China Elevator Stories

A not-so-safe drive to the airport

Min takes me to the airport in Kunming.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


At the beginning of October 2013, I am in Kunming. It’s the last day of my travels and visiting friends in Yunnan and I have a flight later that day. Min, a friend of the friend I’m staying with, offers to take me to the airport by car. When it’s about time, we carry the luggage downstairs. Min is a woman in her early twenties. Her long hair is dyed in an intense red and she wears a bright blue mini-skirt combined with a black leather jacket.

Her newly bought second-hand car looks like an old street racing car, reminding me of the cars in movies of the 1990s.

All three of us get in the car, Min and my friend sit in the front, I sit in the back.

My friend has warned me that Min hasn’t been driving for a while. The road to the airport is not very crowded, and I figure it should be okay.

On the city highway, Min is passing by another car and cutting lanes without looking into the rear mirror even once. When we approach a red light, she doesn’t slow down. I shout out “red light”, but it’s already too late for her to slow down and stop. So she just crosses the red light full on.

When we are almost at the airport, there’s no other car in sight. We come to a crossing where driving straight is not allowed. When I realise that Min is going to drive straight into the one-way street anyways, I shout: “We can’t go straight, we have to go right!” 

When she realises a few seconds later that she’s driving against the traffic, it’s already too late. A single car going into the other direction is crossing our path – a police car at that. Luckily for us, the police officers don’t seem too bothered by Min driving against the traffic, and we make it to the airport without any harm (and without harming others).

Have you ever been in a similar situation?