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R.P. BenDedek

A Trip to Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province China: Murphy's Law
By R.P. BenDedek
Jan 8, 2012 - 12:20:33 AM

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For your pleasure I have included some random photographs of Jiaxing City's interesting architecture.

So many times over the years I have used the expression 'Murphy's Law' and stated that it follows me constantly. In fact I am sure some misbegotten ancestor of mine must have kicked a passing Leprechaun who put a curse on the man and thereafter all in my family have been plagued by Murphy's Law.

I once had someone write me to say that there was no such thing as Murphy's Law but that my personal 'negativity', my belief - if you will, was drawing all the negative energy of the universe into my life and thus I was creating all my own bad luck. Wow! Who knew I could have such power!

Roman Architecture

L'arc de triomphe - with Chinese Characteristics
Well, today I want to tell you of my adventures of several weeks ago, in which so many things went wrong and which I feel sure will convince the skeptic of the reality of Murphy's Law.

I had arranged to meet up with a friend who was flying in from Chengdu to Shanghai. The original plan was for him to come straight from Shanghai to Suzhou; stay the weekend, and then travel on to Wuxi for a conference.

When I informed him that mutual friends were living just an hour out of Suzhou (traveling the freeway), we changed plans to meet in Jiaxing in ZheJiang province. We were to meet Friday evening, and then travel back to Suzhou Saturday night.

I had traveled to Jiaxing some weeks previously and knew how much time it took to travel from my home to the intercity bus terminal; approximately 45 minutes. Thursday lunchtime, I went to the bus depot and purchased my ticket for 3 pm. Friday.

Elevated Lawns atop a cultural Centre in Jiaxing

A Paris Wedding in China
I came home from school on Friday with a headache, and arrived at about 12.15pm and immediately opened my email account and noted that there were more articles for publication at Magic City. I had already pre-prepared the few that I had received, and so quickly set about preparing the new ones.

Because of USA Daylight Savings Time I couldn't actually publish anything till after 1pm China Time, so after setting everything up, I got myself some lunch, cleaned my kitchen, showered and returned to the computer. At 1:15pm I began publishing the articles at Magic City and was finished by 1.25pm at which point I lay down to rest for 30 minutes.

At 1:55pm my alarm went off and I jumped up and dressed, brushed my teeth, and hurriedly left my apartment. When I got to ground floor, I realized that I had forgotten something, and had to run back.

By the time I was back on the ground floor it was 2.05pm and I rushed up the street to catch the local bus, stopping however in the corner store to pick up a bottle of soda. (2.12pm) I then ran around the corner and spent 7 minutes waiting for a bus. Usually there is a bus every 3 minutes or so.

I jumped on the bus thinking that as long as we encounter no problems, that I would make it to the depot on time. Now normally, the trip between my stop and the Guanqianjie (Big Walking street up near Ren Min Road) is problematical because of all the new road works and the general congestion between the small walking street and the big walking street.

Water Parks abound

Ornate Ornamental Gate
Well! You can imagine how relieved I felt as we fairly flew up to the Guanqianjie. By the time we got there I figured I had at least 10 minutes to spare at the Bus Depot, because from that point the bus travels in a separated bus lane and there are only about 8 stops. This is the quick part of the journey.

And this is where Murphy really stepped in. As we turned into Renmin road, we came to a standstill. Traffic was banked up for the length of the street, with no hope of getting to the entrance of the separated bus lane. So we sat!

After what seemed an eternity, the traffic began to move and we made it to the bus lane. That the bus driver was pleased was obvious by the breakneck speed at which he traveled down the bus lane. What did not please him (or me) was the idiot driver who was in the bus lane trying to get back out into the traffic. No one would let him in, and so the bus was stuck behind him. If you have ever lived in China you can just imagine the horn honking that went on.

Well we finally cleared that hurdle, and then caught up to a bus that would stop, pick up, take off then again stop, pick up and take off, then stop again, pick up and take off - at the same bloody bus stop. Who could have imagined that such a courteous bus driver even existed in China?

Rue de la Concorde in Jiaxing

Christmas Spirit in Jiaxing
Then he finally turned out of the bus lane and we rocketed forward, to come to a grinding halt at the main intersection traffic lights, where we had to wait a full 90 seconds before we could turn left. By this stage, I had 8 minutes left before my bus was due to leave. But then again, there were only 3 stops to go.

At the first of those three bus stops we pulled in behind a bus that for some reason didn't want to leave the stop, and our driver had to break out into traffic. That took more time.

When we got to the next stop, we dropped off passengers and started to take off, at which point another bus shot around in front of us, stopped at an angle that blocked our progress and dropped passengers off in the middle of the lane. As he took off, another bus decided that he was going to cut in between the two of us, and we both came to a screeching halt that was then followed by a game of 'chicken', as each driver determined to force the other to stop. We lost more time.

Finally we were on the approach to the last stop. I had 2 minutes left. All I had to do was jump off the bus, run across the courtyard at the bus station, run up the stairs, run all the way to the end of the terminal, and hope that the bus would be leaving just one or two minutes later than scheduled. (Usually there is never any fear of a bus leaving on time.)

Long live the republic

Egyptian Obelisk in a Roman Section of a Chinese Town
Before we could actually arrive at that last stop, some stupid (expletive followed by more expletives) driver who thought that lanes are painted on roads to make them look more attractive, was stuck in traffic straddling two lanes, and none of the buses could pull up at the bus stop. And so we sat there, locked inside the bus, just 100 meters from the bus stop, as another 90 seconds ticked by.

Did I make my bus? Almost! Which of course counts for nothing!

Discovering that I had missed my bus, I proceeded downstairs to the ticket window and asked if I could exchange tickets. They said that I could not but that I could get a half refund on the unused ticket.

Well I always look for the silver lining, and in this instance, it was that I learned that the next bus was due to leave in just 25 minutes. Well! I didn't realize that these buses were so close. Note to Self: No need to book a ticket in future!

At the appropriate time, the bus duly 'did not arrive on time' and we sat for 5 minutes in the waiting lounge waiting for it! Five rotten minutes late it was! Had the last bus been so late I could have caught that! Oh well! Doesn't Matter! It's not important! Do not worry!

At 3:37pm the bus left the depot and we were on our way. Not so bad really! Only 37 minutes later than I originally planned!

Did you think that was it? Did you think that I am writing to complain about a measly 37 minutes? Of Course Not! Murphy got me on that bus cause he KNEW that it was THIS bus that was going to have all the problems.

First we took off from the depot, headed out toward the freeway, and then turned off and pulled into a garage. 175 liters (at 7.03 per liter) later, we were on our way. At Last!

Oh come on! Do you think I'm writing to complain about a 10 minute stop at the garage? Remember Murphy?

When we made it back on the road, the first thing that happened was that we made a turn and started traveling in a part of town I had never seen before, and really didn't remember from my last trip. Could I not have noticed all these wonderful new buildings and shopping centers?

Roman Villas

No idea who this guy is.
Nope! Finally we did a 'U' turn off the main road, traveled up a side street and turned into a 'local bus' depot, where the driver pulled up, turned the engine off, got out of his seat, and left us to go to the Office. I don't know how long we were there, but certainly long enough for one male passenger to leave the bus and walk to the other end of the bus bays to go to the toilet. He made it back before the driver.

And then we were off!

Oh how nice to finally make the freeway. The trip on the freeway is really fast. My previous trip only took about one hour once we hit the freeway. Having started late, stopped for fuel and having stopped at a regular bus depot, we were now only about 20 plus minutes late getting onto the freeway.

When we hit the freeway I sent a message ahead to my friends to say that we were finally moving and that my new E.T.A. was 4.45pm. Well that was a stupid thing to do with Murphy looking over my shoulder. Our journey went fine until we reached the ZheJiang border toll gate crossing. That's when we came to a standstill. By 'we', I mean every blessed car wanting to cross.

People were getting out of their cars trying to see what the problem was. Of about 6 lanes of traffic, we were in the far left lane and I had a clear view of the toll gate ahead of us and NO ONE was going through. Everyone was just sitting there.

Beautiful scenery to accompany the 1.5-2million price tags for apartments

L'arc de triomphe
Eventually they opened up a laneway with no toll gate and we began to be re-routed only to come face to face with a makeshift toll gate with a security guard or policeman standing by.

I sent a message ahead to say that I was going to be even later yet and received as a reply, that if I did not arrive before 5.30pm I would miss the last local bus that would travel to where I had to go once I arrived in Jiaxing.

Well, as you can imagine, with the day getting away on us, when we did pull off the highway into town, we ran into peak hour traffic.

When I jumped out of the bus, I had 10 minutes to hightail it out front and get across the road to the bus stop. I made it with 5 minutes to spare. Not bad eh?

Well - yeah! Except that I REALLY needed to go the bathroom, was starving without an opportunity to stop and get something to eat, and - oh yeah! I didn't get time to buy the return tickets for my friend and me.

Check the Spelling

When the local bus pulled up at my destination, I got out and crossed the road and as I entered the complex, a taxi pulled up behind me. It was my friend from Chengdu. The friend who expected to arrive at the complex by 7.30pm had arrived at 6.30pm, right behind this writer who had originally expected to arrive at the complex at 4:45pm.

That my friends - is Murphy's Law!

It doesn't matter! It's not important! Do not worry! At least I had a great weekend!

Since I had not purchased return tickets for us to Suzhou on the Saturday, we did not return until the Sunday and on Sunday we did not travel to the 'North' Bus station in Jiaxing, but to the 'West' bus station. Oh my! How convenient. It was such a nice trip on the local bus to get there, and the trip from that bus station to the North Bus Station in Suzhou was really really fast.

French Architecture

The Roman Quarter in Jiaxing
The following weekend my Chinese friend returned for a visit and on the Sunday afternoon I saw him off from the North Railway Station in Suzhou and then ducked into the bus station to see how often buses run to the West bus station in Jiaxing. According to the board, all buses leaving from the North Station in Suzhou, travel to the West station in Jiaxing.

Two weeks later I decided to return to Jiaxing to take some photos. At the North Bus Station in Suzhou I bought my ticket and while waiting for the bus, noticed that my destination in Jiaxing was the 'Central' bus station. When I arrived, I was totally lost and had to call my friends and ask them how to get to their place.

When I left them, I decided to travel via the 'West' bus station. Bidding my friends farewell, I hopped on a local bus to the West station but when I arrived was told that that station was now closed and that all buses now leave from the 'Central' bus station, and so I had to take a courtesy bus to that station, and in the process, proved once again, that in China, once you know exactly where to go, what to do, and how to do it, they change everything!

And that my friends, is Murphy's Law.

R.P. BenDedek

R.P.BenDedek (pseudonym) is the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' ( ), and is a guest columnist and stand-in Editor at Magic City Morning Star News. An Australian, he has been teaching Conversational English in China since 2003.

Writers Journal Kingscalendar

"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.

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