Asia | China | Beijing – Anniversaries and Adversities – the Beijing Bike Theft
Marking a few anniversaries, and being a bike theft victim, I’m a little bummed out here in Beijing. On the anniversary of my mother’s death, the bike theft is an inconvenient loss of steel, foam, and rubber. I’ll get a new one. Obviously, I couldn’t do that with my mother, and I think of her often as I’m travelling around the world on this trip of a lifetime. I’m doing one of the things I’ve always wanted to do, and I think she’d approve. My mother, Marie, loved travelling, and even here in Beijing, I look up at the Hyatt hotel and remember that she stayed there. I remember picking her up at the airport in Vancouver on her return, seeing she was bandaged up around the eye, bruised and quite purple.
“Oh my God Mom! What happened to you?????”
“It doesn’t look bad. Everyone said it looks fine.”
I rolled my eyes and said “Mom. They’re being nice. C’mon.”
She had fallen down at the Beijing Zoo, just turning around – something that’s so easy to do when you’re travelling. Your head and your eyes are up in the air looking all around you, and boom – out goes the sidewalk from under you. It’s happened to me a few times – thankfully without anything more than a sore ankle for a few days. That fall didn’t daunt her spirit for travelling though just like a bike theft is not going to ruin my year.
After that, I think my mom went to South East Asia, South America, and back to Europe again – mostly on cruise ships, because that’s what she liked to do: unpack once – and be done with it. I can relate. It gets tiring living out of a suitcase, backpack, or bikebag sometimes.
Anyway Mom – I lit a candle for you in Notre Dame and St. Marie’s in Paris. Hope your big cruise ship in the sky is still sailing the calm seas.
Back in Beijing, the earlier arrival on another anniversary – my birth, was a pleasant 26 km cycle into town. A parallel road to the freeway runs right into central Beijing, so I quickly stopped cursing myself for failing to read the website that tells you how to get into and out of town by bicycle. Beijing itself is a little disorienting, so I didn’t find the hotel I wanted, but did get myself settled for the night without too much trouble.
The next day, it was a visit to the Lama Temple and then dealing with some of the business of travelling. The Lama Temple is one of the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Temples here in Beijing – completely made of wood and crowded with people that one guidebook calls “China’s Supernova” – the domestic tourists. The following day, I got up for the sunrise flag raising at Ti’An Amen Square, but was quite bagged after that, so didn’t do much for the rest of the day, except do some cruising around the narrow winding alleys of Beijing’s Hutongs.
Yesterday was a visit to the Forbidden City, and I just stopped myself in time from dressing up as the Emperor and having a picture taken. (Sorry Chris – I know you would have liked a shot like that). The Forbidden City is under extensive renovation, and many national treasures are undergoing some kind of sprucing up as the National Day/Week of holidays is coming up October 1st. I’m sure that (and the bike)will impact on my plans somewhat. The most shocking thing about the Forbidden City? Starbucks is there. Inside. Really. I’m not kidding. I had a Caramel Macchiatto. Welcome to the new China.
Today, I filed a police report which is an experience in itself. The hotel had apologized, made me a VIP (as if I was ever going to stay there again), and gave me 120 RMB’s as a small compensation for losing my bike. Better than nothing for a 6000 RMB bike. The taxi dropped me off at the wrong police station, so the chief office had a couple of the other policemen help me with my bags to the right place. No they don’t speak Emglish amd No, I don’t speak Chinese. But – ‘I’ have a book that includes the phrase “they took my…”.
“Point to “They took my…”
Flip the pages to “bicycle” and point.
And with much international gesture:
“Yes the thief sawed through the bike rack it was locked to”
“No. I don’t expect you to find it.” I just want you to know about it.”
Then I went to my new hotel and the Palace of Heaven. The Palace of Heaven is where the old Emperors and high priests would pray for a good harvest, before tilling the first row of soil and planting the first seeds of the season. It’s a beautiful building and I’ll try and post some pictures in the coming weeks.
Last words – do not even attempt to travel independently in China without a phrasebook. The only place you will be fine is Tianamen square where there are loads of young people looking to practice their English.