It’s funny how many of my blog entries revolve around weather or transportation but ‘sigh’ these are fundamental factors in my life. They are simultaneously havoc wreaking and joy inducing. This Monday morning we woke to our first real cold snap. Funny that this years cold snap (the latest in Dalian’s recorded history) happened mid-December where last years (the coldest winter in 60 years) happened mid-October. Our outside world of ‘shooooe yue jie’, as our street is pronounced, was what looked to be lightly dusted in snow. So I begrudgingly put on my long underwear, marshmallow down jacket and pom pomed wool toque. I hate having to waddle when I walk but the warmth is worth the discomfort. It normally takes us half an hour to catch a cab and get to work. Just guess how long it took us on our lightly dusted, should have been called a snow day? Seriously guess!
And the only reason we made it in the end was because one of our late and down trodden school buses happened to see us standing like frozen Popsicles on the street corner. It’s hard to miss white people in Dalian, even when they’re bundled. Snow literally causes the city to shut down. There are no snow plows and no winter tires. There is a lot of screeching and sliding through intersections on patches of ice though. That is fun. Instead, Dalian relies on the fact that no matter how bad the weather, people will still bust their butts getting into work (there are no snow holidays here) and therefore eventually (after how many accidents I’m not sure) the heavy flow of traffic will melt away the snow on the road and life will resume as normal, or close to. We combined a variety of methods in our attempts to get to work on time. First we tried to hail taxis. But we are passed over in preference for Chinese passengers on a good day so this really was a lost cause. Next we tried the buses. Only two passed by in the two ours we stood outside and only one of them stopped. This at least made room for some entertainment as it was literally the most unsafe sardine can of a bus I have ever seen. People had their faces squashed against the window. We watched a man grind his fist into the hollow of an elderly woman’s back as he slowly but methodically pushed her deep enough into the sardine can so that he could balance both of his feet on the bottom step of the bus. This took several minutes. When the bus eventually pulled away, the saggy bottom of his pants and coat jacket hood were pinched between the front doors and flapping down the street. Dave even suggested waving a 100RMB out to traffic and seeing who picks up the incentive. But we apparently, were not that bent on getting to work so we continued to wait in the cold until our blue bus saviors stopped in the middle of the intersection and waved us on.
THREE HOURS! Come on now Dalian. I honestly believe that it snows enough in Northern China to warrant some snow plows.