Tuesday, April 15, 2014

China bridges the gap

China has more of the world’s biggest and longest suspension bridges than any other country in the world, with five of its bridges among the world’s top 10, according to a recent C NN article.

One of its bridges, the Aizhai Bridge, ranks as the highest suspension bridges in the world, at 1,150 feet high, yet is only 15th among the longest suspension bridges. Located on the Jishou-Chadong Expressway, it bridges the Dehong Canyon.

The article also lists the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, as the longest rail bridge in the world at 102.4 miles. It connects Shanghai with Nanjing. This elevated was named the world’s longest bridge by Guinness World Records when it opened in 2011.

The Fairy Bridge in Guangxi Province is the world’s longest natural bridge, though only 400 feet long. Mother Nature made this bridge out of rock archways. The article notes China is home to three of the world’s longest natural bridges, including another 400-foot span that crosses a river near the border with Vietnam.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Viva Las Vegas? Not if you're driving!

Chinese drivers are famous for not being the safest drivers. Because there are so many cars with drivers who are still getting driving experience, I’ve had some pretty wild taxi rides over the years when I lived in Beijing and on return visits to China.  I never thought I’d say this, but I finally found other drivers who make Beijing drivers look pretty darned safe. Those drivers are located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Most people, when they visit Sin City, fear losing their money. I feared losing my life. On a recent visit to Las Vegas, it seemed like we had the potential to be in an accident every five minutes because of these drivers. I lost count of how many ambulances I saw or heard. Personal injury attorneys must be doing a land office business there.

Speed limits don’t mean diddly. Drivers disregarded the 35 mph signs on city streets and raced between stop lights at speeds approaching 60 mph, then slammed on their brakes when they hit a red light. Jon says they tailgated something fierce, and he thought we were going to be rear-ended several times. Drivers made multi-lane changes without warning. They also would drift into our lane, nearly sideswiping us. A couple of times the cars were so close, if my window were open I could have reached out and shook hands with the driver.  Motorcyclists created their own lanes, driving between two lanes of cars.

Early on, I permanently attached my hand to the “oh shit” handle, and held on so tightly my arm began to hurt. I could feel my blood pressure going off the charts. I started shaking and couldn’t stop, even after we returned to our hotel. Quick, where’s my Valium!

Highway 95, the route we traveled that stretches between Canada and Mexico, is posted at 75 mph in Nevada. Going up, Jon was driving the speed limit when suddenly we were passed by a yellow blur that must have been doing well over 100 mph. Coming back, two semis passed us while we were traveling the speed limit. At one point, we were on a state highway, one lane in each direction, which was posted at 70 mph and were still getting passed.

What I got out of this trip is that I will never, ever again think Beijing traffic is unsafe.