I could start by writing about the negative experience Tom and I had in one of our last hotels but I find focusing on the positives seems to help the kilometers tick over quicker so I want to take a minute two write about two wonderful experiences the team has had with complete strangers of nations from the both east and west.
After a day wrought with bike problems, Tom with a flat tire, Katie with brake fluid issues, and me with a complete front tire blow out, we found ourselves yet again getting the crap beaten out of us by the weather. Nothing says “go back to your own country” like a thunder and lightning storm with winds strong enough to just about knock us all off our bikes. So off to the side of the road we pulled huddling for any shelter we could beside what looked like a closed trucker restaurant. To our surprise a Chinese lady opened the door and motioned for us to come in despite the fact that we were dripping head to toe and had mud all over shoes. She then had us sit down and proceeded to give us all soft drinks. Of course any verbal communication other than being able to say what country we were from was out of the question but with a few drawings of stick figures (we are getting good at these) we were able to explain to some degree what we are doing. A couple of minutes later out comes a camera for a photo to remember the moment. She then motioned for me to come to her room, (her husband still in bed) put it on their computer and make it her desktop background. Her generosity will not be forgotten and goes down as a big highlight of the trip so far.
Our second encounter was with a very helpful expat named Nik. Coming into Beijing we weren’t exactly sure where the hostel “The Poachers Inn” was located. Dave had stayed there twice in the past but that was years ago. Dave was fortunate enough to meet a lady on the side of the street who had a tourist map (in Chinese) and gave it to us with a rough idea of where it was.
As we cycled closer to downtown Beijing (and closer to the hostels area) we decided to approach a foreigner skipping the language barrier. As luck would have it we picked the right one. Nik, a local expat who has worked here in Beijing for 6 years now knew exactly where we needed to go and was kind enough lead us there on his electric scooter. He then stuck around for a cold one at the restaurant & bar right beside the hostel (which serves delicious brick oven pizza) and let us pick his brain about China and also provide us with valuable information about the area we are staying in.
To top it off he has offered to loan us his English/Chinese GPS for the duration of our time here which should take a bunch of guess work out of how far the next town is saving us valuable time trying to decipher Chinese maps.
We all thank you Nik and look forward to catching up with you later in the week.