High Price of Sunday Driving

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHNNY REED LETTER FROM SHANGHAI

ANCIENT and modern coexist quite happily in Shanghai. Take the new car owner. One of the first trips is often to the nearest temple. There, for a price, the monks will provide celestial cover against the uncertainties of the road network.

A 10-monk ceremony costs around [pounds sterling]400, which is not bad if it works.

Driving a car in Shanghai is certainly not for the faint hearted.

The roads are packed, the parking opportunities patchy and traffic regulations loosely interpreted.

There are far less stressful means of transport.

But Shanghai has taken to the car with enthusiasm. Rising disposable incomes have made owning a car a possibility for many. Over the past 10 years, private-car ownership has grown from some 4200 in 1997 to over 1.2 million.

But buying a car is not the whole story. You can't actually use it until you have licence plates. …