21 Apr 2014

On your bike -in China.

Whilst in Yangshou two weeks ago I hired a bike and with the local guide set off out into the country.The bike was a "sit up and beg" model.Nothing flash- no gears-and no helmet for me but it was easy to ride.Which was just as well as we rode straight into the traffic on the main street and then into a large roundabout.One of the scariest things I have done for a long time.
Chinese traffic is chaotic-totally undisciplined and often downright frightening.There are motorscooters and bikes everywhere.Buses and trucks pass very close to you.Cars pull in and out right in front of you.A car will pull in and stop dead a metre in front of you.No trafficators -no warning.And then the driver will open the door without looking.Yet  despite all the chaos there is a calm acceptance by all the road users that this is the prevailing condition.No harsh words - well not that I saw-no rude gestures and no road rage.Just a "well this is how it is and I will work with it" attitude by everyone on the road.Which is just as well.
On the way back into town I stopped and took the photo showing the traffic on part of the main street and that really is the back of a Range Rover Evoque.There are so many of them there.Jaguar Land Rover sold over 90,000 vehicles in China last year - an extraordinary number.Going in the opposite direction and just visible is a farmer's very primitive 3 wheeled cart/truck powered by a small motor over the front wheel.A country of total contrasts.
After we cleared the city traffic on the way out we had about 2 kms along a highway which was under reconstruction with enormous dump trucks passing very close and then we were out on back tracks in quite beautiful countryside for about an hour.Then back on a main highway at a big tourist spot where dozens of young Chinese on bikes were enjoying the sunshine.They hire their bikes in town including the tandems -one is in the photo below-which they take their girlfriends on for a ride out to this local beauty spot beside the river.It is all very gentil and to my eyes rather charming.
Some photos from the ride.One taken by the guide-the others by me-all on the X1.

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