The day I nearly died

14th September 2015
Datong
China

Never will I complain about the traffic in the UK again. I will happily sit in mile long traffic jams with my nice safe seat belt on knowing I’m probably going to get home alive.
This is a feeling I didnt get often in china.


Photo credit : China Mike

Why?

  • Few back seats have seatbelts. Most taxis have mod cons like a TV screen on the back of the front seats but they don’t have seatbelts
  • It seems no one has right of way  – I was told it goes on size basically the bigger you are the more right of way you have so the big bus is the boss, down to the mini vans, cars, motorbikes, pedal bikes and lastly the mere foot passenger.
  • They don’t care is someone gets injured – I saw someone who had been hit on a crossing and the cars just carrying on round the person who is lying unconscious in the road. I was in a traffic jam on the opposite side of the road for a good ten minutes and no one went to help this person. Ive since learnt that due to people suing, they are generally too afraid to help.
  • They even have Good samaritan law a law to stop people suing to encourage people to not just walk by

My car crash

(Apologies for bad language)

After having a day of touring Datong with a Chinese driver who didn’t speak much English, we were travelling back to the hotel when I must of dozed off to be woken by my head smashing against the roof of the car, thrown to the right-side back to the left and saw my life pass before my eyes. Now I have just been through a year of hell chemotherapy treatment thinking I was going to die from cancer but it seems my fate is driving off a bridge in China. When they say your life passes before your eyes they are correct. I thought oh shit I’m not going to see my mum again and she is gonna be pissed that she’s looked after me for a year to the have this happen

As the car plummeted into the central reservation then swerved to the right it finally stopped before going off the bridge.

I can still remember it as if it was an hour ago
Silence oh my god is the driver dead
Shit I’ve got to get out of here it is about to blow
I manage to open the door grab my bag and run, well walk fast from the wreckage.
Fuck fuck fuck
I can see what looks like a police car and man stood down the road but later discovered it was a cardboard cut out (why they have these is a diferent story but apparently the Chinese think they are real so they slow down)


I turn round and see the wreckage, petrol all over the floor, the driver has managed to get out and…. He is having a fag
Oh my god stupid fucker is gonna blow up
Then I come to my senses and realise it must be diesel and I’m sure I’ve read diesel is not flammable.
He calls me over
piss off I’m not going near that car again
I finally go back when I realise its not going to blow up and realise I am probably safer by the wreckage as I feel I’m going to get hit by one of the rubberneckers stood here


 Now the ordeal begins

The driver obviously can’t understand a word I’m saying,  I try and do actions for police
“Nee nor, nee nor” I wave my arms around like a maniac but in my head I am being a police car, I think he knows that I am trying to do
He nods his head “nee nor” he signals is coming.

In passing cars people are slowing down but not to help, it is to have a look, take pictures and I even saw some people laughing.

1 hour later a van with flashing lights comes along
Help at last……
A guy hops out looks at the debris speak to the driver another car pulls up 4 Chinese get out they pick up the debris and get back into car and drive off
Another hour later another car pulls up this gotta be the police. The guys are in some sort of uniform I’m saying are u the police they just look at me like I am a crazy bitch and speak to the driver take some photographs and then just stand there. By now I’m crying sat on the middle partition as can’t even get off the road there is no where to go.

Help finally does arrive
At last a traffic cop car comes. The first policeman looks me up and down and glares.
The second cop approaches
“Are you the police?”
“Yes”
He spoke a little English but kept saying don’t be scared we are here now to look after you.

He guides me into the back of the police car takes my details and gives me some water
They start taking photos of the wreckage and road and breathalyse the driver. I have never been in a police car before, now I am starting to calm down I really want to try the police hat on that’s on the seat next to be but think I better not.
Another hour later and they all get into the car and we drive off

I’m thinking at last back to the hotel after 15 minutes we pull over to a roadside cabin

The policeman says the hotel is coming to pick me up

Half an hour later I’ve asked for a police report the two traffic cops go outside, next thing about 5 police cars pull up what looks like the sergeant gets out and comes into the porta cabin and looks at me, turns around walks out talks to the policemen outside gets into car and drives off all the other coppers one by one come in and look at me. This is so weird. What have I done I only wanted a report for my insurance

Now the two original policemen come back in and one of the policemen is filming
The other one puts on his hat and starts talking really professionally
“We have done our best for you do u agree?”
“Yes”
“Do you have any concerns or questions?”

I cotton on they filming so I don’t try and sue them

“Why is he filming”
“He isn’t, He is playing a game” Im not stupid but there is not a lot I can do about it. If my battery wasn’t dead on my phone I could of got it out and started filming them but to be honest I was too scared I just wanted to get back to the hotel.

Finally a man from the hotel arrives
I’m shitting myself I don’t want to get into the car
1. It might crash
2. They might not be from the hotel and take me and dump me somewhere

Back at the hotel

We finally get to the hotel and the duty manager is waiting outside when we pull up she comes over takes my bag keeps apologising takes my arms and guides me into the lobby. She is so apologetic. They all follow me up to my room including the driver, they wait for me to get in safely and she tells me to rest she will bring me some food.
She returns with hard boiled eggs, sausages and bread oh my god it’s so good it’s now 6pm and I have not eaten since 7am
Watermelon and orange segments in a bag and some hot milk which i dont touch
She tells me to rest and she will check on me later
I’m too scared to go to sleep in case I have concussion
Also petrified the Chinese mafia are going to come and get me so I don’t tell anyone in England.
You might think this was an overreaction but I later get told that if someone is injured the person who injures them has to pay any medical fees for life if victim is disabled so they then intentionally kill that person as its cheaper to have a one off fee of a funeral than lifetime medical costs (Source: Geoffrey Sant)

Anyway I must have fallen asleep eventually as I wake to a knock on the door. The driver and the hotel manager have come to make sure I’m ok, i felt sore but seem to have no serious injuries.
My initial thoughts are to go home but my friend is flying out in a few days to join me, if she wasnt coming I would go home. After a day of feeling sorry for myself I decide I need a kick up the bum and get back out otherwise I wont see anything and I have so been looking forward to seeing the grottoes, I cant let this incident ruin my trip.

I ask for a refund from the original car trip they look at me as though Im asking for thousands of pounds in compensation. But they do eventually give me the money back so I invest it in a English speaking guide to finish my sightseeing.

What I learnt from this

  • Put on seatbelt if there is one
  • Pay extra for car that does have seatbelt
  • Try to get a english driver or tour guide if travelling alone
  • The word for help bangbangmang, I actually learnt this before I went, but as with all the other Chinese words it can mean other things depending on how you pronounce it
  • Make sure you have the right type of insurance
  • Find out what to do in a emergency ie local telephone numbers or at least have the translation on phone for emergency like police ambulance and hospital

Now Im back in England safe I look back on this incident and realise even though it was scary at the time, it made me more determined on the trip to see what I wanted to see and pushed me that little bit further. Again its another reason to live for today
Footnote : in no way am I offending the country of china, its policeforce or its traditions. What happened to me was an event that could of happened in any country it just seemed very scary to happen in a country where little english is spoken.

2 comments

  1. I agree about UK traffic, but this experience is way out of line! I’m impressed to actually see pictures and a story you lived to tell! It’s a good thought to LEARN what HELP is in the language of the country you’re visiting, I’ll always keep that in mind now. Glad to hear you made it and able to inspire and share your story! Great tips here.

    Liked by 1 person

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