In waiting for the bus, check first what buses you can take to reach your destination. Chances are the one you think you can take has already retired for the day so check the bus schedule signs. Once you’ve determined what buses you can take, stand about one bus length back from the front of the bus stop. Why? Chances are the bus you want will not be the first to arrive in a string of buses that arrive together. Your goal is to be the first one to get on the bus, no matter how many people are waiting. When you spot a bus that you can take in the distance, calculate where it will stop. When it does stop, run, yes run to the bus shoving anyone or anything out of your way to get the door. Watch for bicycles that will be speeding the past the bus in between the curb and the bus. They will floor you if you get hit by one.
If you reach the bus, push. The bus will be full. The doors will be open for a slight second. Bus drivers must open the doors per their job requirements (which are connected to a GPS system linked into bus computer so bus bosses know). If you can, immediately put your fare into the container. This ensures that you will be on the bus. You can always argue that since you’ve paid, you must be allowed on the bus.
Next, calculate how many stops there are before getting off. This determines how far you need to push inside the bus to get to the back door. The back door is the only option to get off the bus. If you reach the back door too soon, you’ll be pushed into the cramped space in the back of the bus. If you don’t reach the back door soon enough, yo won’t get off. The idea is that every stop, some people get off, so you can push your way back a little bit.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the full body contact, you’re probably doing fine. As a foreigner, you will be taller than most of the riders on the bus, so grasp for the high bar with few people holding it. The lower grips will be fully used and sweaty. Position yourself with footing as well. Old Chinese ladies will box you out like Yao Ming, leaving you no choice but to fall over every time the bus grinds to a halt. Position your feet wisely.
When you reach the door before your stop, there will be others behind you pushing you to get off before the bus stops. Simply yell at them that you too are getting off. They will try to push past you. You can let them push past, or not. You’re all getting off anyway.
When you get off, look to your right to make sure you aren’t going to get run over by bicycle, motorbike, or car. Plug your ears and nose as the bus speeds away. The annoying sound asking you to be “safe” exiting the bus will still be blaring and the noxious fumes will surely leave you light headed.
That’s how to survive the Hangzhou Rush Hour Bus.
Picture of the Day: At Taiwan’s Alishan, the foggy forest in the back trails, about as far from rush hour as one can imagine.