I was driving back home from school. It was a gorgeous day. The roads were fairly empty, and my mind was wandering over the lessons covered in class. Normally I am a fairly cautious driver because the traffic conditions here are subject to abrupt change. I always follow all the rules of the road (a LOT of drivers don’t), and I’ve even managed to quash my instinct to turn right on red lights.
That was a really hard one to do because it’s legal in Canada, and personally, I think it’s stupid that you can’t do it here, BUT, when in Rome….
The point is I always follow the rules. Errr…well most of the time.
Sometimes my “devil-may-care” attitude surfaces, and I think I’m Evel Knievel. It can be really fun (and dangerous) to zip in and out of traffic on a scooter, and occasionally I cannot resist the temptation. As it happens, this was one such occasion.
The road curved to the left. There was a huge transport truck in front, to my left, and a few cars between me and the truck. As my Ghostrider persona came on, I sped up and started darting between the cars. Being lighter, my vehicle accelerates very fast, and I was soon overtaking the truck (on the right hand side). Since the road cuved left, and I was on the right of the truck, I couldn’t see that the traffic light ahead had turned red.
And so I blasted through the red doing about 70 kmph.
Even though I don’t usually do this kind of stuff, it’s a common occurence on the roads in Taiwan. People are blasting through red lights all the time (I know, I know…that doesn’t make it right…just saying!)
And then I saw a policeman pop out of the pavement ahead of me and start flagging me over. Shit.
As I approached he blasted me with a stream of Mandarin. I was wearing my politest smile and trying really hard to convey that “dumb foreigner doesn’t know what’s happenning” look.
While, I was well aware of why he pulled me over, I was (like any other person would) going to try and get away with it.
He continued to yammer at me in an authoritative manner. He was all:
Except he was Taiwanese, and I couldn’t find a picture of an angry Taiwanese or even Asian cop.
Still feigning confused innocence, I was all:
Minus the tiara and the drink, of course.
After he checked to make sure that the vehicle was registered under my name, he motioned me over. Dammit. As I started to move the scooter to the side of the road, he motioned again and said, “You can go!”
I was confused, but decided to take my good fortune and run away. As I was pulling off, he waved and said, “See you!” What a nice guy! Unless he meant he would be watching for me in the future…hmmmm.
One of the things that surprised me about this encounter was the he didn’t even ask to see my license. I later found out that they care more about the vehicle registration (to make sure you haven’t stolen it) than the license here.
As I drove away, I was thoroughly relieved that he didn’t speak any English and didn’t want to deal with any hassels in booking a foreigner.
To all my Taiwanese friends….I know this is unfair, and you might be a bit peeved. I’m not proud of getting away with things that native people won’t (although I am glad I did). I am well aware that I am at fault here, and will definitely try not to do it again.
That being said, this is yet another example of the privileges of being a foreigner in small town Taiwan. While I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten away with it in the city, I did get away with it here.
Sometimes not knowing Mandarin pays off.
Shrugging man – http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3913060