The hives also arose from sitting too long, especially behind a desk. Three or four hours a day was the most I could manage, even if I wanted to sit longer (which I did not). Today was another with the same awareness. I had to get moving, in some way or another. A run and weights for an hour or so a day no longer did the trick.
So I decided the buy a bicycle. Not any bicycle, but a Brompton bicycle. I already had one, which I used for month-long tours in Europe, but I wanted one for China.
One of the paradoxes of all this time in China is that I had not ridden a bicycle here. Everywhere else in the world, I rode – all the time. But here, I had become accustomed to doing without. Today would rectify the situation.
‘Parkway Green’ was the place for the ‘Brompton Junction’ shop. To the east it was, somewhere in Chaoyang. The metro took me somewhere nearby, but Parkway Green itself was a bit of a walk. Eventually, I turned a corner and found it – a futuristic up-market shopping mall that one finds only in China. A sign, perhaps, that already the socialist market economy was leaping ahead.
I must have walked all of the floors before I finally found the shop at the basement level. Here I had to manage in Chinese, since the young man at the shop spoke very little English. We managed to agree on every item I wanted, so as to fit out the bike for touring. How long would it take? Two to three weeks, I thought I heard him say … only to find out later it would be two to three months! The bicycle had to be assembled to my specifications in England and shipped out.
The Brompton, I must admit, had become part of a plan to feel more at home in Beijing. I had already imagined rides to different parts, to the mountains west, perhaps to Shanghai and elsewhere.
But on returning home, I found a small surprise: I had walked 10 kilometres to find the shop and return home. The constant movement, the enhanced circulation, the focus on finding out where to go – all these seemed to ease the hives and my sickness of the soul.