Ode to Third Ring Road

with my hair slicked back so the girls can see

You can catch me on the Third Ring Road, zipping down the sideline on my




I’m on there enough to have found myself a little community, people who all come from different backgrounds but share one thing in common every time they slip onto the Third Ring from some obscure exit choked with weeds and construction site flotsam: they’re cruisin’.

They could be from anywhere: one of the buildings going up in the no-mans land between Chengdu and the countryside; some lonely car dealership frequented by the obnoxious rich; a country-style restaurant where they slave all day in front of a hot wok or between round, baijiu soaked Lazy Susans. But they’re all going to the same place, Home, so everyone has the same attitude: bout to be chillin.

Some have already eaten, so they take their time and let the wind and sun caress them a bit before they arrive at their destination. Others haven’t eaten yet, so they have the look of a hungry wolf loping determinedly behind their prey.

There are some characters I see all the time and they’re my people. Here is a short list of my favorite Third Ring Homies:

The construction workers rolling doubled-up bumping 1980s Chinese rock music out of their jerry-rigged moped speakers. I always give these cats the nod-smile to let them know I like their style and they always reciprocate, because like I said, we all on the same train.

There are some pimps on this train. Like the young cat with spiked hair and Top Gun shades flying down the lane on his tricked out 250. He is expressionless until he glances my way and I give him the game-peeps-game look and then he smiles wide, before he remembers who he is, and puts his pimp face back on.

Or the older cat on his Jialing 250 shirt open to the wind and a smoke dangling as he leans back into it, his red helmet cocked just right while he hits the lights like he’s using the Force.

as she flies on by

Or Down Lo Ho, the local boss who just don’t give a funk, strolling down the middle of the moped lane with a Hong Tai Shan twixt his lips and his belly flopped out.

Or my personal favorite, the sexiest woman you’ve ever seen, skirt hiked up and hair flowing free, make you feel real good because she manages to give you the Eye as she flies on by.

I see 三轮 and motor bikes and motor cycles and bicycles and trash-heap rickshaws and meat wagons on this road and everyone slides in and out of position properly, shows respect when they pass and looks each other over in a friendly type of way at the few lights we encounter.

It only lasts for a few minutes, this chilled out cruise on the pimp train, surrounded by the force with our bellies flopped out as we fly on by…



Sascha Matuszak
Sascha Matuszak

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