I realize I seem to share a lot about transportation…maybe it’s due to the fact we have such a love-affair with our own transportation in the west. Let’s face it – we love our cars! In our city of Portland, there is a strong emphasis to change that – considering we have more and more bike lanes, our MAX train is growing throughout the city and subtle and not-so-subtle pressures exist to just not drive.
So, here we are in a foreign country that uses every possible way of transportation. But, getting used to these various modes has challenged our way of thinking. One really has to plan their time – we just can’t hop in our car and ‘go’! It takes time to walk to the right place to flag a taxi, or reach the bus stop. It takes time to get to our destination – so, we usually spend extended time wherever we are….and then…the trip home. ( Taking time – a topic for another blog. :))
We first learned the taxi system. Now, the taxi is certainly helpful when getting around certain areas of the city. But, as we quickly learned – they are not always dependable….especially during their shift change in mid-to-late afternoon. Where we would usually need to go by taxi is further south and through some harried traffic jams. We literally had taxi drivers laugh at us – and honestly – one took us to the bus stop and told us to go that way!!
At that point we were discouraged. Trying to get around town takes so much more effort than we’re used to. But, on the bus we went – the K616. This bus – we knew – went right to where we needed to go. As we settled into our seats (yes, we got seats!!)- grateful to at least be on board – we watched the scenery go by. Soon, we noticed we were going through the archway of the city wall that surrounds the old historic city center. Thinking that since we were on the bus, we were going a different route to our destination. Well, we were right – we WERE going a different route, but not exactly to our destination! We were heading the complete opposite direction.
After nearly 45 minutes we arrived at-the-end-of-the-line. EVERYONE got off! When we showed the bus driver where we needed to go – he smiled kindly and indicated we had to cross the busy road and go back the other direction. So…..we did. Our trip pretty much took us three hours all together – from trying to flag down a taxi – to going the scenic route (aka wrong way) on the bus. It was an adventure we could actually laugh about.
To round out our transportation experiences – we also learned the subway while in Hong Kong. It’s quite the system, and very easy to get it down. We admired the smooth system along with the cleanliness and care they take to keep it running well. Several stops hosted shops and places to eat. The modern “train” station in a way.
Just this week Ron decided to get a bus pass that’ll work for us for the duration of our stay. It’s not always the most convenient – as we often walk more than a 1/4 mile just to get to our stop – but, once on, I think we arrive more quickly than a taxi. Taxi’s aren’t expensive – and are all over the place. But, the bus is always schedule and you know you’ll get a ride most any time of the day.
And, just so you know that people do love to drive around here as well – notice the list of cars we’ve seen just in our area:
Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Ford, Chevrolet, Volvo (I’ve actually only seen one), JEEP, VW Jetta and other VW models, Toyota is another popular vehicle, Land Cruiser (a rather large vehicle around here), Honda, Kia, Mini, Smart Car, and several other models that are ‘foreign’ to us.
(As much as I wish I could show more photos, it’s a challenge to upload, so these will have to do :))