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Old 12-10-11, 03:08 PM   #1
BengeBoy 
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Hi, again. I'm moving to China.

[May 20, 2012 update - this is an update to a post from December - scroll to post 22 for update]

As you can tell by my post count, I used to hang out here a lot but have not been around much lately because there's been a lot of other stuff going on in my life.

Just wanted to pop in to let you know I'm moving to Beijing, China, early in 2012. I figured this might be of some interested to 50+ types because some of you are retired, some are switching careers, some are looking for the next big adventure. For my family, getting to this age means that we will finally be empty nesters after this school year (youngest child graduates from high school in May), so it suddenly opened up new horizons for us. And there's a little bit of cycling content below --

I was asked by my current employer to move to China 4 years ago; I decided not to because we'd moved our kids several times when they were younger and we wanted to stay put until they were out of school. I was asked again last summer to think about it, and since then I've been working to hire a replacement, transition out of my current role, and figure out how to make it happen. Basic situation is that I'll split my time between the US and China starting in January, and then relocate full time in early summer 2012.

It's a "big adventure;" maybe our "last big adventure" as a family. This will be the 3rd time I've lived outside the U.S. for an extended period of time; I consider the previous 5 years I spent living abroad as one of the highlights of my life. We're going to keep our house here, so once I'm settled in Beijing my wife will "commute;" between Seattle and Beijing; hopefully our kids will get over to study and travel as much as possible. This is likely to be a two- or three-year assignment; I know from my past experiences abroad that the time will fly by in a flash.

As for cycling -- it's kind of a challenge. I went over to check things out earlier this year and kept a sharp eye out on the cycling scene. There is a lot of death-defying cycling that goes on in Beijing on a daily basis (crazy traffic), but also there appear to be a number of clubs that do more "enthusiast" type cycling out in the countryside on weekends. I've found at least one expat club that hires a van/driver each Saturday to haul club members and their bikes out to the countryside; apparently the riding is great.

Still not sure what to do: I have a "beater" bike I could take for bombing around town; I'm told that you only ride beaters around town because anything nice gets stolen. Am considering getting S&S couplers on one of my "good" bikes to use for weekend jaunts in the boonies; I could keep it in my apartment during the week (I've read, but can't confirm, that buying a "nice" bike in China is expensive -- there are a lot of cheap bikes around, of course, but for something up to "international" standards it's expensive to buy an export-quality bike. I stopped in one Dahon folding bicycle store in September, and saw that they had two "tiers" of bikes -- cheaper models with unrecognizable components for the local market, and then export-quality bikes with Shimano and SRAM components that were sold at about 5% to 10% above the prices I've seen in the USA).

On the other hand, not sure how much I would have time to cycle in any case. My own past experience as an expat is that you work super hard doing your job, and then when you are off it's a great time to aggressively explore everything your "new" host country has to offer. So as opposed to long weekends on a bike I can definitely see doing a lot of sightseeing and exploring. Not to mention the smog; I think the pollution in Beijing leads a lot of people to favor indoor vs. outdoor exercise.

I've enjoyed hanging out here in the past and will continue to try to stop by as time permits.

Best wishes to all for a great 2012.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 05-20-12 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 12-10-11, 03:33 PM   #2
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祝你幸运

I have looked at it as well recently and haven't completely ruled it out. Last I was there, the great firewall of China made internet access very poor and of course the pollution isn't great for an asthmatic. If I was to go, it would be a 10 year term and I am not ready for that.

That said, there are plenty of expats there and if you embrace change and adventure, you will enjoy it.

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Old 12-10-11, 03:41 PM   #3
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I've been working with Chinese manufacturers for the last six years, I'm based in Chicago.

It's a great adventure and a smart career move to go to China, IMO.

This touring American cyclist made it from Korea to India, If you ever get the itch for a long ride: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=8251&v=1iP
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Old 12-10-11, 04:32 PM   #4
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The internet is global and you will be joining the foreign based contingent that can bring a different perspective to 50+.

On the bike side--5 to 10% increase over US prices is not bad--We pay a lot more than that over here so stop grumbling--Just don't buy one of the "Old Style"--MADE IN HONG KONG bikes that I can remember from my UK Youth. (Hong Kong was the 50's equivalent of modern day WallyMart)
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Old 12-10-11, 04:42 PM   #5
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I've been working with Chinese manufacturers for the last six years, I'm based in Chicago.

It's a great adventure and a smart career move to go to China, IMO.

This touring American cyclist made it from Korea to India, If you ever get the itch for a long ride: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=8251&v=1iP
Can be, but not for everyone. I am on course right now with a Beijing based (Canadian expat) pilot. The company he works for has a one year average retention of expat pilots. Many are gone in months. My course mate has decided to make it his home, married a local, learning the language and raising a family there. He loves it, but by his own stats, he is one in ten. He is also buying all his electronics here to take back with him. Some items are exponentially more expensive. No doubt, China has a bright future, provided they can keep their rising labour costs and inflation in check.
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Old 12-10-11, 04:44 PM   #6
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The internet is global and you will be joining the foreign based contingent that can bring a different perspective to 50+.

On the bike side--5 to 10% increase over US prices is not bad--We pay a lot more than that over here so stop grumbling--Just don't buy one of the "Old Style"--MADE IN HONG KONG bikes that I can remember from my UK Youth. (Hong Kong was the 50's equivalent of modern day WallyMart)
It is, but it is monitored and filtered, thus slow.
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Old 12-10-11, 05:47 PM   #7
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It is, but it is monitored and filtered, thus slow.
When I was over recently I tested out a lot of sites to see what I could or couldn't manage from there. Most everything I really "needed" was pretty do-able. A few things that are "nice to have" didn't work so well.

Compared to my first expat experience -- 30 years ago, in Mexico -- the mechanics of communication, banking, staying in touch w/family, arranging travel, etc. -- thinks are much simpler today, even to move to China.
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Old 12-10-11, 06:44 PM   #8
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Excellent! What an adventure it will be.
The company my husband use to work for had a facility in Shanghai and he would travel there a couple of times a year, sometimes staying for up to 5 weeks at a time. They offered him a job over there and I accompanied him for a week on one of his trips to see what Shanghai was like. It was a wonderful, awesome trip; things were so familiar and so different all at the same time. I could have seen us living there for a year, but the timing was all wrong.
Have a great time, don’t breath the air in too deeply, and eat all that wonderful food. (I had some of the best meals in my life there.)
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Old 12-10-11, 07:07 PM   #9
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All the best and Godspeed to you Steve. I hope you post occasionally from China it would be fun to hear about your new adventure. - Matt
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Old 12-10-11, 07:31 PM   #10
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I'll miss your reports and comments from the great PNW, look forward to some ride reports from China.

Good luck and good health, see and do as much as you can. A friend just returned from a year in Shanghai, she said it was a fun city. I've been to Hong Kong a couple times, it will be a great place for you to visit too.
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Old 12-10-11, 08:54 PM   #11
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Have fun, and when you do get to ride, post some pics.
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Old 12-11-11, 11:21 AM   #12
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Hey BB,
I hope you will post from Beijing while you are there. I just had a guest from one of the larger cities in China (Hangzhou) and he really enjoyed recreational riding here immensely. It seems they ride quite a lot for transportation in some locales, but he told me that some Chinese cities are not very bicycle friendly at all. I suspect that riding for fitness and recreation is uncommon in most of China, but with the emerging middle class there that may change. I look forward to your reports... I'm almost certain to make a visit myself before too long.
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Old 12-11-11, 11:59 AM   #13
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Wow, what an adventure! I wish you a successful journey and lots of happy memories. I hope you will stop by when you can and post some pics.
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Old 12-11-11, 12:20 PM   #14
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What a wonderful adventure for you and the family. Be sure to post some pictures and ride reports from China.
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Old 12-11-11, 01:04 PM   #15
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Lots of luck to ya 'bengeboy'. Should be an interesting adventure. Post when you can and let us know how you're doing.

Oh, and send me that Tommasini, I'll take care of it fer ya.
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Old 12-11-11, 01:34 PM   #16
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I did take a few bike-related photos when I was over in September.

Here's a picture of a "protected" bike lane on one of the streets in downtown Beijing, close to where I may live:



Fresh-roasted sweet potatoes baked on bikes that are peddled around town. They're everywhere; this was outside our offices in a pretty modern business district:




This plaque was posted outside a very hip coffee shop:



Bikes share the bike lanes with mopeds, motorbikes, and motorized bike-cabs:



You call that a water bottle? *These* are water bottles:

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Old 12-11-11, 01:37 PM   #17
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Tight squeeze:



Bike storage in one of the apartment buildings I looked at:



Here's a hot (or rather, warm) tip:

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Old 12-11-11, 02:12 PM   #18
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Hey Benge, don't you have a LHT? I think that would be an ideal bike for navigating around town. Just don't leave it out of sight!
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Old 12-11-11, 02:51 PM   #19
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Hey Benge, don't you have a LHT? I think that would be an ideal bike for navigating around town. Just don't leave it out of sight!
Not quite a LHT, but close: I have an "urban assault vehicle" that I made out of a converted late-80's Specialized Stumpjumper. It would be perfect -- fat tires, rugged frame. I even had it powder coated, and with a solid paint job it has no decals or anything to attract attention. I think this would be an ideal 'round town bomber:


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Old 12-12-11, 09:55 AM   #20
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The problem with "The Great Firewall" is that it's so inconsistent. A site that works fine one day will stop working the next. Like many things in China I suppose. Ask your IT department to set you up with a VPN client that routes all your network traffic through the VPN to the US thereby bypassing the Great Firewall.

Bengeboy, good luck with your China adventure!
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Old 12-12-11, 10:14 AM   #21
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What a great adventure!!! Wish I could do it to. Have a great time, and enjoy life.
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Old 05-20-12, 09:40 AM   #22
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Hi Again!

Many months since I last logged on or posted, but thought I'd provide a quick update to old acquaintances because today I (finally) took my first bike ride in Beijing. It's been a long time since December -- I've made 5 (!) round trips to Seattle as I juggled between old job and new one, and finally got settled in here full time in April. Thousands of details to take care (immigration, finding a place to live, banking, new phones, moving stuff, etc.)...and after I got my bike here two weeks ago it took me a couple of weeks to spare the energy to put it together.

I decided for starters to bring over my "beater" commuter bike, a late-80's Specialized Stumpjumper that I converted to a tough city commuter. I took about a two-hour ride through the city today, and stopped and posed it at the cafe with the "Love Beijing / Ride Bike" sign that I added earlier in this thread. Proved to be a great choice for now; for poking around narrow old streets (the hutongs) and rugged urban pavement and road construction this is a perfect bike. I still have ambition to bring a "good" bike over (or get one here) but I'll leave that for another day.

Just today's little ride was such a huge mood lifter for me! I've certainly tried to be adventurous in my months here, and have traveled around the city quite a bit when I have spare time, but there is something about traveling by bike that is such a great way to explore a new city -- fast enough to cover some ground, slow enough to see the sites. I'm about 3 miles from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, so most of the tourist spots you've heard of are easy striking distance by bike.

Thanks for the earlier encouragement; when I get some better ride pics I'll post 'em.

BB




Big poster honoring the firefighters. (Those are hose nozzles they're holding, not guns).



Overpass.


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Old 05-20-12, 09:43 AM   #23
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Nice!
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Old 05-20-12, 09:43 AM   #24
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Wow, what an adventure! I wish you a successful journey and lots of happy memories. I hope you will stop by when you can and post some pics.
Was in your neighborhood recently between China trips -- daughter will be starting school in Claremont next fall.
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Old 05-20-12, 10:13 AM   #25
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that is one sweet beater bike...
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