Driving License (part 1)
Yesterday I went for the first "official" part of the driving license test: the medical test. My European license has been translated and I needed to go myself to the traffic police station, to show I have arms and eyes (note: small village 1 hour from Nanjing).
I arrived there with my driver little after 4 (they close at 5) and the first thing I heard: 老外， 老外， 老外！Exitement all over the place. After some random “queuing , we acquired the right form and need to go upstairs. My driver tells me "luckily we are just in time". I ask him "why?" they close at 5?! Silly me, it is government and they need to prepare to leave work at 4:30. (Later I hear Tuesday is an excellent day to go, because they might refuse to work on other days, e.g. Friday that is weekend already and most likely not help you, nowadays it is also “much better” then the past :-)).
At the 3rd floor I go into the examination room and there is a picture missing: panic! We we have to run around the building to make one (28 RMB). While I sit on the little stooll the gossiping starts. Also there is confusion WHO is taking the test. Well, there is one 老外 and one guy fluent in Chinese, who looks Chinese and has al the papers (with my name). When the picture is finished, they ask my driver if I understand the conversation: now it is time for me to have a little fun: yes of course I tell them! I have been living here for about 2 years and tell them the usual chit chat in Chinese. More praise follows. So far so good!
We need to go to another floor to show some papers and then there are problems with the passport number and my European name. They ask the driver if I have a Chinese name, and suggest I use that. So I tell them and this also lightens up the atmosphere a bit. The standard response by the officers is rather grumpy.
Again we need to go to another floor. We have to fill in more details and then there is my Chinese name and my first character is not the normal 马, so. I suggest to write it myself and more surprise all over。
Then we need to go back to the 3rd floor for the test. We have to glue the picture on the paper, there is more gossiping and suddenly my driver runs to the first floor again. I was still wondering when the medical test starts.
Before I know it, I am outside listening to complaints about working hours from the government and wonder who examined me. I return to my husband’s office and tell how it went. It was exactly the same when my husband applied for the license. Just bureaucratic blah blah. Guess in the end I didn’t need eyes or arms after all, no one checked.
Today my driver needs to go with all the papers to a different city and I will hear the test date. There is some confusion who is actually taking the test. We all know that my Chinese is not good enough and seriously, no one told me one rule or gave me some instructions. The driver doesn’t want to take the test a second time because he is afraid to fail (and loose face). Common practice is to find “translators” who also happen to be very good at driving exams!
crystal_counselorDecember 30, 2009, 12:50 AM
so that's one of my reasons that why I still don't have a lisence, fan2 si3 le.
I would rather take subway everyday (very convenient in shanghai) than take my driver's license.
chanelle77December 30, 2009, 01:39 AM
I really do understand! Also I wonder if I get it in the end! I just like to see how far I can get and guess see it as a free Chinese class and a *fun* experience :-).
Yesterday my ayi told me all the dangers of driving yourself in China, she used 烦死了 a LOT!
changyeDecember 30, 2009, 02:31 AM
I arrived there with my driver little after 4 (they close at 5)
This is just out of question in any country, hehe. You have to do it in the morning, especially in a small city in China.
bodaweiDecember 30, 2009, 02:42 AM
I love creating 烦死了 - best way to learn Chinese. :-)
I'm puzzled why you have to go 'a small village one hour from Nanjing' - or even what that means? It is common for Chinese cities to be comprised of many 'villages'; the city as it expands 'swallows' the village but the name remains. Or even brand new communities may carry a 'village' description. Your description suggests travelling to the edge of the huge city of Nanjing, then travelling through countryside for an hour until you arrive at a little hamlet where they rarely see foreigners! For a drivers licence!? Do you just mean one hour from where you live? [Which may not be very far in a Chinese city if the traffic is bad! ;-)]
chanelle77December 30, 2009, 03:47 AM
@Changye: in Holland or Germany I would be just fine ;-).
@Bodawei, yes, sorry need to explain that, the place where I went is village my husband's company is located (countryside). There is a relationship with the government and my husband went through the whole thing there once before. Also my visa is issued there. So I needed to go there in stead of Nanjing (tried that before but did not work out). It is an hour drive (highway) and it is a small countryside village. Most plants are located in remote places :-). And yes, foreigners are quite rare there compared to "cosmopolitan" Nanjing ;-).
crystal_counselorDecember 30, 2009, 12:51 AM
so that's one of my reasons that why I still don't have a license, fan2 si3 le.
I would rather take subway everyday (very convenient in shanghai) than take my driver's license.
bodaweiDecember 31, 2009, 03:45 PM
I also like the way most Chinese drive, and your description - sounds like an engineer's view of the world. I visualise a system of Eastern gyroscopes (they would obviously operate by different physical laws to the Western versions.) Actually the cars here have a variety of automatic and semi-automatic gearboxes that seem quite different to Western ones. (I would need to investigate further to elaborate.)
Also, even the cheapest cars here have the most amazing gadgets and features. A friend just bought a basic little sedan that is designed to look like a Panda - and the likeness is startling. Inside there is a radar affair that picks up obstructions on the road - now why don't you just look through the windscreen I wonder? The other night we were out when some ducks walked across the road some distance ahead - there they were on the little radar screen, a line of ducks.
brianhzJanuary 02, 2010, 10:05 AM
i got my chinese licence in hangzhou recently. first the medical. similar story, lots of forms and some photos but the place had many rooms or counters with numbers so it was go to number 23, then 14 back to 32 etc. For the medical it was like the medical we do here for our residency permit. Very well organised, colour blind check 30 seconds, hearing check 30 seconds, eyes check look into a pair of lenses and say which way the 山 is pointing, 20 seconds. Had to show i could twist my head from side to side, bend over etc.
The guy in front of me for the eye test failed so it is good they stop near blind people from getting a licence, not that i think it seems to matter too much here sometimes if you can't see where you are going.
For the theory test it was multi choice on a computer. 100 questions (It had english and chinese)with four answers to choose from. They were exactly the same as in the book. You need to get 90% I think. I got 99. If you are in some small place without the computer test it will be interesting and maybe more challenging.
bababardwanJanuary 02, 2010, 08:14 PM
Thanks for this post.These anecdotes are great.What actually intrigues me most is the process of adopting a Chinese name and having that recognised officially,especially in this age of identity theft,fraud etc.So I'm wondering how this works at an official level.
see how far I can get and guess see it as a free Chinese class and a *fun* experience :-).
..I love your attitude.Jiayou :)
"inertial intent" haha[you must see Avatar btw...I think this term could be applied there].Can't wait to hear more of your coined terms.
hehe,love the radar story.Was this the car you were referring to?:
chanelle77January 02, 2010, 11:37 PM
@RJ, I laughed so hard about your comment, my husband and I always joke: the nr 1 rule here: NEVER look at others. Once you look you are f*cked / guilty / wrong etc. Down side: have seen more horrible accidents in 2 years China than my whole life in EU. BIG trucks do not stop / divert easily, unfortunately.... I asked my husband's colleages WHY do people just cross the street without looking, please enlighten me: he said something about, habit, no experience, just don't care.....unbelievable...
@brian, that is some useful info about the test, maybe I should get the book and memorize the 100 Q's. You did a great job b.t.w., with 99%!
@baba +rest, most welcome: I love to write about daily life here. If I had the time I could write every day about something :-).
My Chinese name (玛秋琳) was given to me by my ayi and teacher. I have been using it since everywhere that I could use it (read: free practise :-)).
I used it also on official documents and seems completely normal. I never registered it offically or anything and just started using it (now also have name seals with that name, can't wait to pull out my huge seal with dragon and *hit* them with that haha ).
To be honest have no clue about legal stuff. But to me would make sense if you register it somewhere? Maybe someone knows around here?
There should be more news on the test next week: last thing I heard there was a *stamp* missing and someone needs to go to a local police officer (guanxi). Also need some sort of registration bc my visa is in place X, licence will be Y and live in Z.....
bodaweiJanuary 03, 2010, 01:24 PM
Believe it or not, my Panda is a different car! So there is more than one Panda! The one I was in is a larger sedan and the paintwork is a little more.. (how shall I say it?) subtle. It is white all over, except for the eyes, and the body shape is more rounded. I have to say my friend's car is more Panda-like. You feel like you want to rub its fur.
My experience with names is that if you need to match your name with your passport you should use the name in your passport, not your Chinese name. I use a Chinese name for inconsequential things like signing for a package, or to confirm payment etc. (there is only space for three characters), and for getting a supermarket card or something else where they are never going to ask to see your passport. Of course if you get married here they might transliterate your name themselves, without asking your choice of Chinese name. The police station poses a problem - you must use the name in your passport, but their system is designed for 汉字. If they want to search it (my experience in Chengdu), the system won't search a romanised name. We had to find it by birth date!
RJDecember 30, 2009, 09:39 PM
I am waiting for the actual driving part. That should be interesting.
Chanelle you should have taken a driver's ed course in China. Im sure that would have been an experience. I remember I took mine in high school. Not only my favorite class but the instuctor let us smoke. (it was a diiferent time). We had cars with "student driver" written on the side. Im sure that would mean certain death in china. I kind of like the way the chinese drive however, I call it driving by inertial intent. You must feel the other drivers and they must feel you. No courtesies extended or expected, just the usual irreverent queueing. Eye contact is the kiss of death.