Friday, September 17, 2010

Is This A Bus Ride or the Macau Grand Prix???

Hey all,

Now I'm the first one to admit up until moving to Singapore, I hadn't taken a bus more than a handful of times in my life. Living where I did in the country did not lend itself to bus travel, and in Orlando the bus stop was just too far away even if I had wanted to take it. So, using public transportation is pretty new to me.

In Singapore the bus and MRT systems are tied together. You get a card, put X amount of money on it, and you're ready to go. You just swipe the card each time you get on and off and they deduct the amount as needed. Very quick and handy system.

The buses are well kept as are the MRTs and it's only at rush hour that you run into the common "sardines in a skinny can" problem.

It's a little different here in Macau.

After being in Singapore we were more educated in using buses (Macau has no subway system) but it's a bit of a challenge in Macau since everything here is either in Chinese or Portuguese. The maps are a little difficult to figure out, but one day I just decided to get on the damn bus and make myself understand where I'm going and where in the HE double toothpicks I've been.

So therein lies the adventure.

First off, since everything is in another language you can't just look at the stops and know where to get off. You either have to ask, which is an iffy procedure in itself, or just, as I usually do, wing it, get close and hope for the best. If I blow it, I just chalk it up to experience, jot it down on my map and try again.

But that's not so bad. You give yourself time to make some mistakes and head on out. And Macau isn't that big. You can't get lost. (well you can, but that's another blog story. just ignore me.) If you get off at the wrong place, you get on another bus and eventually you WILL get where you are going.

Now on the bus is where it really gets interesting. It's always crowded. There aren't enough buses to go around so not only is there not enough seating, standing room only is just a hope, especially at rush hour. And I swear to you, every bus driver we've driven with acts like he's a Grand Prix driver. Seriously, you barely get on the bus and he takes off sending everyone flying. No one bothers to apologize anymore. You KNOW you're going to fall on someone.

Lucky are those that have seats. At least they are balanced. But if you are standing, which you most often are, you have to hang on for dear life. The starts and stops are so jarring, you don't dare do anything with your hands. They are absolutely needed to hold on with.

Jonathon and I use to wonder why a lot of Chinese have bruises on their legs. Now we know. You can't ride a bus in Macau without putting in for some type of accident insurance. LOL

So between the screeching brakes, bruises and no place to sit, you'd think a taxi is better to take, and it is. But it isn't as much an adventure and since the bus system is so inexpensive (and I'm cheap) I take it anyway. Part of the fun is not know what the ride will be like.

Will I get a seat? Will I get to keep it or should I give it up to that man who looks older than dirt? Was that my stop or should I keep going? When did that guy last bathe? What is that outside? Oh, cool!!!! I'm going to get off at the next stop and explore.

The things you can discover by riding the bus far outweigh the irritation of not knowing the language, getting a seat or getting lost.

Now, if I could only find a driver who kept it at a manageable speed!!!!

Hugs to all and I'll see you on Monday! Have a great weekend!!!!

CJ England


Ray said...

Great post. It kind of reminds me of taking the train from Yokosuka to Kamakura (home of the giant Buddha)in 1967. At that time not every Japanese spoke English and there were no Latin lettered signs. I just stood on the platform until someone saw that I looked lost. I did it on the return trip as well. I never rode a scary bus, but in Yokohama, the first time I was ever in a city where cars drove on the left I took a Kamikaze taxi that looked like the driver was playing chicken with a street car. At the last moment he would veer to the left of the behemoth.

I did do the bus ride in Mexico with chickens in cages on the roof.


CJ England said...

Thanks, Ray.

I look back and shake my head at some of the things we've done. And I know exactly what you mean about Kamikaze taxi drivers. Met a few of those here AND in Europe. LOL