Sunday, May 9, 2010


Several months ago, shortly after I had bought my bike here in China, I regretted not having spent more and gotten a multi-speed bike. Since going downtown from my school is a 5 km affair, I figured having a multi-speed bike would speed things up nicely.

I secretly told myself that I wouldn't mind if my bike got stolen so that I could splurge and get a new one. However, after 19 months in China, it was never lost... until now.

Thursday evening I rode my bicycle to Web (the English training center that I work at part-time) and parked it near the exit of the grocery store in the center of town, since I had a few things (like milk) that I needed to pick up before I went home. However, my plans changed because my American co-worker at Web, Brandon, would be leaving China in a few days. I decided to go out with him and have a few drinks. Afterward, I decided to go back directly and took a cab home.

The next day I went to work at Web again, but took the bus to downtown since I didn't have my bike. Now at that point, it IS possible that my bicycle was still there, but I neglected to check. Anyhow, after work he and I and a few others again went out.

When I went into town on Saturday to finally get my needed groceries, I found that my bike was gone. At first, I had looked in the wrong place, as I don't usually park outside the exit of the grocery store, but near the office building Web is in. But after tracing my steps, I went back to where it should've been, but still (maybe still isn't the right word... again? actually?) my bicycle was lost.

So, in total, my bike was out in public for at least two nights. I shouldn't have been as careless as I had been. I had occasionally left it out for one night before and hadn't lost it. But on those occasions I had parked it in a somewhat more secure area. That's what I should've done Thursday night once I realized I wouldn't be riding it home.

In any case, with just under two months left, I can't NOT have a bike, so now I'm gonna have to go buy a new one. The only other ways to get around are buses and taxis.

Taxis would actually be a reasonable option (for two months) since the taxis here aren't terribly expensive (basically anywhere from $1 to $2 per trip depending on where I'm leaving from or going to). The problem is, my school is just on the outside of town, and finding a taxi isn't a very reliable proposition. Often the only way you can get a taxi leaving the school is to take one that had just dropped some returning students off.

The buses are more regular, but the problem with them is that it's not so convenient. If I need to go to the center of the city (where Web is) and I take a bus, I need to allow about 35-40 minutes, because of walking to the bus stop, waiting for the bus (hoping I won't JUST miss one), going through traffic, taking an indirect route, and stopping at several stops in between. Conversely, riding my bike I can make it from my front door to web in 18-20 minutes (depending on traffic lights). Furthermore the buses stop running at 9 pm, so the evenings I work at Web, I'd have to catch a cab home anyway.

But truth be told, perhaps the most significant reason I need a bicycle from where I'm living is this: The distance from my apartment door to the front gate of my school is about 0.65 km (about 0.4 miles). And that's if you wanted to catch a cab. For the bus stop the total is about 0.9 km (about 0.55 miles). Now I have to traverse this strip at least twice if not several times daily and if I had to walk it each and every time... It's not that I'm lazy; it's that I'm impatient. I'd get sick of wasting nearly ten minutes retreading this path so many times every single day. With a bike, even if I wanted to take a taxi someplace, I could at least hop on the bike and and park it at the front gate with the guards.

Anyhow, I don't want spend a whole lot of money on a new bike because I'll just leave it or give it to someone after two months, but on the other hand, it's just WAY too inconvenient for me to not have it. And I don't want to buy a cheap one and have to suffer it for two months.

A new bike will run me about $50 American, so it's not like I am going in to financial straits because of it... just not a wad of money I want to spend on something that I will be getting rid of two months later.

On a lighter note, a student sent me an instant message today, just wanting to practice his English. However, at the time he was chatting with me I had gotten up to make a sandwich. During that time, because I hadn't responded to his message, he guessed I was busy and typed, "Your excellency is very busy?"

Haha, now he just wanted to use a respectful address, and the equivalent translation of "your excellency" (阁下 ge2 xia4) in Chinese can be used to show respect with teachers, but he wasn't aware of the formality or "royal" tone of it. I told him "sir" would be just fine.