At a distance the villages are particularly picturesque with their red Fushun Vacations -mud walls topped by straw from which grows a profusion of green weeds. Roofs are Fushun Vacations thatched and houses have rounded gables (like Dutch gables). In the lush rice valleys the air rang with the croaking of bullfrogs. Rice paddies were bordered by decorative plants which define the scalloped shapes of the hillside paddies. I enjoyed the way they fitted together like a jigsaw with oddshaped pieces to fill in any gaps. The decorative edges are useful nitrogenous plants that revitalise the soil; though the farmers don’t know this, they plant them because it is the custom.
Yet, with a few notable exceptions (Edensor 2003; Bull 2004; Sheller 2004; Thrift 2004), the experience of driving (or being driven) is primarily discussed as a visual experience. Anne Friedberg argues that the automobile is a viewing machine, and links driving to other forms of spectatorship in cinema and television (2002: 184; see also Morse 1998). This myopic view echoes the dominance of visuality in urban studies and modernity (Jay 1994), and neglects the embodied practices of driving. As a social, sensory and kinaesthetic experience, driving is somatic:
What urban driving produces, therefore, is an experience ofvisual signs and signals, but also of time, hearing, smelling, judging space and size, danger, impatience and frustration.