Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea

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Day 261 (China): Beijing (looking back in Plan B)

Really, not much going on. I was busy all day long preparing the presentation that I was to give at Matthias’ bar - Plan B. If you are in Beijing, you should check it out. Good place. This being the last day, I finished packing up before heading to the Plan B. This and choosing the pictures took up most of the day.

At 8:30 pm we started out with what I had hoped would be brief, about an hour. But there were just too many pictures and so it took much longer. But people stayed on with a couple of exceptions. It was a fun crowd … though during the presentation and while preparing it, I was reminiscing about the trip a lot. But more about that at some other point. Doing the slide show was a lot of fun though.

I was interviewed by China Radio International following the presentation … and for those able to understand German, here is the link to the interview (note that Firefox 3.0 might not deliver the audio portion on the site, IE and Chrome seem to be doing the job).

And thanks to Matze for everything he has done in Beijing …

December 9, 2008   No Comments

Day 260 (China): Beijing (Forbidden City and trying to fit my life into a box)

A stroll into the Forbidden City they say is a must when you visit Beijing. They (who are they after all?) also say that you must visit the Great Wall. And I can see heads nodding in front of screens right now. But I have to disappoint some of you. It would have sure been pretty to see the Great Wall, but I decided that I would forgo the running around Beijing like crazy after this long trip and slash the trip to the Great Wall and take things easy.  Having said that however, the Forbidden City seemed like a good place to go. Especially after I had seen it from the hilltop to its immediate North. Its vastness is impressive and I did want to know what things would be like inside. Plus, it would give me the chance to see Tiananmen Square - which I wanted to see for obvious reasons. And this had nothing to do with its size, which is also impressive. But rather with events having taken place, say almost 20 years ago. On the brighter side of things, it also gave me a chance to snap the-picture-that-you-can’t-do-without:


And here is one without me in it …


The number of policemen is quite impressive here - these are only some of the guys that are visible. I am sure there are tons more that I have no clue about.


Here is where I met Jaakko, a Finish economist who had been working in Beijing on technology transfer and so we decided to tour the Forbidden City together. Its vastness that I could see from the top is equaled by an impressive inside. And all of this for one single person …

And there aren’t many hills, but the ones that are there - even these - you are not allowed to climb.

At night, it was all about packing up. I had intended for this to be a trial run, but in the end I decided that I would leave the bike in the box after all. It was all a very tight squeeze and I was about to give up at one point or rather at several points because it seemed that the box was simply too small, though I didn’t really think so. In the end, everything was fit into the box rather snugly. Which was good - because it means that things won’t move around all that much.


It was yet another step to wrap things up it seemed. An important one … and a bit sad.

December 8, 2008   No Comments

Day 259 (China): Beijing (art galleries … fun stuff)

Hm … so it was time to delve into a little part of the Beijing arts scene. I had heard about this area in Northeastern Beijing that I should visit, called 798. It is located on a former factory area part of which is still operating today. Imagine walking through a factory setting with steam spewing out at random places … I am sure some people (and particularly one Brussels reader of this blog) would have had a great time there.

Didn’t take too many pictures overall, but here are some:


The place also boasts some cats (of which I had seen surprisingly few in China I should say and I don’t think that the stories about pets and pots are correct).

And here is my personal favorite:

December 7, 2008   1 Comment

Day 258 (China): Beijing (more sightseeing, blueberry chips)

More sightseeing in the center of Beijing … including some of these critters. And no, I didn’t eat any of them.


This was in the center of the city, which looks pretty much like any other city that you can imagine with all the glitzy stores and fast food restaurants that you would imagine in a lot of other places around the world.

I took a look at the Forbidden City from a hilltop not far away - the whole of which is a non-smoking zone according to this map.

This is the view from the top - a full 360 panorama. The view is pretty amazing and you get a good glimpse of the Forbidden City itself.

And it’s nice to know that this particular camera store has some limited stock:

At night I did an interview on creativity with Veronika who had heard about my trip through Matthias. I will post a link to it once I have it.


And then this … Blueberry chips. What is going on in this world?

December 6, 2008   No Comments

Day 257 (China): Beijing (Summer Palace, ice and you)

Let me first say a big


After posting my arrival at the Yellow Sea, I have received messages from people far and wide. People I know and people I don’t know. People I was pretty sure followed the trip and people that I had no clue about or was certain they wouldn’t. It has been almost overwhelming and rather emotional to see how many people tagged along.

One reader has put up the virtual finish line with toilet paper, another would have given me a hug at the Yellow Sea, others find it hard to believe that they will no longer receive any messages (yes, all soap operas must come to an end) or pictures (I am working to not let you go cold turkey on that one), one reader has told me that he was inspired to do a bike trip from Gibraltar to St. Petersburg with his best friend in 2010 (sounds like a fantastic undertaking, is there space for one more?), others pinched me (and I still find it hard to believe that I covered the continent), I have been offered Brezels and Nutella when I land, countless have offered congratulations and many have wondered how difficult it will be to settle back into routine life (ouch).

A great deal of you have also wondered how my life will change through this trip. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. Time will tell I suppose, but a first crack at things may be this question: “Would you do the trip again?” “Oh yeah, any time!”

I did another trip today to the Summer Palace. It sure is a nice place even in winter time. And yes, this is ice:

More good food and securing a bike box for the return trip rounded out the day. And yes, lots of food. The amount of food I am putting in right now is pretty scary if you ask me.

December 5, 2008   No Comments