Thursday, November 29, 2012

Myth #6: Main form of transportation is Bicycle

A big MYTH! This was an initial culture shock for me after stepping outside of the Airport.  I was surprised at the vast variety of luxury cars that were cruising the streets of Beijing. I mean, it wasn't like I was expecting everyone to be riding bikes everywhere, but I sure wasn't expecting an entourage of Audis, Cadillac, Mercedes, BMWs and practically almost every luxury car model in just one city. But then again, when I found out that about 20% (200,000 people) of the country's millionaire live in Beijing alone, this quickly made sense.
A bike parking lot at a major shopping center in Northwestern Beijing

May be if I had gone to the country about 30 years ago, then this would have been a FACT. However, the country is changing at almost the speed of light which makes most of the stereotypes we have about the country to be nothing more but stereotypes.
Liangmaqiao, Chaoyang. An affluent part of the city
To emphasize this myth, my very close Chinese friend and her boyfriend can't even ride a bike! I was shocked when she told me, because I thought EVERY local can ride a bike, since that was the main form of transportation back in the day. She then told me that she didn't need a bike since she is from a small town where everything was within a walking distance. However, someone from a big city like Beijing might need a bike.

Xidan; a major shopping district in Beijing

To add, people of all ages ride bikes to get around, I mean I was always surprised each time I saw seniors riding bikes around the city, especially when they have an 80 pound or heavier grandson/daughter siting at the back! And sometimes my jaw drops when I see a "poor" senior with a tonne of stuff stacked sky high on his/her tricycle.

Talk about overload!

To conclude, I believe the major form of transportation in a big city like Beijing is the Subway!

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