxi man

On Saturday after we had dined on Peking Duck (well, we called it Duck Skin as there was little meat for an expensive dish!), we walked to the end of Nanjing Road to find a taxi back to my friend's home.

We would wave a taxi, but it would either not stop, or pick up some locals. Eventually one actually refused a local and chose to take us to our destination. I wonder why he did that? Wait and you will understand.

We gave him the address in Chinese characters, he nodded and set off. Along the route we noticed that he had 40 RMB on the meter. He had either not changed it from the previous passenger or set it because he was going to make some money out of foreigners.

In any case, we pointed it out to him. His English was not good - or it was and he played ignorant - but he refused to change it. Eventually it was clear that he was going to try and make extra money from us. Now my friend knew the cost of a taxi from the city to her place - she'd done it more than once before, so she knew it was far less than 40 RMB.

We argued with him, and let him know that we had recorded his taxi driver number (which we had). Without saying anything he turned the taxi around and took us right back to where he had picked us up. As it turns out, just before he turned into the particular street, he was stopped behind a bus, so we got out quickly. We obviously did not pay him.

We caught another taxi back eventually - after a short wait - and paid the right amount of money.

We thought he was a crazy taxi man. The photo on his ID card did not match the face of the man, so it will be interesting to see what happens when we do report him. At least we know that he tried to take on three ladies in Shanghai and at this point we can claim victory over him.


So much is delivered around China on tricycles - with the most extra ordinary loads. (Much fodder for this blog, I can tell you.) This deleivery was to a shed somewhere in Shanghai. I have no idea what is in the boxes, but they would be from a factory somewhere in Shanghai. Maybe storing for someone with a business selling these items.
It is amazing in heavy traffic with the amazing number and variety of trucks, cars etc, that these hard working men pedal their way through the myriad of vehicles in not too orderly fashion on the streets of China.
But, it is the way it is done. Of course their are trucks, but these seem to take much larger loads and on longer distances. It must be an effician way to deliver such items. In China.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The rubbish cart

This poor delapidated rubbish cart is in the grounds of the apartment block of my friend in Shanghai. Another friend from Shaoxing went to stay with her and on our first morning she had rubbish to deposit in this cart, which is taken away for recycling and disposal.
It was such a quaint and old piece of equipment, it just begged me to get my camera out and take a photo, much to the amusement of another Chinese gentleman passing who burst out laughing as he waved the French breadstick that he had apparently just purchased.
A good laugh all around, I think.

As the wheels on the train go round and round

The railway staff promote products for sale, during the train trip from Shaoxing to Shanghai. As the train rolls on it's 2 - 3 hour journey, the railway staff come through the train offering drinks, noodles, and fruit. Then they do slick presentation promoting a rang of products. One of the products is a torch (no batteries - is powered by hand - almost winding it up, so that it provides the power to turn on the LED light. They torch was great. I bought one.
There were toys and toothbrushes also on display - and many people purchases on the trip TO Shanghai, but the same demonstration on the return journey, two days later did not produce any sales.
It does break the journey - adds a little humour to the trip!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Waiting for work

At this corner near a canal is always a collection of bicycles, and tricycles, and under the awning of the nearby shop the men wait. I understand they are waiting for work. In the mornings there is a lot of activity as they get work (presumably by mobile phone) or service their regular customers, but as the day goes on, there is more inactivity.

Some of the workers use bamboo on which they string two bamboo baskets and these are used to carry smaller items (eg. fruit and vegetables), through the traffic.

Other tricycles have larger trays with room to take larger items to their destination.

By mid afternoon work has really slowed down, so it is possible you will see groups of men playing card games to while away the time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Carboard carrier

Recycling is done very differently in China. Much of the sorting is done on the side of the road. This man obviously collects cardboard. He would have businesses that he would call on to collect their discarded cardboard, and he would take it to a place where it might be sorted for recycling.

The tricycles are laden high with the spoils of the day's collecting activity. This man was struggling riding his tricycle up a slight incline over one of the bridges in the city. About the middle of the bridge he would have climbed into the saddly for the down hill run on the other side of the bridge.

Fruit Vendors - apples and oranges

At this time of year oranges and apples are plentiful, so this hawker was displaying his wares on an old cart - handmade no doubt - in the city.

One thing that we found interesting is the variety of "oranges" seen here in the cart. I'm yet to determine if they are picked early or it is "just" the variety - but their skins are still green with a hint of orange colour.

I have eaten some that would not make the table in Australia because of their lack of orange colour which would indicate ripeness, and they tasted sweet and fresh. I just assume it is a different type of orange.

New plants arrive

The gardens in China are spectacular. The way flowering annuals are displayed is wonderful. In the city the spent annual plants are quickly dispensed with, and new plants arrive. Another species of annual, fresh and healthy arrives on this little truck and the workers carefully carry the trays of plants to the area to be planted.

Within hours a new garden is created, and in a few short weeks the flowers are blooming.

As well, in certain areas blooming annuals are displayed - still in little plastic pots - they are often about to bloom when placed around other features. They are quickly in full bloom making the gardens of China a spectacular feature of the country.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spud Cart

Many of the food vendors are on tricycles like this. This man has a 44 gallon drum with a fire within it and he is cooking sweet potatoes right in the city of Shaoxing. Imagine riding around with this huge fire just behind you. They are a delicacy and the workers as they finish for the day, will purchase one of these hot tasty cooked vegetable to eat at home or on the way home.

One day I must try it. Supposed to be very tasty.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bikes, and more bikes.

The people of China are great bike riders. Bicycles, e-bikes, motor bikes. Wheels of all kins really. One of the challenges of living and working in a city like Shaoxing is dodging the many vehicles. It is often like a giant game of "Dodge'em" played out on the roads.

On mainland China cars are driven on the right hand side of the road. Around here there are usually four lanes - two in one direction and two in the other direction divided by a double yellow line. One gets the impression that cars are not meant to traverse this yellow double line, similar to the double white line we have in Australia. But things are not quite that easy here. Cars (especially taxi's) seem to go in all directions, on whatever side of the road they wish.

Bicycles are much the same. It is rather hair raising.

As well, there are little provision for "parking" - there certainly are car parks, but I think few and far between, so cars do seem to stop in the most unusual places.

Bicycle parking? Anywhere and everywhere. The bikes are parked in front of shopping complexes (rows of them - row upon row upon row) just like here in front of the Trust Mart in Shaoxing.

Late in the afternoon and early evening it is rather chaos as the bike riders set off. It is no wonder I procrastinated about buying one for myself.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scooters, bikes.................

These photos do not really do justice to the huge number of vehicles that ply their way through the streets of Shaoxing, park all over the footpath, tangle with pedestrians on pedestrian crossings, wend their way in and out of cars and busses in the city streets.
There is no road range either. They seem to accept that this is what happens and there is a bizarre "game" of dodgem played out every second on the roadways around here.

Carts and more carts

These guys are amazing. This photo shows some sitting at a street corner with their three wheeled vehicles. If someone needs transport for a large or heavy items - these are the guys that will happily do it. For a fee of course. This is their living - their income.
They wait in strategic places for a call to go and collect and deliver. There are amazing loads put on these carts.
One I saw was carrying office equipment - desks and chairs, and a man was sitting on one of the chairs as the driver hurtled through the traffic.

Catching a train

Catching a train between cities is an experience! I prefer train because I think my blood pressure rises too much on a bus, as the driver speeds in an out of traffic. Speed limited? Sure, one hears the beeper going all the time when the driver exceeds the speed.

But train travel is a little daunting.

There are huge waiting halls, where everyone waits for the train. The halls are full of noise, people, baggage, food, public announcements (in Chinese!). When you buy your ticket, you know the departure time, the gate number, your carriage number and your seat number. Pretty easy to understand on your paper ticket - even if English is your only language. (At least that has been our experience!)

There will be an announcement that your train is boarding. Everyone queues up to go through the gate where your ticket is checked. Then you walk to the platform and line up at the number of your carriage.

When the train pulls in and other passengers have disembarked, you can board and hope to find that your seat is empty waiting for you. Not always so, but the Chinese people will make sure that you have a seat. Not necessarily the one you paid for.

The trains always travel through very interesting scenery - much more relaxing than the traffic on the roadways.


Children are seen everywhere - but few prams. Mostly the prams appear in tourist places - for so many people travel on bicycles, scooters or similar and there is little space for a pram.

This little cutie probably rested her weary legs from time to time in the pram, and at this point in her travels around a park in Ningbo, was fascinated by the balloon dog. It one "patted" it, it seemed to jump up. She was in awe of it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sleeping on the job

Around the middle of the day, a lot of folk get tired here. It is surprising to us "foreigners" to see couches/beds or similar in the small shops and the shopkeeper sound asleep. Folk seem to fall asleep anywhere. (How I envy their ability to sleep on a plane - something that I never manage to do, but the Chinese people seem to be sound asleep before the plane takes off!)

I would think if this man parked his three wheeler on a pedestrian crossing in Australia, he'd be told to move on at least by the local constabulary, but here it is not an uncommon sight.

This photo was taken just one street away from main street in Shaoxing, and traffic and pedestrians continued regardless.

Wheels in China

China is a country on the move! With 1.3 billion people in this amazing country all sorts of modes of transport can be seen. Many of these items are hand made. So all sorts of weird and wonderful machinery on wheels can be seen.

As well, the loads that are put on these trucks, bikes, cars, carts are astounding. Workplace health and safety rules? I don't know. Road rules? Confusing.

In any case it makes for an interesting study.

This wheelbarrow appeared near the foreign teachers apartment block. Looks like something that one of the maintenance men was using. I've seen them mix cement in these type of carts. The wheels are bicycle wheels - not matching of course, but all up a very functional piece of equipment.