Spring has sprung in Haiyang (remember, folks, it’s pronounced “Haiyung”)! What does that mean for us? Well, obviously, it means warmer weather is here — minus a brief mix-up from the weather gods last week in which an evening rain turned into snow, making April 19th the latest “winter” day I’ve ever experienced.
It also means new modes of transportation for us and thus freedom. As you may recall, one of our pet peeves of living in the sticks of China is the serious lack of wheels, making us always dependent on taxis and company provided shuttle buses. This has been frustrating. On more than one occasion, I’ve felt like an animal trapped in a cage. But in the warmer months, I doubt I’ll experience this feeling, for we are now the proud owners of a scooter. Shi, wo keyi kai zhuliche (yes, I can drive a scooter). Iggy had been scouring the motorcycle shops of Haiyang for the past month until he found the right model at the right price (which got even more right when we took our friend and chief Chinese negotiator, WK, to actually purchase the thing). With some insight from me, we decided against a kick-ass dirt bike that would have allowed us to fly down the bumpy dirt paths that connect the small farming villages around the expat village. Instead, we settled on a gas scooter that could fit us both comfortably and had enough storage to pick up a bag or two of groceries.
I know what you are thinking — that driving in China is dangerous and we shouldn’t be out on the open road. That’s probably putting it mildly and it’s a fair point. But we have these super safe helmets that have absolutely zero padding which were given to us for FREE, so there is no need to worry, family and friends. In all seriousness, we plan on using our scooter to do just that — scoot around our little area, which means driving into the beach town, Feng Cheng, located about 10 minutes from us. Maybe once we purchase real helmets that meet U.S. safety regulations and become more experienced at dodging scary Chinese drivers, we’ll head into the more bustling Haiyang. Besides, that definitely won’t happen until we’ve surpassed the 1,500 km mark because until then, we have to keep the speed under 40km. For those of you who have no sense of how fast that is, it’s about 25 mph. Hello speed racer!
We didn’t just stop with the scooter. We were greedy and also got ourselves some new bikes, which required less planning than the scooter. There are only three bike stores currently in Haiyang — Giant, Merida, and Wolf. We went with Merida. Price-wise it was the middle of the road option and several other expats had already purchased their bikes there. Although the other expats didn’t have WK with them, who very sweetly coerced the shop owners into giving us some extra gear for free. I even got a basket added to mine and, no, I don’t care how uncool it looks if it lets me ride into Feng Cheng and grab some fresh veggies and fruit. Luckily, we were smart and brought legit bike helmets from home, so we didn’t get stuck with two more shitty helmets.
Now, I don’t want to be selfish, dear readers. What does spring in Haiyang and the fact that we have wheels mean for you? It means you will be privileged to a whole new view of “our” rural China. So sit back, relax, and await for some pretty cool photos and stories about life here.