Friday, November 21, 2014


We are in a unique position here regarding transportation.  We don't own a car so we rely on buses and taxis to get around.  Most of the time this is no problem.  But we have an interesting situation on the southern side of Hong Kong Island, and that is there is a one-and-a-half lane 250-yard bridge about 2 miles to our east.  This bridge spans one of the reservoirs and was built of stone in 1907, which one assumes is why it is so narrow.  There are no stop lights to guide traffic only a sign instructing that no two heavy vehicles should be on the bridge at the same time.  Most of the time drivers manage to make decent decisions about when to go and when to wait for oncoming traffic. Things can get pretty cozy on the bridge, especially if there is a double decker bus going over.  I've been on such a bus when drivers from the other direction thought it would be a good idea to drive on through.  The result? Both lanes of vehicles crawl to nearly a stop while in passing.  Drivers need to have their side mirrors collapsed or they would be torn off - seeing as the two vehicles are literally about 4 inches from one another.

So this one night Brent and I decided it was a good night to take the family out to supper in Stanley (about 2 miles to our west).  It was a Friday night, if I recall.  We walked the two blocks down to the main road to catch a taxi.  We arrived to find traffic heading east backed up all the way to our intersection.  Traffic heading west (to Stanley) didn't exist.  Not a car.  Not for 15 maybe 20 minutes.  Clearly something had happened on the bridge!  Traffic continued to pile up and back up (probably all the way to Stanley by now).  Dozens of people were still waiting for buses or taxis, but traffic was at a standstill.  No one was honking or angry.  Everyone was quite patient, as far as I could tell, except for our friend who was desperate to get her dog to the vet.

We waited. And waited.  Pretty soon we heard a siren from the west.  We saw a single police officer on a motorcycle heading toward the bridge.  But here's the funny thing.  The lane on our side of the boulevard was entirely open since no traffic could come from the east.  But the motorcycle cop was heading TOWARD the trouble THROUGH the quagmire of backed-up traffic!  He was slowing winding his way around vans and cars and using his siren to try to get them to move 2 inches this way or that.  Unbelievable.  Just move into the oncoming traffic lane, I thought, and you'd have smooth sailing as far as the bridge!

One wondered if there were some horrible accident or what.  But as it turned out, another 5 minutes and traffic would begin to move and we would finally catch our taxi to dinner.  I inquired what the hold up was, "An accident?" "No."  "Two big buses?" "No." "What then?" "Car and bus," I think he said.  He seemed a bit exasperated but nothing more.  These sorts of things seem to happen every two or three weeks especially during heavy traffic times.

It would seem prudent to put a few solar panelled traffic lights up - one on either end - to control traffic and make it one lane only.  But so far whoever is in control of roads has not seen fit to do that.  And so we journey on.  Or not, as the case may be.