Trip Start Aug 05, 2011
101Trip End Oct 08, 2012
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What I did
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
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: http://www.cracked.com. 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.