There are many wonders, smells, and buildings that define Beijing and none more so than the following urban sights and food. But, to see all that you need to see you can’t do it by subway, taxi, or rickshaw, you have to bike it. It’s the fastest way to get across town and if the distance is to far, park the bike at the subway for a few pennies. If you get a flat, stop at the roadside bike repair guy.
Beijing is a bikers dream if you are savvy enough to work around the crowds and traffic and ever since the 2008 Olympics there are public bathrooms everywhere. Every road has a bike lane on either side again watch out for the occasional small car using the bike lanes.
These are our trusty steeds, the typical working mans bicycle, gangly, heavy, single speed dependable tanks on two wheels. Beijing is flat so no need for gears although mountain bikes are starting to make a big showing.
Best part of the trip is getting lost in ancient, centuries old Chinese neighborhoods called “Hontongs”. You have to get here before the city swallows them up because development has become their cancer.
The narrow alleyways and maze of these neighborhoods take you back to the way it was. We happened to get lost in a few.
We left the comforts of our modern hotel to experience the old China court room home turned into a bed and breakfast located down a narrow Hontong alleyway the taxi driver would not venture down.
“Get out here.” The taxi driver said.
“But where is our hotel?” I asked. “Why don’t you take us down the street?”
“Street to narrow. Walk down there.” He pointed to this alleyway.
Take note of this laundry, we will get back to this place in a moment.
We finally come to our hotel, circa 1920’s, it is quaint, clean, great staff, and actually quite a nice place, and I loved it.
So funny thing happened on the way to the laundry. By day this establishment cleans clothes and does dry cleaning, but by night the proprietor hangs out a different shingle. I told my girlfriend “we better check our clothes when we get back.”
One of our first meals and for some reason the Chinese like the head served with the entrée, we experienced many meals with heads.
Next Tiananmen Square