How a Flying Pigeon Saved My Life

5 09 2010

Over a bowl of pho a few weeks back, two good friends sat me down (both of whom have awesome blogs here and here) and gave me a piece of advice that I didn’t take until not but yesterday. The one thing that you first notice in Beijing is how ungodly difficult it is to travel from one place to another. Walking gets you nowhere (beijing block=2.5 normal people blocks), taxi-ing in traffic is ungodly frustrating and expensive, and rush hour subway is usually an all you can grope buffet. So the solution?

Meet the Flying Pigeon. There are three fabled bicycles in China lore: The Phoenix (Fenghua), Forever (Yongjiu), and the Flying Pigeon (Fei Ge). Yes, I could’ve gotten a snazzy little whippersnapper bike with all the fancy trimmings for half the price. But this beautiful piece of machinery is a relic from a the past, one in beautiful condition mind you. As Deng Xiaoping once said, “A flying pigeon for every household!” That’s how awesome this thing is. Everything from the heavy frame to the shock absorbent seating makes it such an enjoyable experience. And hold on to your pantsuit, because my god can it fly. Ben rides a Phoenix, and together, we’ve been stopped on the street by pretty much everyone on the street who happened to be alive during the cultural revolution. Nods of approval and the occasional storytelling moment only reassure me that this might be the greatest machine I’ve ever owned (what about it iphone?)

A few observations about bicycling in Beijing:

1.) The name of the game is ALERT. All senses are working as one to make sure you dont get steamrolled by a coal truck. Looking both ways just simply wont do. Is that the smell of exhaust I smell wafting from behind me? Yeah, its the giant BMW SUV that wishes to consume you. Is that the jinglejangle of the fish monger bike I hear to my right? Pump your brakes lest you want to smell like a fish monger.

2.)  As Ben so rightfully said, “You really have to deal with your sense of mortality pretty quickly.” Truer words have never been spoken. Hesitation really could mean the difference between safe passage and a face full of car door. With that having been said, boldness must be tempered, because cutting off a bus on a bike will only work but a few times.

3.) The little bike bell really really doesn’t work. Its tinny ring just doesn’t clear the crowd of people just randomly standing in the bike lane. What does work? A friend of mine has developed a tried and true method of just yelling hello as loud as she can. I’ve also found that screaming the opening verse to Welcome to the Jungle to be effective.

The impetus behind this purchase was because of the growingly intense effort to find an apartment here in Beijing. It really sucks. Ben and I have probably spent an accumulated…12 hours over the weekend apartment hunting, with a lot learned, but little to show for. Trying to balance comfort and convenience with authenticity and cultural flavor is difficult, as they either lead to awesome neighborhoods with shitty living conditions (Russian ghetto!?) or vice versa. I’m confident we’ll find the right balance eventually, but until then…

Advertisements

Actions

Information

8 responses

5 09 2010
Confused LaoWai

Hahaha, just had the image of foreigner riding down a crowded street singing the opening verse to Welcome to the Jungle, and boy was it a good image, haha!
Good luck apartment hunting.

5 09 2010
Yang

how in the world did you get an antique feige! i looked everywhere and had to settle for a new fenghuang.

5 09 2010
5 09 2010
benjaminjaminja

no close up shot of butterfly basket?

@Rick re: fixies and bicycle aficionados in beijing, huge event here last month http://www.beijingfg.com/

6 09 2010
Li Li

Such a 老坦克!!!

7 09 2010
Gang

Loved biking in Beijing. It is much safer than biking in the Have.

Also, the scream is definitely the best bell.

10 09 2010
erinreiss

those shots are beautiful dude

21 12 2010
Finlanren

Cycling was the nicest way to experience Beijing, I went on for miles and miles, rather aimlessly. I have fond memories, wish I could have a holiday in Beijing soon, or better yet, a job

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: