Back In The Saddle Again & A Night At The Local
Trip Start Jan 01, 2005
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Bike riding huh!
Who ever thought I could have lasted nine months without a bike ride?
After killing two bikes and nearly riding myself in to the ground in Fujian Province I promised myself big long rest from the bike and to take it easy and walk for the year. It has never been easy and I guess it's been a lot like an alcoholic walking around tonguing for a beer while everyone around him is happily sinking a few coldies. It started off extremely hard and got a little easier but over the last several months I've been walking around and watching in despair as people rode on by me with a big happy smile on their faces and today it simply got too much. I think I was seriously doing well until I went on my walking adventure out to where the Silk Road began several weeks ago and on the way back into Xian I came across a bike store.
As hard as I tried I couldn't make it past the door.
There they were all gleaming and silently calling my name and right there and then I nearly caved in. Believe it or not, I actually did last nine months without setting a single foot on to loving peddle. It has probably been the hardest time I've had in many decades, especially since arriving in China four years ago. I first started 'riding' when I was aged ten or so when I began my first paper round. One paper round became two and soon I was completing two in the same time as my friends finished one. When I first moved out of home I took a few years off but then it began seeping into my blood again.
Why did I stop riding?
I guess because I never took a rest for too many years.
Every day teaching Primary School, for many hours dancing, singing, walking, running playing and on top of that yelling to allow up to eighty kids hear you. Then walking for an hour at lunch time and after school every night going for a two to three hour ride followed by weekend rides that lasted no less than five or six hours each day. Then add all that on top of my Beers N Noodles Adventures and walking six to eight hours a day. By the end of my time in Fujian my energy levels were so depleted that even teaching felt like hard work and when you love your job as much as I do then you know it is time for something to be put on the shelf for awhile.
So as hard as it was I decided that after I killed my second bike in Fujian I wouldn't buy a new one. That takes my bike telly to three in four years that haven't survived my time in their school. The poor buggers, I really do look after them but things just have a life span.
Tonight the Chinese English Teachers and I decided it was time for me to part with my cash and we went in search of a bike store, a task that was much harder than we expected. After about an hour we found one that had some actual real bikes in it. The bargaining lasted for well over half an hour but in the end I got the bike I wanted for ten Yuan more than I wanted to pay but hey, can't complain when he'd already gone down by nearly two hundred Yuan.
After thanking the girls for their help I set my foot upon peddle and off I went!
I simply followed my front wheel like I usually do and it took me along the river out to the western villages and then back riding through the villages at the foot of the southern mountains. I then headed north and up Pagoda Hill and out to the northern villages and back and around eight thirty I finally found myself back beneath the blanket of soft city lights.
Four hours after I handed over my cash I was carrying my bike up three flights of stairs!
So much for taking it easy.....to begin with anyhow.
What a beautiful feeling to feel so free.
So apart from my rekindled love affair with a set of peddles not much has been happening really. Luo Wei has been working seven days a week for the past nearly three weeks and the weather has been off and on. I've spent my weekends walking and have caught myself stopped in mid stride staring off into the distance wishing I had to time to walk out that far. Classes have been totally awesome and we have been having so much fun. Luo Wei was finally given a weekend last weekend so I headed back to Xian and we spent the weekend relaxing in the hotel room watching TV and talking. We headed across to what I call The Local a few times for a big meal and a few Jim Beams. The local is actually the Youth Hostel across the road. I've made quite a few friends there so it is good to catch up for a beer or two every now and then.
As for the near future.
One of my family's best friends arrived yesterday in Xian, his wife came a month ago and we will catch up this coming weekend. When I first came to China nine years ago I stayed with her family as she is a local Xian Girl who met a local Melbourne Man when she was visiting Australia many years ago. They were here nearly two years ago and I began my 2007 Summer Beers N Noodles Adventure with them in Xian and then Luoyang City. They then headed back to Xian and I headed further east to Kaifeng City where I first met my happy Peachy Squeeze Luo Wei.
She was walking on the opposite side of a busy road to me.
After our eyes locked we met somewhere in the middle and have been together ever since.
The weekend after next I will be finally catching up with my buddy Andrew who is not only a good friend but the guy who has been looking after my teeth since my early twenties. Over many years we developed a happy friendship and have kept in touch ever since I left that area of Victoria. His daughters have been learning Mandarin for many years and each year he brings his family across to China to allow them to spend a week or two in a 'real' Chinese school where they attend classes and catch up with friends from their previous visit.
Sadly though each past year I've been in a totally different part of China.
Happily this year I am teaching in the north and being only two hours away from Xian City we will finally catch up for those promised Beers N Noodles, a walk around the city and we will then head to the lovely Hua Shan (mountain) where thankfully due to time restrictions they will be taking the cable car to the top. I heard you all gasp but by then my legs will be so tired and jelly like after my first two weeks riding in nine months.
Believe me I think I will enjoy that cable car ride so much that I might even take it back down again.
Next month sometime I will also be clicking chopsticks and beers with my buddy Policeman Brad from Guangxi Province. For those of you who haven't been reading my blog since 'Way back When', Brad is probably my longest friend here in China and since I left Guangxi Province he has been looking after my beautiful dream bike. Costing around four times the amount of the bike I purchased today it is easiest the most awesome bike I have ever owned and probably ever will own when you compare the price of bikes here in China to those back in Australia.
For those of you who don't know who Brad is...he's kind of like a target!
Being a high ranking Drug Policeman who patrols the Laos/Vietnamese and Chinese borders he's been shot at quite a bit but he's also drank his fair share of safe beers with me back in the Tianyang Beers & Inners and Outters BBQ Area. I must admit that when we took off for our Vietnam/China Border Beers N Noodles Adventure back in 2006 I was a little worried to begin with, I found myself thinking, bloody hell what if someone recognises him. The only trouble we did run into was the fact that he could barely understand anyone around him and they him so I had to play charades on many occasions to find somewhere to stay for the night.
Down there not many people speak Mandarin.
Nor do they speak any of the local dialects from around the Tianyang town /Baise City area.
So, Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!
Poor Luo Wei is going to be so totally surrounded by fast talkers that her head will spin.
Strangely though she has never had a problem with me talking at my normal fast Australian pace yet when she talks to Americans or some Canadians she seems to have a real problem with the slowness of their accents. Even stranger though is the fact that it has always been this way so it isn't that she has become used to my fast Aussie Accent.
I've never understood how it can be this way.
Shouldn't it actually be the opposite way around?
Or shouldn't it have been that way when we first met?
Beers N Noodles toya.....shane
The soundtrack to this entry was by the first lady of Song!
The lady who could out swing anyone at the time.
The lovely Ella Fitzgerald.
The album was 'Gold'.