Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Red bikes

Flag of China  , Zhejiang Sheng,
Sunday, August 28, 2011

After 2 days of barely leaving the hood, due to tired feet and rain, the sun came out and my feet felt like walkin'. So I walked to my bench on 3rd street,  did some people watching and contemplated where to go.   Decided to hike to the local coffee shop and bakery where I enjoyed an excellent 85 cent cup of cafe Americano and some weird sweet bread thing with ham and what I thought was cream cheese on the top.  After tasting it I realized that it was mayonnaise! "Ok" taste buds were thinking...."what the hell is this"? very strange for something as sweet as this,  yet it was decent tasting.  Hung out there for 30 minutes watching another Chinese lady dote on her prize little obnoxious 4 year old boy (they seem a little too proud of their little boys.  They love the girls too but they don't seem to spoil them as much).

     Then I went to the big bus stop next to the "Wu-Mart" store and found the elusive "red bike" stand that I heard about. Found that Xiasha's red bikes were not beat up piles of crap like the ones near West Lake.   Nice to glide effortlessly mile after mile of Xiasha's nice, wide, uncrowded streets, taking mental notes of places to return to and shops I plan to visit.   I was mainly looking for the "Giant" brand bike store,  but found the Yamaha E-bike store instead.   There was a very large model that I really like and depending on my heart exam tomorrow,  I will seriously consider getting it.  Then I will have the freedom to explore the countryside,  the farmers fields,  the tidal flats where the river meets the bay and all kinds of interesting places.   I really want a pedal bike too,  but I want a traditional old Chinese bike known as a "flying pigeon" (see picture below) which they still make here in China,  but I will have to special order it.  The cost is a mere $80.

 The "Flying Pigeon" was partially designed by Chairman Mao back in the 50's for affordable "Peoples Transportation":  More Flying Pigeons were built than any bike in the world....ever.   One factory in Tianjin still makes them and they are virtually unchanged.   China does have hundreds of modern bike factories but they still make the Pigeons the old way and an old factory,  with very little regard to quality control from what I hear.   But once you get them set up correctly,  they will last a long time,  mainly since they contain about 50 pounds of metal!  Change the tires and a few other parts before you use it and you should be alright from what I read.

  I believe I mentioned that Hangzhou only allows "E-Bikes" or electric bikes in the city limits since Hangzhou wants to be the "Green City" of China.   Most Chinese cities are choked with smoke chuffing two-stroke motor scooters and rickshaws,  but not HZ!   If they could only get rid of the thousands of cars they will really have something to brag about.  Hangzhou is truly a special city.  It was the capital of the Song Dynasty hundreds of years ago which was one of the 7 Great Capital Cities of China.   And much of that Song Dynasty stuff can be seen around the ancient "West Lake" which I can't seem to shut up about.
    After two hours of some well needed exercise I put the bike back on it's locking post and walked the 1/2 mile back home.  Since I had nothing to do I perused my favorite humor website. Sometimes when I get bored with nothing to do I get on a humor website known as "Cracked" it's not a waste of time like other humor sites because it often has amazing facts about History, Science, and other fascinating subjects then points out logical conclusions in a very sarcastic and hilarious sort of way.  Like pointing out that the Black Plague wiped out so much of the population that it practically ended the feudal system and give rise to the Renaissance.  Excellent site,  I highly recommend it:  Took a nap for a couple hours and listened to the rain gently falling outside my window.

Getting a bit late now so I'm trying to psyche myself out to walk out into the busy world and get some dinner.   Thank goodness "Dinner" is only about 2 bucks.  The downside is that everyone in the restaurant will be staring at me,   I won't be able to figure out what to order,  I'll have to climb down and up 5 flights of stairs to get back home,  and the food will be marginal at best.
I plan on cooking more but I need reasons to leave the apartment every now and then.   Being pointed at,  laughed at and stared at is great,  when your in the mood for it.  Most really are happy to see you and mean nothing rude.   But ya have to be in the mood for it....  I do have a knack for forcing myself to be in the mood because no one likes a gloomy Laowai walking down their streets.  

Just returned from dinner and as luck would have it,  I found another teacher to accompany me, since people don't stare and point as much when two Laowai are walking down the road.   Another good thing about going with someone else is that you can go to a nice restaurant and just split a few dishes.   Rather than eating alone in a tiny, hot, noodle stand,  two can go to a nice restaurant with AC for only about a dollar more.  Heck,  we only ordered three dishes and only ate about half of it.  Plus if you order three dishes your bound to like one of them.  I tried to order a beer but they served me the crappiest kind called "Cheer Day",   I politely let the waiter know that I wanted another brand and apparently confused him.  So he returns with another crappy "Cheer Day" beer but it was warm instead of cold.   I decided to quit while I was ahead and thanked him.

On the way back home I stopped off at the tiny store in the front room of the happy owners' apartment.  A store in area of 12' by 15' feet and has pretty much every thing you need.  The family and friends were partying around a mah jong table as usual and having a heck of a time.  Quite possibly the happiest people I've ever seen.   When I get reincarnated I hope I come back into a situation like this.   All 4 of them live in a space about 1/2 the size of my apartment and spend each evening playing and enjoying each others company.  When I came to the door the 50 year old mother, with 30 year old daughter on her back, just busted through the door laughing and nearly knocking me over!  Funny as heck!  They always laugh and smile when I come in and are genuinely happy to see me.   I try to do most of my business with them rather than the slightly cheaper big grocery chain.  

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JoAnne on

Nice-looking bike!

lexapplegate on

If it's any consolation, I get stared at here, too. Not laughed at, thank goodness, but definitely oogled... guess we Americans are somewhat of a novelty. AND people in other countries need to learn how to be DISCREET!

JoAnne on

As one who has lots of your writing, this series is your strongest by far. Guess it proves what I've always heard: "Write what you know." Or feel passionate about.

Tig on

Love your writing style; I can invision what you see and feel.

Rigby on

Love the blog. I feel like I'm getting a really good idea of what you are experiencing.

Robin on

Sounds like a nice family.

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