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The Devil's in the Details for Your Ticket to Ride
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A 100-question knowledge test is the foreigner's gateway to a Chinese driver's license, but the all-important paperwork needs to be in order. The checklist includes: passport; residency permit, original driver's license, license translated into Chinese, medical certificate, and five photographs.


Get the photos first. I went to the hospital for my medical certificate first only to be sent away to get the photos. The 2.5cm X 2.5cm happy snaps must have white backgrounds. I chose blue, but this was a time-wasting mistake. Also take note of photo size. This is not passport size: It is smaller. Got this wrong too.


Take one picture to a hospital or doctor for the medical certificate. The eye chart features the capital Es in different sizes and positions on different lines. The color vision test involves distinguishing between green and red within mosaic patterns. This costs 70 yuan ($9.3).


The next step is the foreign office of the branch of the traffic administration department of the public security. I booked my test and had two weeks to study the road rules. The rules book cannot be purchased at this office. The only place in Beijing to buy the 150-yuan ($20) exam reference manual is the FESCO office in the Beijing CBD. It has 1,000 questions about laws, signs, highway driving, penalties, accident procedures, license details, safety, first aid and guidelines for civil behavior.


There are questions like this:


When other drivers correct you, you should: (a) learn modestly and accept the opinion seriously; (b) not listen, and (c) accept but not try to improve. (Answer: a)


Another example: For an open abdominal wound, such as protrusion of the small intestine tube, you: (a) put it back; (b) no treatment, (c) not put it back, but cover it with a bowl or jar, and bind it with a cloth belt. (Answer c)


The 45-minute multiple-choice, computer test is straightforward. If you fail the first time (need to score 90/100), which I did, you can redo the test a week later.


(China Daily September 14, 2007)


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