John bought a second-hand bicycle shortly after arriving in Wuxi and he loves zooming about on it. It uses it everyday to get to and from work; on days he isn’t working he suffers bicycle withdrawal symptoms (restlessness, involuntary leg movements etc.)
John is now convinced that I need my own bicycle. Really, I am very happy travelling by bus. I have a transportation card so most journeys cost about 1.2 RMB (12p) and the buses are pretty reliable. However, for the sake of marital harmony the other day I agreed to get a bike.
I wanted a second hand bike, so it wouldn’t look too attractive to would-be thieves, but we can’t find the used bicycle market in Wuxi. We know there is one, but due to all the building work ongoing for the new Metro system, when we follow directions given to us by ‘people in the know’ we just end up at a hole in the ground.
In the end, we went to a market attached to a branch of Carrefour in the city centre. There was a range of bike and e-bikes on offer, so after careful consideration we decided on the cheapest one in the shop. The sales assistant told us this bike was “bu hao (not good)”. I cynically assumed she just wanted us to buy a more expensive one, so I insisted we would take the cheap bike.
After a tentative start, my bike riding skills came back to me (it’s a bit like riding a bike..) and we set off in the direction of the park next to Lake Li. Travelling over the bridge I realised my pedal had fallen off. A piece of plastic that should hold it on had broken, so I had to pedal in a lop-sided way. I thought we could probably get it fixed at one of the many road-side bicycle repair places.
We travelled a bit further before I realised the front brake was broken. My new bike was falling apart! We were quite some way from home, so decided to cut our losses and abandon the bike by the side of the road. Someone would no doubt pick it up, patch it up and perhaps sell it on to another unsuspecting dupe.
As I boarded the bus for the journey home, I thought that my cheap bike was an expensive lesson in paying attention when the sales assistant says ‘bu hao’.