Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Sunday, August 31, 2014

First morning in China (Heifei)

Got in late so had the good fortune to get some sleep in an upscale hotel . Later this morning will get driven to Tongling.
I amused myself on the 11 hour flight yesterday by watching the multilingual inflight movies. I watched nearly all of La Grand Boucle, a French slapstick comedy about a bike store clerk who accidentally rides the Tour de France route and becomes a folk hero. I had to watch in French with Mandarin subtitles, as no English version. Just over 1 year ago I was looking at the Annecy TDF stage setup, with all the inflatable starting ramps, barricades to prevent the crowds colliding with the peleton,and exquisite alpine scenery all around. What a difference a year makes.
9 floors below, in the wide street between buildings, I can just make out a guy on a bike with a big cargo rack on the back, going about his business on a weekday morning.
I'm sort of curious to learn about the state of China's bike culture these days.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

China research

Laughable I know, but I'm studying 2 books from the wonderful Seattle Public Library. One a memoir from about 10 years ago, the other The Rough Guide to China. I am taking my Lonely Planet guide with me. It gives me something to start with. I use books from both famous adventure travel presses whenever I travel abroad. Coincidentally, In 2011 I met a retired British man in the Adelaide YHA. He told me his son is a writer for LP's China book. Sort of a small world at times.
I leave on Saturday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Something new in Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park

I haven't ridden along downtown waterfront since spring, so this addition is an arresting sight. No sign with caption to identify it, as far as I could see, so it must be a brand new installation. Generally I avoid this popular route in summer as it's crazy busy with out-of-town pedestrians who suddenly step in front of the bike, plus out-of-control toddlers in pedal cars that are guaranteed to turn right into you, so you have little choice but to go over your handlebars and crash to avoid killing both sets of obstacles.
Still, on this "bluest blue you've ever seen" day in Seattle it was fun.
This is the last time I'll be riding in Seattle until 2015. I'm off to China next month to teach English. This time, my suitcase will carry teaching swag, not a bike. But perhaps I'll get to rent some wheels once I've settled into my new digs. Once upon a time the #1 transportation device was the bicycle. Given all the tales I've heard of persistent air pollution, maybe one day they'll be smart and go back.
Since 2010, I've had the opportunity to travel outside the US every year. This teaching gig wasn't something I knew about until mid-July, so the decision to head out has been a lot faster than I usually like. Chances like this are "once in a blue moon" events. I reinvented myself as an English language teacher so that I had options to combine biking and meaningful work for which there's near term sustainable demand. Check, check. I sincerely hope it's a wonderful trip where I acquaint myself with the real China, teach some smart teens, and learn enough Mandarin to be able to get around with grace and confidence.
Access to the internet will take figuring out, plus I'll be working 5 days. No worries. My blog will continue.