KRIEGER: The other side of China

BEIJING — I’ve heard of people covering their eyes when faced with an impending crash, but I’d never actually seen it until Saturday night.
A colleague from Florida and I were careening through the streets of Beijing, our fate in the hands of a cabbie with whom we could not speak.

We were about to slam into another cab suddenly pulling out of a lane of traffic when my colleague buried his face in his hands. I looked down and braced for the impact, wondering idly if my insurance covered medical care in China.
Miraculously, it didn’t come. I’m not sure why since I wasn’t looking.

In the land of rules and regulations, drivers basically ignore them all. When we lurched off the main thoroughfare into a narrow hutong, a cobblestone alley barely the width of a car, the potential victims of our manic guide became bicyclists and pedestrians. In a city of 17 million people, everyone is apparently accustomed to these near misses. We whizzed within three inches of a cyclist who pedaled placidly on, never even turning to look.