Our own Far East Correspondent just submitted this timely report.
I took my bikes from HK to China. I considered breaking them down and boxing them, but the trip is only one hour and I intended to ride them with friends once I arrived. So I calls the train station and asks them if its OK to bring a bike. The lady who answered the phone acted like I wanted to kill her favorite dog. “Why do you want to bring a bike to China, they have bikes there?” Good question! After 10 minutes on hold, she gave me a murky YES it’s OK, no extra charge, no box needed.
So I gets to the train station nice and early. I avoid eye contact with the security guard at the gate while running smack into one of his co workers. He asks me “Why do you want to bring a bike to China, they have bikes there?” Good question! I tells him that I wanna ride my own bike. He gives me a puzzled look and tells me to take my front wheel off. Why? He doesn’t know, just do it. So I takes my front wheel off. Since I have front racks and a big basket, my front wheel-less bikes is now hard to manage. Of course their are turn-styles, and stairs and gates to make my life miserable. Also, I don’t want to set my forks on the cement, so I stand there holding up my front ends like an idiot.
Finally I gets to the train. The conductor lady looks at my bikes and says “Why do you want to bring a bike to China, they have bikes there?” (good question?) I ignore her and try to step up into the train.
Hold on! The conductor lady barks.
You cant bring that bikes on the train like that!
She hands me a large black garbage bag and sez, here put your front wheels in this.
Do you want to get on the train?
I have heard people tell me that Salsa wheels are trash, but this is plain silly. So I puts my wheels inna trash bag and we are all friends now. Aside from having to stand and hold my bikes in the doorway for an hour, things go smoothly.
So I finally gets to Huizhou and I want to take another train to Dongguan (because i fucked up, the local 110 proof wine is a mutherfucker).
I try to get on the train. The security wont let me and my Chinese is not good enough to understand what he’s saying. A cute young woman with coke bottle glasses and decent English steps up to help. She says that the security sez that I gotta ship my bike via consignment.
So i find my way to the consignment shipping desk. It looks like any other shipping department. Boxes and crates and 6 sleepy looking security guys running the show.
As soon as I try to speak Chinese, I here a chorus of HELLO, HOW ARE YOU? (in English). Now I have a dozen security guards helping me. They want about $3 USD each to ship my bikes 50 miles. I fork over the dough and they roll my bikes behind the yellow line into their shipping area. Immediately some kid begins dry shifting my 27 gears while another security guy starts slapping big white sticky shipping labels on my seat, grips, rear rack…I growled and yelled WAIT! in Chinese. Everyone laughed and yelled WAIT! back at me (in Chinese). Apparently they were impressed with my Puton-wah, but they were not doing what I asked. I pushed a couple of guys out of my way and ran to my bike’s rescue. However, as soon as my foot crossed the yellow line, I was gently yet firmly grabbed by 5 pairs of hands and escorted out of the consignment area. I heard one of my escorts chuckle and say, “Don’t worry” (in Chinese).
So I gets to Dongguan and gets off the train and meet up with my friends. We find the consignment receiving area. This one is run by all women. They seem less excited to see me, which is refreshing. My Chinese friends help me translate. They ask where my bikes are. The lady behind the desk says, the bikes are “busy”. Busy? Busy?!?! What the fuck does that mean?
About 20 minutes later, my first bike arrives. A chunky little security girl comes riding up on my mountain bike and gracefully dismounts as she comes to a stop. She leans my bike against the counter, grabs a couple of packages under one arm and then quickly mounts up and disappears out the back gate with my bike. I was about to protest, but it happened too quickly.
All I could do was smile and look at the yellow line. ….
5 minutes later my China 28″ arrives with a 5 foot tall girl standing and pedaling (my bikes is set up for me at 6″1″)and some sleepy looking skinny boy sitting side saddle on my rear rack.
At the 30 minute mark both of my bikes were surrendered to me. My gears were back where I left them and my shit seemed no worse for the wear save the stickiness on my left grip that I cant wash out. Oh yeah, and they deflated alla my tires to china half inflated goodness out of kindness. They dont know about tuffies. I am off to find a pump…