Yesterday I went to the city to do my written driving test to get my Chinese driver’s licence. It was an experience and a half. Normally Xiu Xiu would have come with me to help with the translation along the way, but yesterday she had a driving test as well at a different location. So, I was on my own. Early morning bus to Xuzhou was the start of my day.
They seem to love putting these testing places, and police stations well out of the easily reachable parts of the city. Instead of fumbling around with trying to figure out city buses, I was going to take a cab. I looked around the bus station, and there wasn’t a cab to be seen. So, I walked for 30 minutes, and eventually I found another cab who agreed to take me to the testing place I had written down on my piece of paper. We negotiated a price, which was a little too high, and we were on our way. He kept “punching” himself in the head, and saying something to me. I called Xiu Xiu to get her to translate what he was trying to say. It turns out the taxis were on strike yesterday for more money. If the other drivers caught him they would beat him up.
We arrived at the testing place, but the driver refused to take me to the gate. He pulled over, and let me out on the side of the road showing me where the test place was. The reason he wouldn’t cross the road, there was a block of 4 taxis to stop any other drivers from delivering passengers. The other drivers were yelling (what I can only imagine were) profanities at my taxi. Xiu Xiu later told me he said he felt bad he couldn’t tell me politely why he couldn’t drive me, so he agreed to take me.
Into the testing school I went. The heart of absolute confusion for me. There were a billion people crammed into the grounds, and there was enough noise to drown out a war. After wandering around for 10 minutes absolutely confused, someone gave me more than a pointed finger in a nondescript direction for where to go. I was there in time for my test!
I walked into the waiting room after giving the guard my papers. They were reading out names for the test, and I knew they had gotten to mine when he stopped his fast approach to stare blankly at the form. I hollered, “Here,” took the paper, then went to the computer room for my test.
Anyone who wants to take the driving test in English in China remember to count the negatives in a question. Remember, you aren’t reading English questions, you are reading questions translated to English by non-native speakers. The translations choose very uncommon words (definition 5. words) sometimes. Also, some of the questions make small mistakes to make the answer to the question, “wrong.” Sometimes the question has a small mistake because somebody didn’t check their translation work.
I finished the test with two questions I had stumbled to answer; one question was a sign, and one had such convoluted wording I wasn’t entirely sure they weren’t talking about the moon landing, or a Jules Verne novel. Answer 100 questions, and the last thing you need to do is click the “Hand In Test” button. I clicked, to receive the message, “Are you sure you want to hand this test in?” Of course I do, take the stupid thing before I start questioning right answers. I clicked ok, and ding ding ding, I got a 98% on the stupid thing *Crowd goes wild!*
Now, I had to get to the Police Station with my test results, which was on the other side of the city. Problem, no cabs, and I didn’t know the buses. I may write about it later, but long story short, one of the security guards agreed to drive me for $4 more than what a taxi would charge me. Once I was to the police station I handed in all my papers, and after a couple of misunderstandings of how to deal with changing over a foreign licence, it was finished. I am now a licenced driver in China. My Blockbuster Rental Card was a sturdier card that my driver’s licence, but regardless of the quality it is valid.