The Tao of Driving

Posted by
David Poulter

According to the guidebook, traffic flow in Taiwan was the opposite to the UK, on the right-hand side of the road instead of the left, pretty straightforward I thought everything a reversed image, including junctions, roundabouts, intersections, and the so-called freeway. But nothing prepared me for the nightmare I was about to experience, looking back though; I think it may have been a provincial thing. I have spent the majority of my time in Southern Taiwan, I prefer the climate and the relaxed lifestyle, and people don’t seem to be in quite such a hurry as they do in the north, which is a definite relief when it comes to the driving, as there are lots of surprises.

Ok beat this: four adults and two dogs on one scooter. I thought I was watching a troupe warm up for a circus act, or an attempt for the Guinness book of records, all without crash helmets as well. But this sort of sight is common, delivery men on their old motorbikes piled high with bottled gas, cutting across intersections, basically taking the shortest route to make a left-hand turn. Golf-caddy type buggies traveling at walking speed, with a guy that can’t read a newspaper any more, let alone see where he’s going, various people on assorted mopeds and bikes driving on the wrong side of the road, housewives driving scooters carrying infants on cane chairs, children on bicycles with no lights, who always seem to pass through traffic lights unhesitant, no matter what color is displayed.

[dcs_one_half_last parameters][dcs_blockquote parameters] “the whole population of southern Taiwan just uses traffic lights as a reference,” [/dcs_blockquote] [/dcs_one_half_last]

Actually I think the whole population of southern Taiwan just uses traffic lights as a reference. I surveyed a traffic scene one afternoon from the safety of a park bench, and I considered how much a Western or UK driver I was. As a product of my environment, my signals and maneuvers were precise like the language I uttered, clipped and accurate.

Traffic in the UK proceeded with regular movement, similar to that of a huge machine, each vehicle like a component part, slotting into its appropriate place. Take any of these drivers I mused, and transplant them in the West and they would soon have an accident.

[dcs_blockquote pos=”right” mright] “everything was moving smoothly like an ant colony.” [/dcs_blockquote]

But as I watched the steady flow of the traffic, I relaxed into a meditative state and my mind took in the whole scene from another angle, everything was moving smoothly like an ant colony. With regulations mostly abandoned, there was still a sense of unity, no anarchy here, an organized chaos functioned instead, oiled by a kindred politeness that is lacking in the UK now, which makes this country special.

David Poulter is from the U.K. Check out his novel: The Idiot

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