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HONG KONG, HongKong [HK]
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Driving in China

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We’ve all been in the back of taxi driving through the streets at 90km/h but has anyone actually dared to get into the drivers seat in China? I have and I have to tell you it’s not as bad as some make out.

Having lived here in China for close to three years I decided about six months ago to invest in a car. Getting around by taxi is expensive and taking the bus isn’t that convenient when during rush hour people are playing sardines in the bus! So a car it was going to be.

In most countries when you buy a car is to have a driving license or the dealership will refuse to let you take it away, here in China things are much different. You don’t need a driving license, you don’t even need to be with someone who has a driving license. But I decided to play it safe and get one myself.

When choosing to get a Chinese license there are two options available to you, the first one is you can pay around 6,000 - 7,000rmb and have an agency do all the paperwork for you and even have the test taken on your behalf, all you need to do is show up and sign you (Chinese) name.

The second and much cheaper option is to do it yourself. First you need to have your own country’s license and passport translated and notarized. Next you need to fill out an application and visit the hospital to have an eye test, this consists of nothing more than a color blindness test. When you have all your paperwork together you visit the police test station and hand over your paperwork and the fee, totally it comes to around 300rmb plus transport fees to get to the various places to do the paperwork.

Now, whilst the second option is cheaper I have to tell you that you must take the test yourself and you have two chances or you need to pay 80rmb for a retake.

The test consists of 100 questions from a database of 1,500 and is available in around 8 languages including English. You have 40 minutes to take the test.

I hear you thinking well that’s great having the test in English, but it’s not all rosy! The English is not quite English and is very Chinglish, the answers often don’t make sense and in some cases the correct answer being one that is completely against common sense. Many foreigners wonder if Chinese people have taken their test because of bad driving, I think they have passed their test but the questions are so stupid it makes people think it’s the correct way to drive!

So, once you have a license and are driving on the road you have a choice of how to drive, with them or against them! My favorite analogy is this;

“If you fall into a river you can fight the current, become tired and lose or you can relax, go with the flow and come out alive”

I put the same into practice when I drive, I am much more aware of what’s going on but I drive along with their style and after 6 months I am completely scratch free.

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