Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pudong to Puxi & Our First Chinese Offense

On Saturday we signed up for a guided bike tour in Zhujiajiao, a small neighboring town of Shanghai. Jim had been on a different ride with the group before (see posts from May). The group was to leave the meeting place in Puxi at 10am on Saturday, so Friday night we mapped out our bike route to the meeting place. We left Saturday morning at 8am, figuring we were allowing ourselves plenty of times to bike to Puxi.

We phoned ahead when we realized we were going to be late, which in the end was only 15 minutes. So what led to our tardiness? Neglecting the facts that Jim was almost side-swiped by a crazy taxi driver, and I was almost the hood ornament for a black sedan, there was one event that set us back the most.

We were stopped and issued tickets by a policeman for riding our bikes on Beijing Lu (Lu = Rd), a road that is not supposed to be traversed by bikes. Sure there were signs with a bike and a non-smoking-like slash through it, but seriously, who looks at signs when travelling the streets of Shanghai? We thought about just taking off in a different direction for about 30 seconds, but then came to the consensus that we didn’t want to be fugitives on the road in socialist/communist China.

There was another Chinese person that was getting a ticket for the same offense, but when the cop started to write our tickets, we drew a crowd of locals, and I felt like part of a circus act.

Another Chinese man approached and helped the officer translate. He told us that the police officer was a very nice and good man and was doing this for our safety. The police officer was upset too because we didn’t have registration numbers (I think like a license plate) for our bikes either – we haven’t figured out where to get those yet, but we will. By the end of the event, the translator and the police officer both said we were there “pengyou” or friend.

When the officer asked my name, I replied, he rolled his eyes and he just handed the notepad directly to me. The same happened to Jim. We paid our fees to the police officer: 5 RMB each ($0.73). We received our tickets (mine is shown below) and receipts, and were allowed to continue our paths as long as we walked our bikes while on Beijing Lu... We cut a street north and hopped back in the saddles.

The ride to the meeting place turned out to be right at 20km = 12.4miles. Up to this point, the most I had rode in one event was about 18 km. So I was still looking at the 25 km we had signed up for with the group.

We just hope there is no court date associated with this violation, because we have no idea how to proceed if so. We’ll ask our Chinese tutor tomorrow, just to be safe.

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