Road trip to China

Are drivers in the world’s oldest civilization as crazy as us? (Yes!)

David Matthews / December 03, 2018
David Matthews

A bridge too far

One of the biggest events in China this fall was the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, so named after the three major cities in China’s Pearl River Delta which the bridge connects.

The 34-mile-long structure took nine years and $20 billion to complete, and now holds the title of World’s Longest Sea Bridge.

It also may be the world’s most difficult bridge to use.

In order to drive on the bridge, you need to obtain a special permit and carry insurance that is valid in all three of the cities connected by the bridge.

Reports indicate that permits are only granted to people who pay a lot of taxes in China, donate significant sums to mainland charities, or belong to certain political groups.

If you aren’t a VIP, your options for crossing are limited to a private coach or shuttle, or a private hired car, all of which are specially licensed.

Those allowed to drive on the bridge are required to wear heart and blood pressure monitors, which are tracked by workers in the bridge’s control center.

And on top of all that, the bridge has “yawn cams” that will alert staff if a driver yawns more than three times in a 20-second period while crossing the bridge.

Time for change

A former bus driver in Tongren City may not be wealthy enough to drive on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, but he did manage to buy a new luxury car with pocket change.

Throughout his career, the man had collected coins, squirreling them away in the hopes of one day saving enough to buy his dream car.

That day finally arrived when the man saw a new $70,000 BMW that really tickled his fancy.

With the help of his buddies, he spent four days counting his coins to see if he had enough.

Then rather than exchanging the coins at the bank for a less cumbersome form of payment, he just loaded them into his pick-up truck and headed straight to the dealership.

The BMW sales team was delighted to hear that the man was ready to pay cash for a new car­—until, that is, they saw the 1-ton cargo of coins that he intended to pay with.

The dealership called in its own buddies—11 bankers—to help verify the value of the man’s 150,000 coins.

Ten hours later, the man’s payment was approved, and he proudly drove away a happy (and lighter) customer.

Falling flat

Buying a BMW with a truckful of coins is pretty flashy, but nothing like the new viral trend on Chinese social media.

The “Flaunt Your Wealth Challenge” has inspired young people to post photos of themselves dressed in designer clothes, posing as if they have just fallen face-first onto the ground out of a luxury car.

Positioned around them on the pavement are their most expensive possessions—from high-end shoes, designer bags and sunglasses, to skin care products, makeup and electronics—as if they also came spilling out of the car.

It sounds absurd, but this “challenge” has generated more than one million posts in just the past two months.

Can’t buy me love

A wealthy Chinese gentleman didn’t need social media to flaunt his wealth in a very public way.

In a now-viral video taken in a busy public square, the man is seen standing with a crowd of friends and curious onlookers near a bright orange Lamborghini.

When his surprised girlfriend arrives on the scene, he hands her a generous bouquet of roses, showers her with petals and sets off a fireworks display. He then presents her with the expensive car and asks her to marry him.

It sounds like a fairy tale, but this love story has a surprise twist when the woman doesn’t answer, prompting the would-be groom to point to the Lamborghini and clarify, “I bought your favorite sports car for you!”

Finally she politely informs him, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to. I’m so sorry.”

Rather than walk away with a shred of dignity intact, the man continues proposing, yelling “I have money!”

The video ends with his now-ex-girlfriend replying, “So what if you have money?” before leaving the scene.

Looks like even in China, money can’t buy you love.

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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