Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Posts from — December 2008

Days 254 and 255 (China): daze in and of Beijing

I will fold these two days into one as there wasn’t much going on. I still felt dazed and tried to understand how large this city was and that I was no in Beijing. And the smog that was hanging over the city didn’t help to lift the daze in my head.

I am staying in Matthias’s (K.) room, who is living with another Matthias (B.). Matthias K. is in Japan right now and so has graciously invited me to stay in his place for the time I am here still. This turned out to be great. Instead of sitting in a hotel with its likely sterile surroundings, I am in a comfy place not far from the university both Matthiases attend. Which I visited on my first day and then just lunged around for the next couple of days. And ate good food which is the plan for the next days. Why wait to put some more weight on … the food here is great and lots of different food to be discovered.

Really, the only thing of note was that on day 255 I was sitting in front of the computer and finally wrote up my day of arrival and saw how that smog was literally blown away by a strong Western wind. Blue skies started to emerge and I saw the mountains marking the Western edge of Beijing.

Matthias K. also left a copy of his book for me - and since Christmas time is approaching and some of you might still be looking for a Christmas present, here is a suggestion:


Title: Ganz Woanders: Vier Jahre in Beijing

Co-authors: Matthias Kluckert and Thomas Tang

It’s a book filled with stories of a Chinese and a German student who arrive in Beijing at roughly the same time and describe their last four years in this city through their own eyes. It’s a great read …

December 3, 2008   1 Comment

Day 253 (China): busing to Beijing (no, no, no, no … )

It is time to head home. This will take a while, but Ganyu didn’t seem to hold a lot of promise, so I decided that I would make a beeline for Beijing. Or at least get underway and would see where I would end up at the end of the day.

The hotel staff pointed into two different directions when I asked for the bus stations. Slight contradiction, one was pointing North, the other put the finger to the South. I followed the latter … and was wrong. A few people and about 6km later I was at the bus station and found out that I would have to go to Lianyungang, 50km to the South in order to catch a bus to Beijing. Alright … give me a ticket.

The bike was not welcome. I figured as much given the size of the bus. But I was also determined to get to Lianyungang and put the bike into the hold over the objection of the bus driver. It all went well, but it was the typical “No, the bike can not go in here”. Creating facts seemed to help. Then they tried to charge me double for the bike. When I asked for a receipt, the driver ambled away.

In Lianyungang I was glad that I had not pointed my wheels there the day prior. Funny thing … we circled the city like crazy before pulling into a tiny bus station and needless to say it wasn’t the right one. And needless to say we didn’t stop at the big bus station. Really that logic beats me.

Once at the right bus station, the whole game started over. “No, you can not take the bike into the bus”. “Yes, we can.” A long and arduous discussion started. I left the bike in the luggage department after another “No, you can not leave it here” and “It will cost money to put it into the bus” and the like.

Then, on to the check-in. The bus driver shook his head when he saw the bike and I nodded. He shook his head. I nodded. Then, more and more people came and took a look at the bike. More headshaking and it seemed I was the only one who seemed to think that we would put it into the bus. I thought it may be a small bus, but then the big kahuna of the bus station came around and we lugged the bike to the bus and I started laughing. This thing was gigantic. Easy enough. Took the front wheel off, said that I was from Germany, lots of Kahn, Ballack and so on were shouted and the no’s turned to yes, we can. “You have to pay money” “Can you give me a receipt” …

And then we were on the way. I wasn’t doing well on the trip … my body rebeled over the added driving and I was pretty much in a daze for the entire trip. And my stomach was unhappy again. What started at 1pm ended in Beijing at 2am and I didn’t sleep really ever. And didn’t realize that we were in Beijing. Only after a bit of asking did they tell me that this was Beijing … this small backalley place that I was at. One phone call later we had things figured out and I was on my way to Matthias’ place who was kind enough to guide the cab driver to his place across town. It took about 20 minutes on completely deserted roads.

Funnily enough, the scenery made me melancholic again. It might have had to do with the fact that I knew that things would be OK now. I was on home stretch and cruising along one ringroad after another I had to pinch myself again to understand that I was now in Beijing. Matthias and I packed my stuff into their apartment and I was slumbering off at 4am finally. There wasn’t much in the way of deep thoughts about the trip today. Just dazed like I said. I am sure that will wear off over the next days.

“There are nine million bicycles in Beijing” or so the song goes … well, now there is one more.

Sorry, no pictures today …

December 2, 2008   No Comments