We had a very interesting trip home this afternoon. When we first arrived, and, until the rain stopped, we were captive to the school bus, driven by Mr. Chen, in the afternoons. In our first month at Castle Hill, Mr. Chen drove us to the plant market. We filled the small bus with plants, and he proceeded to drive back home, very, very slowly. Helen remarked on how careful and thoughtful he was about the plants. We soon realised that is how he always drives.

So, whenever possible, after school, we go out onto the main road to hail a taxi home, so that it is a 10-minute trip, on the expressway, like we do each morning, not 35+ minutes, via another housing estate, at snail’s pace with Mr. Chen. Taxis have been sparse this week. so we gave up and got into a tuk tuk, which crossed the road between two trucks and a car, then avoided the on-coming traffic (just) to head 600m south, to where taxis are more plentiful.

Three hundred metres down the road, the tuk tuk driver nearly put Helen, me and our friend, Helmi, through the front “windscreen” as he slammed on the brakes and did a u-turn to head back from whence we came – there were police by the side of the road, and, presumably, our man didn’t have the correct paperwork.

We then took the same route that Mr. Chen normally takes, but much more quickly. Our hearts were racing as we lurched, bone-jarringly, from side to side and leap-frogged potholes. We got to the T-intersection with a main road and stopped 100m short because two vehicles had collided. In  China, this results in them staying exactly where they are, regardless of the ensuing chaos, until the constabulary arrives and switfly acts as judge and jury. We jumped out, gratefully, then tried to hail a taxi.

The girls got one, and we had to wade through a 2m stream of water pouring along the side of the road (for no apparent reason) and then used the expressway to complete our journey. The 7.5km trip took us only 20 minutes, despite going out of our way and using two vehicles. We were home 45 minutes before Mr. Chen would have dropped us off, but we probably won’t do it that way again. The good news is that the expressway exit is usable again, so we shoukd be back to 10 minutes each way for our last two weeks.


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