South Africans Richard and Thamar Clark are cycling beyond the Great Wall of China through Tibet, Nepal and on to India where they’ll bring their tour to a close in Mumbai.
Despite uncomfortable conditions, they’ve survived their very first day on the bikes in China, where the Beijing winter is in full force.
Here’s a taste of what was in store for the pair after they touched down at the international airport and set off cycling in one of the world’s busiest cities:
With minimal Chinese language at our disposal we landed at Beijing International and found ourselves fumbling for train tickets and trying to get two oversized boxes with our bicycles in onto the express train headed for Dongzhimen near to the Hutong Inn which we’d booked at.
Once we arrived at the train station we put the bikes together as quickly as we could with some very official looking security peering at us curiously. Thankfully they were only helpful. In the subway it felt cold but by the time we eventually got out of the subway and up onto the street the sun had gone down and the temperature had plummeted to minus 10, which neither of us were quite ready for.
The traffic in the city was manic! There might have been some sort of order to it but to us it was as if we were caught in the middle of a video game trying to dodge people, bicycles, buses and scooters from all directions.
It was dark, we were freezing, and we had no bearings. After a few back and forths, speaking to people in broken English or in Tham’s case broken Chinese, we got the general gist of where we needed to go. Looking back what might have confused people was that the name of the hotel we were looking for was the same as the district’s old-style alleyways called Hutongs – and so there could have been dozens. And even though Tham had the English map and address on her phone nobody could read it.
Things will surely look up once the duo hits the countryside.
This beautifully-designed blog promises to be fun to follow. Get on board now and take a trip Beyond the Wall with Richard and Thamar and find out what adventures come their way as they cycle to India.
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