In 2008 I had a bicycle in China. I had gone alone to a bicycle shop near the small Trust Mart in Jiefung Lu (there are two Trust Marts and they are both on Jiefung Lu - one in the centre of the city which is big - and this one, further along near a canal which was smaller and generally easier to access!)
I'd looked at the bikes in the supermarkets, but chose to go to a shop, where I did a bit of haggling with the Chinese shop owner, much to the amusement of the locals. I duly paid him the cash, he fixed the seat to make it comfortable and when we were both happy, I rode the bike back to the university. It was quite alarming as it was late afternoon and the traffic was building up, but I managed to ride without any dramas!
The bike and I went on many adventures over the following months, and when I left, I gave the keys to the locks to one of the other teachers and left it behind to have its own adventures with whoever wanted to ride it.
It was a sad and rusted machine when I returned in 2010, but by then I'd become fascinated with e-bikes, which were in all shapes and sizes. I wanted one that looked a little like a bicycle rather than a scooter, and I set off on a hilarious adventure to find the bike that suited me.
Other teachers advised me, and I went to several shops. Most wanted to sell me something bigger and more expensive than I had planned, so I just kept looking. I had been told about a shop not far from the campus and one rainy day I caught No 2 bus expecting to reach my destination. There had been road words at one end of Jiefung Lu, and the bus route for weeks had gone via another road, the one the bike shop was on. It was a Sunday, and I was shocked when the bus did not take the expected route, and went another direction as the Jiefung Lu intersection was suitable for traffic.
I walked back from the city in the pouring ran trying to find my way back to the road where the bike shop was, but in the rain, somehow I missed the turn off, and ended up back at campus without a bike.
The following day I set off again after classes. By then another place had been suggested, so I set off on foot and did quite a bit of research as I walked from shop to shop looking at their wares. Eventually I reached the shop I'd been seeking the day before and found exactly what I was looking for. My students are in awe at times as I happily manage to negotiate without any English. It is surprising what one can do with hand signals, facial expressions, and a sense of humour. In the end I happily negotiated a price, and was soon practicing riding it on the footpath in front of the shop. I handed over my money and with not a lot of confidence road it back to the campus. I had asked for a purple one. "Mayo" No. So it was a pink one!
How I loved my e-bike. The e-bike and I had many adventures. It was perfect. Never did I have a problem with it. I could power up the battery through my kitchen window, and ride off to where ever I needed to go. I wished I had bought it earlier instead of procrastinating the way I did.
I didn't need to ride into the city - it was safer to go by bus, but I managed to ride along the canals, around the near suburb, certainly around the campus, to TESCO supermarket and other destinations nearby.
The road traffic is chaotic nearer the centre of the city - I didn't need to take any risks. I managed to dodge the strange traffic on the Ring Road, and I enjoyed my travels. In the end I sold it.