After knocking out my first of three comprehensive examinations, it was time to let off some steam. The exam had gone well, the day was one of the year’s most beautiful yet, and the idea of renting a bike for the afternoon seemed far too appealing.
So that’s exactly what I did. Along with the company of trusty roommate Alex Roche, we packed ourselves each a book bag with some water and laundry to drop off along the way. Just up past the beach behind our school are a bunch of bike rental shops. Its really funny, whereas two, three, and even four seater bicycles are seldom scene in the States, the Chinese love to make a day out biking and do it together. Bikers were out all along the seaside and I’m convinced that it was probably a 50/50 split on normal bikes vs multiple seating bikes. One of the highlights had to have been when I was biking along on my mountain bike and passed what turned out to be 3 smiling monks all peddling along on one bike.
When I rented the bike, I knew in my mind where I wanted to go. I wanted to be riding right up along the sea and beachfront. The only way to do this would be to use the boardwalk that goes for miles resting between outdoor, umbrella-filled cafes and the water.
With a few annoying stairs up and down now and then, the boardwalk was clearly not designed with a biker in mind. In fact, about halfway through our trek we came across a sign specifically stating that bikes weren’t to be used. Oops. While all the tourists road along the safe bike path, briefly glimpsing the water from time to time, Alex and I were riding nearly on top of the water and, on a few instances, through the beach and water itself. It was a much more satisfying experience and I’m glad we took the initiative to do it right. No worries, no one got upset with us. At most, we had some lightly entertained crowds at a few seaside joints watching us struggle to make our way through some tight spots between large, rocky cliffs and the ocean.
It was a beautiful day on a beautiful island. I also recently went to the major bookstore around here and was able to come across a few good looking books that revolve around Xiamen. One is written by a Professor who has been living here for the past 30 years or so, so I’m sure that one has a wealth of information. The other is written completely in Chinese, but has some beautiful, full color pictures that will also be good for sharing back home. See you all soon!