Biking by the River

28 Aug

So Roya learned to ride her bike without training wheels last spring when she saw a younger friend doing it and quickly learned on her smaller bike (gotta love how you try to encourage, coax, guide your child and one time playing with a peer and they can suddenly do whatever you have tried to teach them for months ūüôā

Until now, Roya had been practicing her new skills biking around our former and new campuses (where there are few cars).  But this summer we bought both kids biking helmets in Canada and decided that Roya could cross a couple of streets to get to a nice bike/walking path along the river near our new home.

Well, it was quite the trip! ¬†We went in the middle of the day (NOT smart – it was close to 40 degrees). ¬†Not surprisingly, there was NO ONE else on the path. (It’ not that we thought biking at 11am was a great idea, it’s just that it took that long to get out of the house and we didn’t want to wait until late afternoon.)¬†¬†There were two paths, a lower one right by the river with more trees but a stinky smell of the river (sorry to say) or the upper one parallel to the sidewalk but higher with a nice view, no smell but few trees. ¬†Well, we chose the tree-lined lower one without hesitation.

Nap time for the workers.

Well, if you can get over the heat, it is quite interesting biking at that time of day. ¬†For example, we passed several bridges along the way and saw the workers working around the area having their midday nap. ¬†They would lie on their little bamboo mat or any other thing around. ¬†I even saw one lying on the handles of several shovels – impressive balancing. ¬†(Didn’t want to be too obnoxious with the picture taking so you will have to use your imagination.)

Back to work

On the way back home, all the workers were back hard at work. ¬†That brings us to the amazing feat that Roya accomplished that day. ¬†Since we were exploring, we just kept going and going and going… suddenly it was 1pm, two hours later, and we had run out of water and stamina. ¬†Peiman started going up to the street level to scout out a lunch location. ¬†Well, everything just looked residential. ¬†Finally we asked one man where to go up and eat and he pointed us to some stairs by a bridge. ¬†Well, it is not easy to get back up to the street and the few places where they have a ramp were long gone. ¬†So we dragged our bikes up a couple of flights of stairs and went in search of a place to eat. ¬†It was at that point that I suddenly felt completely drained – like I would faint at any time from heat stroke and dehydration. ¬†Roya was getting pretty weak too but she hung in there. ¬†Thank God we only had to walk for five to ten minutes before we found a restaurant.

Playing with the owner’s little doggy.

As soon as we entered the little neighbourhood restaurant, we had the owner and two waitresses serving us. ¬†Not atypical for foreigners, esp. in a place which no doubt rarely (if ever) sees some. ¬†So we set out trying to order which is always a challenge. ¬†People from the neighbouring table also got involved, recommending dishes. ¬†Luckily there were a few pictures on the wall so between that and walking around and pointing out tasty looking dishes on other people’s tables (not so polite perhaps but very practical) and our broken Chinese (we know how to say the names of various meats and our few favourite vegetables but can’t understand when they say how they are prepared so it’s always a surprise when our food comes), we managed to order reasonably good food. ¬†The owner was very friendly and attentive and when we were full, the kids played with her little 2 month old puppy.

Cute little foot bridge

Then it was time to get home.  The bike trip back went faster and this time we biked along the top, which not only eliminated the bad smell but also saved us the pain of occasionally having to lift our bikes up stair obstructions.  For example, when we got to this cute foot bridge (one of many but too low to allow people to pass under), we had to climb up stairs to the top, then down again on the other side.  That time, we also explored to see if we wanted to bike along the other side (which wisely did not do as later we saw several places where there were obstructions we would have had to get around on that side) and all the exploring took time which we saved going back.

Interesting contrast of nature and high rise.

After lunch, it was less sunny so there was no need for the shade we had taken advantage of on the way there. ¬†So we biked along happily when we noticed a few drops of water here and there. ¬†Peiman, who was lying down on a bench for a little rest thought it was “tree sap” but I asked how that could be when it was also falling where there were not trees. ¬†Still, it was odd since there were certainly no rain clouds in the sky. ¬†We were still not used to this new phenomenon of rain before clouds. ¬†A few days earlier, we were at home and I heard what sounded like thunder. ¬†Peiman didn’t believe me but after a few more thunders, we went outside to remove the loads of hanging laundry (from our mold washing days) as the weather changed from sunny to cloudy to pouring rain within minutes. ¬†Well, this time, we the rain took about 15 minutes to come and luckily we made it home literally one minute before the downpour began.

My little endurance girl!

All in all, Roya biked for 3 1/2 hours that day – no small feat indeed! ¬†And she hardly complained – she has really built up her stamina over the past few years, being able to climb tall mountains and now going for long bike rides. ¬†Unfortunately, our next bike ride will have to wait as both kids’ bikes were stolen the day after this outing, while locked up in the bike parking area in front of our apartment. Sadly this is one of the realities of life in China and the major crime one encounters here.


2 Responses to “Biking by the River”

  1. Leah August 28, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    Way to go, Roya! That sounds like quite the adventure. I can’t believe the bikes were stolen, though! That’s terrible!

  2. Janna August 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    i love reading your blog! I can’t wait to move to China ūüôā

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