I finally bought a scooter the other day.  I paid NT$15,000 (a little under US$500) for a 125cc used Yamaha.  This means that I am now saving about an hour every day on my commute.  I'm also saving some money on transportation fees, although not as much as I'd expected, since gas is so expensive now.

Yes, Mom, I am wearing my helmet.  I also have a spare helmet in case I need to drive people around, so I am not going to be like the folks I excoriated in a previous posting who had no regard for the safety of their passengers.  (By the way, quite a lot of Taiwanese folks DO have helmets for their children.  Kid-sized helmets are not expensive, either.  So it is very possible to drive your kid around safely.  It just makes me angry when people could take that extra step, but don't.)

I am a little concerned about 2 things, though.  First, traffic safety.  Traffic laws are pretty much the same here as in the US.  Well, in theory, at any rate.  In practice, they couldn't be more fictional if they were written by Bugs Bunny and co-authored by Mickey Mouse with a foreword by Popeye the Sailor Man.  I am saying that the traffic rules here are less real than Donald Trump's sense of humility.  In short, they are NON-EXISTENT.  It really doesn't matter how long the light has been green, you need to be careful when going through it, because there might just be some maniac in a hurry who's running the red light on the cross-street.  No matter how wide the road, someone is trying to take a left turn from the right lane, or a right turn from the left lane.  On any given block, there is someone driving on the left when they should be on the right.  If it is a one-way street, they will be going the other way.  (I should add that I am exaggerating here.  Most drivers are sane.  But there are a good minority of drivers here who are not, and their propensity for thinking up new and interesting ways to endanger themselves and other drivers continues to amaze me, in a scared-out-of-my-wits sort of amazement.)

So, care is needed.  I think that as long as I ride while scared out of my wits, I will be good to go.  As soon as I stop expecting people to drive like maniacs, that's when I'll have an accident.

The other thing I worry about is breathing exhaust.  When you're sitting at a red light at 9am, surrounded by hundreds of other scooters, cars, and trucks, there are lots of pollutants in the air you are breathing.  A lot of people wear surgical masks, and they make much thicker cloth masks for scooter riders (yes, I have one) but it still can't block all the pollution.

Oh, yes, there is one more thing to worry about.  I've written before about the girls who sell betel nuts on the side of the road here, and their preferred choice of clothing (or lack thereof).  There is a string of seven betel nut stands on my route home from work, all lined up right next to each other.  I am calling this "Willpower Way", since it sounds better than "Don't Stare or You'll Have an Accident Way".  The funny things is that the first time I passed by, I had to exert extreme willpower to prevent my higher brain functions from shutting down and slamming the scooter into a parked truck.  The second time I passed by, I actually got a look at some of the girls' faces.  (No, the faces were not the first thing I looked at.  Get real here, folks.)  Some of them were quite pretty, but several of them were…ummm…not.  Not that I was going to buy betel nuts from them anyway, but it does mean it'll be easier to concentrate on the road.


2 Responses to “Scooterfied”

  1. MJ Says:

    ahahhahahaha ben..
    and about the traffic? i totally understand.. i was scared witless when i went to the philippines… and i wasnt even the one driving.. though this time, daddy has decided that we should get a car.. so we may be driving *eek!*

  2. Ro Says:

    I only driven once in the philippines and other asian countries. After knowing how they have laws and none seems to follow the driving laws… i decided that it was safer to have someone else drive me around:)

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