Big day racing around Beijing, doing last-minute errands. Finish packing around 11pm. Our stuff: three big cheap stripey bags, one zip already broken, crammed full of our otherwise expensive-looking and numerous panniers and miscellany. We have lots of sensible cycling gear, sensible outdoor gear, and some good silly for-the-camera gear: 2x Star Trek: New Generation sunglasses, 2x gay disco welding visors, 2x spandex unitards (skeleton and leopard-print). Also: two cardboard bikes boxes, crammed with brand-new UCC cycles (anyone heard of UCC? We haven’t), purchased in Beijing yesterday from a lovely young woman called Heaven, and this dude called Rhino who couldn’t speak a word of English, but seemed to know what he was gesticulating about. The bikes were the only steel-framed ones we could find in Beijing, and should be sturdy enough for the mission – the only concern so far is the ad hoc panier racks, which are a sight to behold: an aluminium bike rack sitting on top of a steel one, extra pedals sandwiched in between, the whole mess held together with a bunch of wire. Hmmm.
Me and Tama were having trouble flagging down a taxi with these boxes, so we ended up carrying them all the way back to the hutong (a kilometre or so), sweating like mad beasts, getting stared at by locals with a mixture of incredulity and glee. Go to sleep at midnight, Tama is out like a light, and within a few minutes he is snoring. I forgot Tama snored – well, not really snored, more these long steady puffs, like a child pretending to snore. We are going to be spending the next 30 days in very close proximity, so you (and I) should expect to hear plenty more about this phenomenon.