Day 4. Cycling Around Beijing
With the bikes assembled, it was time to check our equipment by doing a quick tour of Beijing and along the way see some of the sights.
A lazy morning and breakfast for everyone - we didn't hit the
streets until after 11am, by which time the sun was beating down
quite hard. We'd checked the 5 day forecast just to see
what's in store for us; 30, 28, 29, 26 and raining, 29. Not
bad at all.
[Putting our bicycles together]
With a small map to go by, our first mission of the day was to
see some of Beijing and also find some new eye glasses for
You really can't understand the scale of Beijing until you start
to cycle its streets. The length and width of boulevards is
awesome, and the scale on the map pales in comparison to the scale
of the city. What we thought would take 10 minutes to cover,
ended up eatign up almost an hour.
Once you come to terms with the size of the place, the number of
cars and commuters, both bicycles and scooters, smaller details
start to filter through. Like the fact that Beijing is
actually quite a clean city. Petrol scooters are not allowed,
and have instead been replaced by electric. I would have
liked to have been here before the 2008 Olympic games just to have
a mental picture of the before and after images of the city.
I know from friends and some background reading that many things
have changed. Many people were relocated to make room for the
Olympic venues, new roads built, new train system, and the
pollution levels brought in line with that of western
countries. I'm guessing that many older cars and petrol
scooters were simply removed from the roads.
[Cycling Around Beijing]
I must admit that cycling in Beijing, a city where everyone is
aware of the flow of traffic, feels very relaxing. To the
untrained eye the streets might look chaotic, but everyone just
seems to merge and move along without a problem or incident.
When cycling amongst thousands of other two wheeled vehicles you
feel a part of a larger organism, which is hard to explain to a
Some of the construction projects and buildings are absolutely
gargantuan. Weirdly shaped skyscrapers line the boulevards,
some obviously better designed than others; we saw one skyscraper
that looked as though it had caught fire recently.
[Beijing Modern Architecture]
After getting David's glasses we rode towards The Forbidden City
- but since they wouldn't let us take the bicycles inside we
decided to give it a miss. I've seen loads of pictures of the
gardens and structures, and really wasn't in the mood for it.
From there we went up towards Tiananmen Square where in 1989 a
single man carrying his daily groceries stood up to a tank and
showed a country and indeed the world that one person can make a
[60th Anniversary of The People's Republic of China - Tiananmen
We rode around the whole square and I looked at all the people,
the lanes and tried to picture the tanks and that one individual
standing in their path. No matter where you find yourself in
the square, you can't miss the massive mural of Chairman Mao.
[Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square]
We cycled around some more, trying to find somewhere decent to
sit down for a meal, in the end we settled on a small restaurant
not far from the lake near the hotel.