For some, cars might seem to be a relatively recent invention, as the year of birth of the automobile dates back to only 1886 (the end of the 19th century, that is). Comapred to the infinity of centuries going back in human history, 1886 makes for a quite recent date, being very close to nowadays. Still, cars feel so much part of our everyday realities that it somehow feels that they have been here, among humans and for humans, since times immemorial. But when I say "our" everyday realities I have to be specific and stress out that I am particularly refering to Western societies, defined by values which promote democracy, equity and equality of rights, personal, social and political freedoms and the like.
Western societies, though, are not the only societies existing in the wide world we live in. And, even though the planet is round, I won't pretend that just because of that I cannot see through to the other side of it. On the contrary, I insist on stretching my neck to take a look at what is the case with cars and car-related issues in other parts of the globe as well. Let's take China, for a start.
Did you know that, as a non-Chinese, you cannnot actually drive around China, even if you have the International Driver's License? Well, yes, it is true; unfortunately, China did not book for that. However, if you happen to go by plane to China and land in one of its major cities, you might want to convert your International Driver's Permit into a Chinese permit at the especially assigned counters in the airport. This is the only chance you've got! Otherwise, I guess you will just have to pass the Chinese examination for a Chinese driver's licence and I wish you good luck with it!
|Central Ningbo -|
Immediately after, you might also need to forget any driving rule you might have known, as there will be no other way for you to adapt to the Chinese traffic otherwise. Maybe just because of that, taking the car in China might prove to be dangerous, especially if not adapted to the chaos. There are twice as many car accidents happening in China annually compared to the United States, even though the numbers of cars registered in the US are four times more than those registered in the whole China. Interesting numbers! Not to mention that most of the car accidents happening in China prove to be fatal in too many instances. So, if you are in for some extreme adventure and for that drive on the 'wild side', just try out driving in China!
Eastern Europe – Romania
However, if China seems too far away, but you are still into a drive on the wild side, why not take a car tour of countries that used to belong to the former Eastern European block? You might be impressed with the number of very expensive and truly luxurious cars that you might be faced with in these parts of the world. It so many times happens to get surprised when over there!
|Transfăgărășan Highway, Romania|
Romania is famous for the very expensive cars that one might get to see on the roads, but also for the ... unfinished highway leading to the West – or linking the Central-West to its more Eastern paths. So, if coming from the west, pay attention to this uniquosity and avoid the road that leads to nowhere. As funny as it might seem, I think that it might get less amusing if you find out, for instance, that the AA breakdown cover will be of no use in these "off the beaten track" situations - literally speaking! Good luck with it!
Cars are also present in Africa, even though to a much lesser extent than in other parts of the world. Safari in Africa sounds very posh to anyone's ears, as it stands for a very exquisite treat that one might offer to him/herself, don't you think? Maybe because for a safari in Africa you need a car and cars are rather scarce on the African continent. You will find the rather practical cars, well equipped with a very strong engine to take you out of troybling roads – as a paved road is hard to find on the Black continent – that's a fact!
Last, but not least, in case you go to Saudi Arabia, well ... you will be seeing cars. But the cars will only be driven by ... men. Saudi Arabia is one of those cases of striking discrimination when it comes to gender issues that could drive any European nuts. Over there, only the boy can play with his toy – namely, the car – and women are left outside of it. Maybe that is why the roads are also unsafe, as the drivers tend to onfenly get agressive.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the car ride around some of the places you could visit around the world. I also conclude that, even though it might come natural to many of us to drive a car, it seems that the car is, indeed, a rather recent invention and it still has a long way to go. Maybe not for us – those offspring of Western societies -, but certainly for those born non-Western.