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How to survive on a public bus in China

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A few weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled Traveling by Bus in China. Some of you may noticed a glaring omission in the article, which mainly focused on long distance bus travel. I did not include information about traveling locally by public bus in China. Why not? Mainly, because I think that this aspect of traveling in China deserves an article of its own.

几个星期前,我写了个标题是《在中国乘公交车旅行》的文章。一些人可能注意到文章中有个明显的遗漏,那个文章重点是在长途公交车旅行上的。我并没有写到在中国坐当地公共汽车的信息。为什么不?主要是因为我觉得这个话题值得另开一篇。

 

Public buses in China can be fun and exciting but they can also be miserable and dangerous. Last week, while I was traveling from one campus of my university to another, the bus that I was on came to a screeching and rather terrifying halt when a taxi pulled out in front of it. I was in a standing position but as usual, I was hanging on for dear life so I managed to stay on my feet. Half-a-dozen other people, however, were not so lucky as they went flying towards the front of the bus and landed on the floor. No one was hurt but people were screaming profanities at the driver who looked as if he could care less.

中国的公共汽车可以很有趣很刺激,但是它们也是痛苦和危险的。上星期,当我从我大学的一个校区坐车去另一个校区的时候,我坐的那辆公共汽车来了一个尖锐可怕的急刹车,当时有一辆出租车就在它前面。我当时是站着的,但是像平常那样,惜命的我紧紧抓着扶手,所以我站住了。然而其它六个人就没这么幸运了,他们向车头飞去,然后摔倒了。没有人受伤,但是人们都在尖声咒骂着一脸满不在乎的司机。

The key to enjoying a safe ride on a public bus in China is never letting go of the yellow bar or a swinging handle and knowing where your belongings are at all times. Depending on what city you are traveling in, you could very well find yourself packed into a bus like a ‘can of sardines’ with many dozens of people who are constantly getting on and off the bus. If you have to travel on a crowded bus, it is important to move towards the back or find a place on the sides so that you are not always being pushed down the center as new passengers enter. Again, as you move around, it is important to always have a grip on a bar, handle, or seat because you never know when the bus may come to a sudden stop.

在中国的公共汽车上享受安全行程的关键就是永远不要离开黄栏杆或者挂柄,并时刻注意你的随身物品在哪里。根据你所去的城市,你可能会发现自己被装在像“沙丁鱼罐头”那样的公交车上,几十个人不停上上下下。如果你不得不搭乘一辆拥挤的车,很重要的是要向后方移动,或者在边上找个地方,这样新乘客上来的时候你就不会一直被推来推去。

 

If you happen to see a person vacate their seat in front of you, do not wait for someone else to ‘gobble’ it up. Unless you are competing with a pregnant woman or an elderly person, feel free to sit right down and give your tired legs a rest. Where I live, having a seat on a bus is a luxury and I am very thankful everytime I have the chance to sit down and be out of the way of the constant stream of people coming and going. Always be on your guard though. Public buses in China are magnets for thieves so keep your bag close to your body and your wallet in a place that cannot be easily accessed by probing hands. Wearing a backpack on your back in a bus is asking for trouble. Amidst the noise and confusion, it is easy for someone to unzip your pockets or slash your bag with a knife and quickly remove contents.

如果你碰巧看到一个人在你前面腾出了座位,不要等别人把它“吞”下去。除非你在和一个孕妇或老人抢座位,不然的话就自由地稳稳坐下,让你的腿休息一会儿。在我住的地方,车上的座位是个奢侈品,我每次有机会坐下的时候都感恩不已,能从人潮来去的急流中全身而退。但是要拥有处于防御状态。中国的公共汽车强烈吸引着小偷们,所以让你的包紧贴你的身体,把你的钱包放在伸手不容易够到的地方。在公共车上背背包是自寻烦恼。在一片嘈杂混乱中,别人很容易就能拉开你的口袋、或者用刀划开你的包,然后快速拿走里面的东西。

When it is almost time for you to exit the bus, you should start moving towards the back door, especially if the bus is crowded. If the bus doors start to close or the driver steps on the gas before you have a chance to place a foot on the ground, feel free to yell “Xia Che! Xia Che!” which means “Getting off the bus! Getting off the bus!” Do not be bashful. Yell with a loud voice. You do not want to get hurt or miss your bus stop.

当你快要下车的时候,你应该开始向后门移动,特别是当车上很拥挤的时候。如果在你的脚还没踏上地面以前,车门就已经开始关闭、或者司机已经踩下油门了,请随时大喊“下车!下车!”(译注:此处为汉语拼音),意思是“下车!下车!”别害羞。大声喊。你不会想受伤或者坐过站的。

 

Even though a taxi may be more comfortable to travel in, a public bus is definitely preferable. For one thing, a bus fare is much cheaper than a taxi fare. It only costs 2 RMB to go from the south part of my town to the north. The same trip by taxi would cost around 40 RMB. Buses are also relatively safer than taxis, because they cannot move as fast and provide more protection should you be involved in an accident. Bus drivers in China are perhaps just as crazy as taxi drivers but their vehicles carry too much weight to perform the same dangerous maneuvers that taxi drivers routinely make on the roads in China. Last week in my city, a taxi driver was killed instantly when he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a tree. Buses may be slower and more inconvenient in China but they are my preferred way of getting around in a city here.

即使出租车坐上去会舒服很多,但是公共汽车还是绝对首选。一则,公交车费比出租车便宜太多了。从我这个城市的南部坐到北部只要2块钱。同样的路程坐出租车要花掉40块钱左右。公共汽车也比出租车安全,因为它们没法跑那么快,而且在你遇到事故的时候会提供更多保护。中国的公共汽车司机也许和出租车司机一样疯狂,但是他们的车辆载重太多,没办法在路上做出出租车司机经常有的那些危险动作。上个星期在我的城市,一个出租车失控撞向了一棵树,司机当场死亡。中国的公共汽车可能比较慢比较不方便,但是它们是我在城市中来往的最佳工具。

2016-06-24

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