Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Cycling out of Beijing Airport to Shenyang

21 April 2011

A Multimode Adventure in China

7am in Beijing, it’s a clear chilly morning and I’ve been travelling for16 hours. My body clock thinks it’s 11pm. I could stay in the airport for 3 hours and take a local flight to my destination in Shenyang 430 miles to the north-east but when planning the trip I decided that a 20 mile bike ride and a train to Shenyang would probably be better for my general wellbeing. (more…)

No go in Kuala Lumpur

22 November 2009

Having overcome my doubts about Seoul, a month later I went to Kuala Lumpur. I made an overnight stop in KL in 2003 on my way to Japan on my first Brompton trip but I left the bike at the airport. Taking a walk from my hotel to the nearby twin towers I was struck by the brutality of the traffic, crossing the 6-lane main road meant a brisk jog to get across before the lights changed and I had no illusions that the Grand Prix would hold back on my account.


Brompton in Seoul – First Impressions

25 October 2009

A grid of 6-lane boulevards, a reputation for undisciplined driving, day long traffic jams, a newly rich country with a thriving car industry, very few people using bicycles for everyday transport…not promising?

cargo bike 1000px

So don’t read the guidebooks, ignore the gloomy reports, instead look at what’s actually happening on the streets. (more…)

Anarcho-Communalism in Hangzhou

25 October 2009

Originally posted to the Bromptontalk Forum on 2 November 2008, this follows on from my recent post Brompton in Beijing and is a more reflective account of some of the things I observed there.

Junction in Hangzhou

Here’s the second instalment of my travels in China. It’s a phenomenological account (which implies that you may have a different experience or theory but this description is valid for me. I didn’t take the Brompton to Hangzhou as it was a quick one night trip with hand luggage.

Picture this.

Two 6-lane highways cross, forming a huge square, A bewildering array of traffic lights control the prodigious flow of trucks, buses and cars, The air is warm and humid with a damp mist limiting visibility to around 100metres. There is a light but persistent rain, the road is slick.


Brompton in Beijing

25 October 2009

This was originally posted to the Bromptontalk forum on 30 October 2008.  I have given a more reflective account of the experience of urban cycling in two Chinese cities in a second post called “Anarcho-Communalism in Hangzhou“.

Brompton n cargo trike

A very satisfying Brompton experience in Beijing.

I had to make a visit some distance from the city centre and my Chinese colleagues were insistent that it’s not feasible by bike, last night coming a similar distance by taxi one of them pointed out how big and intimidating some of the main road junctions were, she rides a bike short distances in the suburbs.


Hebrides: Day 7

22 February 2009

Oban sunset by Anthea Fraser Gupta (click for more of her work)

On my seventh and last day the weather turned. I managed to get my tent packed away reasonably dry and set off towards a western sky that showed successive waves of rain cloud and brightness rolling in from the Atlantic.


Hebrides: Day 6

22 February 2009

hebrides6Camas Nan Geall to Loch na Keal

On the morning of the sixth day I heaved my loaded bike up the steep track onto the main road and headed towards Kilchoan and the ferry for Mull. The road looped inland to avoid the precipitous coastline of Ben Hiant and, although it looked like a challenge on the map, it proved to be a comfortable steady climb followed by a long downhill. I stopped briefly to fish out my wraparound sunglasses for the descent (the wind under my normal glasses makes my eyes water) and found myself talking to a man who used to be the telephone repairman for that district but was now retired and on his way to do some maintenance at a holiday cottage.


Hebrides: Day 5

21 February 2009

hebrides5Back of Keppoch to Camas Nan Geall

The fifth day was as fine and sunny as the fourth. I had been attacked by two small but very aggressive dogs in the lane the night before, and sure enough they were waiting for my return. Chasing bikes was obviously their main interest and, having experienced before how aggressive and undeterred a group of dogs can become when they have their attacking spirits roused, I was a little worried that I could get a bad bite on the ankle and ruin my trip.


Hebrides: Day 3

19 February 2009

hebrides3Lochmaddy – Broadford

The third day was a Saturday and my intention had been to take the ferry from Uist to Harris and cycle to Tarbert for the ferry to Uig on the isle of Skye. However I was still uncertain about whether I could manage the whole route I had set myself and the ferry from Lochmaddy to Uig was waiting overnight for a 9am departure so I decided on a shortcut. I was also influenced by the fact that there were no ferries on a Sunday from Calvinist Harris so if I were delayed on the Saturday I would be set back by 24 hours.



17 February 2009

londonerTo get to Japan it was necessary to cycle across Central London, from St Pancras station in the Northeast to Paddington Station in the West. Cycling in London used to be an activity for battle scarred cycle couriers and adrenaline junkies who didn’t mind mixing it with the traffic. To survive you had to be very assertive and prepared to break a few traffic laws.