When Things Goes Wrong Abroad : Car Crash in China
The day I nearly died in China!!
Thinking back to my holiday disaster, it actually made me a better traveller as i am now ore aware of things that can go wrong when travelling abroad. Here is my story :
I was in Datong China and after my visit to china I will never complain about the traffic in the UK again. I will happily sit in mile long traffic jams with my nice safe seat belt on ,knowing I am probably going to get home alive. This is a feeling I didnt get often during my 3 weeks in China as the traffic is manic and the driving is even worse.
Why didn’t I feel safe on the roads in China?
- Few back seats have seatbelts. Most taxis have mod cons like a TV screen on the back of the front seats but they don’t have seatbelts
- It seems no one has right of way – I was told it goes on size basically the bigger you are the more right of way you have so the big bus is the boss, down to the mini vans, cars, motorbikes, pedal bikes and lastly the mere foot passenger.
- They don’t care is someone gets injured – I saw someone who had been hit on a crossing and the cars just carrying on round the person who is lying unconscious in the road. I was in a traffic jam on the opposite side of the road for a good ten minutes and no one went to help this person. Ive since learnt that due to people suing, they are generally too afraid to help.
- They even have Good samaritan law a law to stop people suing to encourage people to not just walk by
My car crash
After having a day of touring Datong with a Chinese driver who didn’t speak much English, we were travelling back to the hotel when I must of fallen asleep to be woken by my head smashing against the roof of the car, thrown to the right-side back to the left and saw my life pass before my eyes.
Now I had just been through a year of hell chemotherapy treatment thinking I was going to die from cancer but it seems my fate is driving off a bridge in China. When they say your life passes before your eyes they are correct it really did I remember thinking I cant die like this I have just finished chemo.
I thought oh shit I’m not going to see my mum again and she is gonna be pissed that she’s looked after me for a year to the have this happen. As the car plummeted into the central reservation then swerved to the right it finally stopped before going off the bridge. I can still remember it as if it was an hour ago Silence oh my god is the driver dead Shit I’ve got to get out of here it is about to blow I manage to open the door grab my bag and run, well walk fast from the wreckage.
Fuck fuck fuck I can see what looks like a police car and man stood down the road but later discovered it was a cardboard cut out (why they have these is a diferent story but apparently the Chinese think they are real so they slow down)
I turn round and see the wreckage, petrol all over the floor, the driver has managed to get out and…. He is having a cigarette, Oh my god stupid man is going to blow up. Then I come to my senses and realise it must be diesel and I am sure I have read diesel is not flammable.
He calls me over, piss off I’m not going near that car again I finally go back when I realise it is not going to blow up and realise I am probably safer by the wreckage as I feel I am going to get hit by one of the rubberneckers.
Now the ordeal begins
The driver obviously can’t understand a word I am saying, I try and do actions for police “Nee nor, nee nor” I wave my arms around like a maniac but in my head I am being a police car, I think he knows that I am trying to do, he nods his head “nee nor” he signals is coming.
In passing cars people are slowing down but not to help, it is to have a look, take pictures and I even saw some people laughing. 1 hour later a van with flashing lights comes along. Help at last…… A guy hops out looks at the debris speak to the driver ,another car pulls up 4 Chinese men get out they pick up the debris and get back into car and drive off.
Another hour later another car pulls up this has got to be the police. The guys are in some sort of uniform I am asking if they are police look at me like I am a crazy and speak to the driver take some photographs and then just stand by.
By now I’m crying sat on the middle partition as can’t even get off the road there is no where to go. I am really scared that I am going to be left stranded in China not a clue how to get to my hotel.
Help finally does arrive
At last a traffic cop car comes. The first policeman looks me up and down and glares. The second cop approaches “Are you the police?” “Yes” He spoke a little English but kept saying don’t be scared we are here now to look after you.
He guides me into the back of the police car takes my details and gives me some water. They start taking photos of the wreckage and road and breathalyse the driver.
I have never been in a police car before, now I am starting to calm down I really want to try the police hat on that’s on the seat next to be but think I better not.
Another hour later and they all get into the car and we drive off I am thinking at last back to the hotel after 15 minutes we pull over to a roadside cabin.
The policeman says the hotel is coming to pick me up. Half an hour later I asked for a police report the two traffic cops go outside, next thing about 5 police cars pull up what looks like the sergeant gets out and comes into the porta cabin and looks at me, turns around walks out talks to the policemen outside gets into car and drives off all the other police one by one come in and look at me.
This is so weird. What have I done I only wanted a report for my insurance. Now the two original policemen come back in and one of the policemen is filming. The other one puts on his hat and starts talking really professionally “We have done our best for you do u agree?” “Yes” “Do you have any concerns or questions?” I cotton on they filming so I don’t try and sue them “Why is he filming” “He isn’t, He is playing a game” I am not stupid but there is not a lot I can do about it. If my battery wasn’t dead on my phone I could of got it out and started filming them but to be honest I was too scared I just wanted to get back to the hotel.
Finally a man from the hotel arrives I am really scared it has been a long day I am tired and I dont really know what is going to happen. I didnt want to get in the car as I was worried that it might crash and also they might not even be from the hotel and are going to dump me somewhere in the middle of china. I read too many horror books my imagination is going wild.
Back at the hotel
But they are genuine and take me back to the hotel where the duty manager is waiting outside. When we pull up she comes over takes my bag keeps apologising takes my arms and guides me into the lobby. She is so apologetic. They all follow me up to my room including the driver, they wait for me to get in safely and she tells me to rest she will bring me some food.
She returns with hard boiled eggs, sausages and bread oh my god it is so good it is now 6pm and I have not eaten since 7am. Watermelon and orange segments in a bag and some hot milk.
She tells me to rest and she will check on me later. I am too scared to go to sleep in case I have concussion. Also petrified the Chinese mafia are going to come and get me so I don’t tell anyone in England. You might think this was an overreaction but my friend tells me via messenger that if someone is injured the person who injures them has to pay any medical fees for life if victim is disabled so they then intentionally kill that person as its cheaper to have a one off fee of a funeral than lifetime medical costs
Anyway I must have fallen asleep eventually as I wake to a knock on the door. The driver and the hotel manager have come to make sure I am OK, I felt sore but seem to have no serious injuries.
My initial thoughts are to go home but my friend was flying out in a few days to join me, if she was not coming I would have gone home.
After a day of feeling sorry for myself I decide I need a kick up the bum and get back out otherwise I wont see anything in Datong and I have so been looking forward to seeing the grottoes, I cant let this incident ruin my trip.
I ask for a refund from the original car trip they look at me as though I am asking for thousands of pounds in compensation. But they do eventually give me the money back so I invest it in a English speaking guide to finish my sightseeing.
What I learnt from my holiday disaster
- Put on seatbelt if there is one
- Pay extra for car that does have seatbelt
- Try to get a english driver or tour guide if travelling alone
- The word for help bangbangmang, I actually learnt this before I went, but as with all the other Chinese words it can mean other things depending on how you pronounce it
- Make sure you have the right type of insurance
- Find out what to do in a emergency ie local telephone numbers or at least have the translation on phone for emergency like police ambulance and hospital
Now Im back in England safe I look back on this incident and realise even though it was scary at the time, it made me more determined on the trip to see what I wanted to see and pushed me that little bit further. Again its another reason to live for today
Footnote : in no way am I offending the country of China, its police force or its traditions. What happened to me was an event that could of happened in any country it just seemed very scary to happen in a country where little English is spoken.
Have you had a scary experience whilst travelling, has it changed the way you now feel about travelling. Please get in contact and share your experience with me.
Article updated June 2019