The life and times of an expat in Nanning

Nanning bicycle ride pt.1

a bike ride
It was warm out in spite of everything being wet from the earlier rain. It was misty in fact, the air felt and smelled for that matter, like the exhaust from a dryer. It was thick, heavy, and warm, typical for this part of China. Oh well, he thought getting on his bicycle, I need the exercise and it is better than it has been lately. Slowly riding between the buildings toward the entrance of the apartment complex where he lived with his wife Yirun and her daughter, he decided it felt good to be out again. Nodding hello to the old man, who sits at the entrance guarding against some unseen menace, he merges into the human river of pedestrians, scooters, and bicycles known as WanZhou Lu BeiErLi, which is just another side street in Nanning, a city that has miles and miles of winding, twisting streets.
Never understanding why the old men sit there but sit there they do. A group of five or six, a different one every day and night, twenty-four hours a day they sit there watching people come and go. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends and family, most of them friendly or appear to be, considering he does not speak Chinese and only one or two of the “guards” could or would say “Hello” in English. Even though he has lived here for over a year, most people still stare at him, some smile, some don’t, such is life. Maybe they are as impatient as Yirun wanting him to learn speak Chinese but are too polite to say anything, not that he would understand if they did say something. Although, they have never been shy about mentioning to Yirun his strange foreign ways. Like not wearing a coat when the temperature dropped to 65 or going bike riding at 5:00 am, which they think is too early to be safe. Just to keep peace in the world he had stopped the early rides but still refuses to wear a coat.
Turning South on WanZhou Lu, weaving in and out of the flow of traffic he decides to cut through the market thinking that with the damp weather there should not be too many people. Turning onto Beihu LuDong he quickly grabs the hand brakes, avoiding the old woman standing in the road, and the truck coming from the other direction that cuts across the lane to make a left turn. Swerving around and in between, thinking that he really should get the brakes adjusted; he continues not thinking twice about the near disaster. After all, it is just another day of bike riding here in Nanning.
Turning into the market that is nothing more than an alley lined with poultry, fish, vegetable and fruit vendors, he realizes right away that there is more people than expected. Again gripping the brakes frantically he avoids ramming into several shoppers, a couple of scooters and a car, that are blocking the entrance to the market. Thinking to himself that he needs to find a different route someday, half riding half walking his bicycle he negotiates his way into the mass of people filling the alley/market.
Where the roads are river of people, the market is a flood. The alley that makes up the market is barely wide enough for a car yet some people still insist on driving down it regardless of the masses that occupy it. There are dozens of people on foot, bicycles, scooters etc. in various stages of motion going in various directions, most seemingly oblivious to the chaos around them. As always, he is amazed nobody gets ran over, even more amazed that he does not run over someone or get ran over himself. Regardless of the seemingly chaos going on everyone is going about their business buying or selling or just making their way through to get somewhere else.

Author: | March 9th, 2011 | Posted in , ,

7 Responses to Nanning bicycle ride pt.1

  1. says:

    Great writing! You paint a perfect picture and lead us through a Chinese experience. Thanks! I feel like I took a short trip, I’m warm and sweltering. Which for an Olympia resident right now, feels great!

    Be careful on those streets and continue to get home safe so you can write more of these!

  2. says:

    The standard “good-bye” here is “good-bye my (husband, father, uncle) have fun, be careful”

  3. Lisa Strange says:

    thanks for the link, Earnie! I’m at the library using their computers so I don’t have time to read all of it right now, but as soon as my internet gets turned back on at home (slight cash-flow problem at the moment) I know I will enjoy this. I love the layout and the photos! Looking forward to reading more! And you have inspired me, like I said. I have been doing some writing and I think it is time for me to have a new blog as well. So glad to hear you are happy.

  4. Well done your report of Nanning’s life. A british friend of us shares your interesting document relative to the green city of Gangxhi. In 2006, I visited a chinese girl met on the net, and maried her in 2006 in Nanning. I was “tofuized” felt in love with Chinese people, and life, so weel introduced in her family and friends. Nanning is really a pleasant place, at human size, not touristic interest, but not so far from Guilin or sea side as Beihai. Presently, we live in Var, south east France, and plan to fly back Nanning end of this year for 6/7 months all going well.
    Could meet you if any interest from yourself.
    Keep posted.
    Rgds, Juan and Jean-Bernard.

  5. Ernie says:

    Hello Juan and Jean-Bernard

    Thanks for the comment. I need to continue working on this site and get it updated.

    You are right the people and the city is great.


    • Hi Ernie !
      Many tks for your mail. You seems to be “Woodstock festival” generation and we like it ! I’m 63 years old duly educated with sixties songs, Beatles, Rolling stones, the more famous and other blues great singers, I suppose you love it ! I hope to be back to Nanning end of this year, but my wife loves Var life, quite chilled to be back China, keep you posted next developments. Hope to meet you next opportunity.
      Best rgds, and God save the prince !

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