Your Zhōngguó is our weekly Friday piece in which our users share their China stories. As Sherpa’s continues to serve hungry people across Shanghai, Beijing, and Suzhou, it’s only right that we get to the people we’ve been feeding!
What brought you to China? What has kept you here? Where’s your favourite place to visit? How do you spend your free time? What’s an exciting or funny story you want to share?
If you want to be featured send us your story and bio to firstname.lastname@example.org – if you and your story interests us, we will be in touch!
How A Driver’s Licence Changed My China
by David Brenman
I’ve lived in China for about two and a half years. I love travelling in China, but on a trip to a rural village last year, a friend and I found ourselves struggling to get from place to place, waiting long periods for buses to arrive and missing out on destinations that public transportation simply didn’t go. Determined to reach parts of China beyond the scope of the gaotie and the other transit methods I’d tried so far, I decided to get a Chinese driver’s license.
The process was extensive but straightforward, and after gathering my folder full of documents (needed to do almost anything administrative in China) I had a medical check. Compared with the check to get a residence permit, this one is quite unobtrusive: I could even self-report my height and weight though there was a scale in the examination room.
The driving test itself (for those with a license from their home country) is given on a computer. Forty-five minutes to answer 100 questions, drawn at random from a bank of around 1,500. Even with the option to take the test in English, many of the questions were non-intuitive, poorly written, or just didn’t have anything to do with driving. However, after a few days of studying/memorizing answers, I passed. The license was printed and handed over to me on the spot.
Renting a car was also an easier process than I expected. I entered my dates and location on a popular Chinese travel website and was given a list of cars to choose from. The day of, my friend and I arrived at the location and was escorted to a parking lot where our car had just been washed. After a thorough inspection and an explanation of the insurance policy, we were good to go!
After the first hour or two on the road, I began to get used to some of the driving norms. Driving with many cars around us was stressful, but we quickly left the city for the countryside where there were long stretches of the open road with no other cars in sight. The trouble to get the license was worth it – few of the back roads we drove down or villages we walked through would have been accessible without a car. For anyone that wants to try a new form of travel in China, I would highly recommend it!
David is a dual Canadian-US citizen living in Shanghai, where he is a project manager working in the risk consulting and compliance industry. He drinks a lot of Chinese tea, eats at vegetarian restaurants, and is currently reading Dune.
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