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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Five tips for surviving on China's chaotic roads

October 19th, 2009
01:57 PM ET

Show no fear: He (or she) who hesitates is lost

This is particularly true at intersections, where much to the fear and terror of anyone visiting China for the first time, the "left turn in front of oncoming traffic" is one of the most common, and yet totally illegal moves.

This happened so often I asked Yan Wenhui, the head of a driving school in Beijing, if I was mistaken and the move was something unique to China. " According to traffic regulations, vehicles that are turning should give way to vehicles going straight," he told me with a totally straight face - so much for that.

To carry this out successfully, the car making the left-hand turn must move quickly to cut in front of the oncoming traffic. Novice international drivers especially often make the glaring mistake of slowing down in fear, totally confused thinking they have the right of way (which they do); that will simply open the way for the entire line of traffic to make the left turn, while they're left at the traffic lights until it turns red.

Cross walks are safe for pedestrians – NOT

Try using the crosswalk on a busy Beijing road and you’ll end up ducking and weaving faster than Muhammad Ali. Again the rules are pretty clear –- the oncoming traffic must slow down, stop and give way to pedestrians, the reality is something completely different. There was a time a few years ago when I noticed drivers would stop for non-Chinese pedestrians, thinking that perhaps they were unaware of this unwritten rule, but that seems to have changed. Taxis and buses seem to be the worst offenders here, not only do they not stop, but they seem to accelerate, and head straight for you – or maybe I am feeling a little paranoid.

Bicycles, tricycles and rickshaws

Look out for these guys. There was once a time when China was the kingdom of bicycles -– and they’re not giving up the crown without a fight. Any accident involving someone pushing pedals, and the driver is toast. And boy do they relish their protected species status, pulling out, swerving and cutting in front with almost gay abandon.

Indicating is for wimps

OK, so it's getting a little better, but the bottom line is –- if you give any hint that you might want to change lanes, that just means the guy in the other lane is going to speed up to keep you out. Better to keep it a complete surprise.

Tailgating is standard

Make sure you follow as closely as possible to the guy in front. In the west we call this tailgating, in China, its called driving. Any gap, the smallest of space will be like a giant invitation for someone to cut in front.

Bottom line driving in China is all about making sure everyone else believes you’re not going to stop . . .  don’t make eye contact, and keep plowing through. And for the record, I don’t drive.

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Filed under:  General

Six Degrees: Bent to Mehsud

October 19th, 2009
11:53 AM ET

It’s time for “Six Degrees” - our weekly challenge for Connect the World viewers and Web users.

Sunderland striker Darren Bent (obscured) shoots towards goal and the ball hits a beach ball that had been blown onto the pitch.

Sunderland striker Darren Bent (obscured) shoots towards goal and the ball hits a beach ball that had been blown onto the pitch.

Here’s how to play: We choose two people in the news this week and ask you to connect them through the six steps.

This week we’ve chosen Sunderland striker Darren Bent, who scored one of the weirest goals in football when a beach ball thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan rolled in front of Reds' goalkeeper Pepe Reina, from where it was struck by Bent - and Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who is being pursued by Pakistani forces in South Waziristan.

You need to come up with five other people between those two for a total of six links.

Leave your submissions in the comments section below, and the team will pick the most creative connection, and we’ll announce the winner on Friday’s show.

If you want your friends to take the challenge as well, then click the “share post” button below.

To see previous challenges, click here. Happy connecting!


Filed under:  General

Connector of the day: Nina Sankovitch

October 19th, 2009
11:36 AM ET

Nina Sankovitch has become an Internet phenomenon by documenting her goal of reading and reviewing a book every day for 365 days. Despite having four children and a very busy life Sankovitch has stuck to her goal and published her reviews on her Web site.

Nina Sankovitch is reading and reviewing a book every day for a year.

Nina Sankovitch is reading and reviewing a book every day for a year.

 On Tuesday Sankovitch will have read her 358th book in as many days. The environmental lawyer is using reading to cope with her sister’s untimely death and to inspire a love of books in others.

Her read-all-day project has some ground rules: all books are ones she has not read before; she reads only one book per author, and she reads one day and posts a review the following morning. By necessity she sticks to books no longer than 300 pages (with a couple of exceptions). 

With just over one week to go, Sankovitch talks to Connect the World about her amazing feat. Is reading a pre-Internet, pre-TV anachronism? Nina insists not. She thinks the joy and inspiration you can get from books cannot be found elsewhere.

Send us your comments, questions for Nina and we’ll do our best to use them on Tuesday's show.


Filed under:  General