I’m mentally preparing to come back to the States; we leave here in less than a month!
I’m trying to spend these last moments with my super-amazing friends, dreading having to say goodbye and part ways, but also excited for what this summer holds (connecting with a lot of people to share about what God is doing here among the university students). I’m really looking forward to coming back next year!
So, as I’ve been thinking about returning to the States, it’s made my mind rewind to 6 months ago when I first landed in this country. So much has happened, and I’ve changed so much. There’s too much to share with you, so I’ve limited it to the interaction I’ve had with my bike, and I’ve cut it short; I really could share more experiences my bike and I have shared.
Upon arriving, I noticed right away the traffic was crazy. Every time I set foot on the street I thought there was a good chance I was going to die. My teammate and I commented to each other that people would be praying a lot harder if they new about this one danger alone! It really didn’t take too long for me to learn the flow of traffic, and really it’s not that dangerous. I’m just more confident. 🙂 I’ve even learned how to ride with someone sitting on the back of my bike!
Ah, my bike. I just got the tires pumped with air, and it rides so much better now! I should have gotten it done sooner. Even though it’s just a bike, I’ve prolonged having the maintenance done on it, just like my car at home. I got my brakes checked too, but those were working just fine. My “mechanic” takes good care of me, and he’s really honest.
I remember it being really strange when I first got here to keep track of a set of keys for my bike. I’m used to needing keys to run a car, but not really for a bike. (It’s for the lock; there’s no motor, though some bikes here do have motors.) As I’m writing this, I realize that I actually still have the bike I purchased the 2nd or 3rd day after I got here. Most bikes are stolen, especially when they are new. But, we still have a couple more weeks until I can say it lasted the whole year. That would be quite an accomplishment!
I’m very appreciative of my bike, as it helps me to get from place to place. It really has functioned well since the first day I bought it and the pedal fell off twice. I like it’s color (navy blue, though now it has so much dust on it that it looks like a charcoal color), and I can always identify it by the lime green bike lock threaded around the tire spokes. Yeah, I’ve grown attached, so it would be sad if it was stolen.
There are moments of frustration, though, and sometimes I conclude that it wouldn’t be that bad if someone else had to deal with it. I think it all started when I bought a basket for the front of my bike…
Everyone else has baskets, so the decision to buy one was a combination of (1) getting over the initial judgemental thought that everyone here is a dork because they have a basket on their bike, (2) feeling left out because I didn’t have one, and (3) it was really hard to carry all the groceries back from the market when I didn’t have the extra space. A basket on a bike is equivalent to a trunk on a car, as the rack over the back tire is equivalent to a back seat of a car (except only one person should ride on the bike rack).
Ok, back to the bike frustrations…The basket somehow has made my bicycle a little unbalanced. I don’t really understand why; if I did, I would try to fix it. Since I couldn’t solve this problem, I learned to deal. I try to slant the front tire a certain way when I park it, or it will topple the bike over. There are so many times when my hands are full, and it’s difficult to find that delicate placement of perfect balance. More often than not, the bike twists and then falls over while I still have a hold of one of the handle bars.
For all of you parents out there, the experience is quite similar to a child throwing a temper tantrum. As the adult, you want the child to stand up and stop screaming or crying, but they refuse. You still have a hold of one of their arms as they throw themselves to the ground and refuse to listen to you. Now that we’re all getting the picture, lets add lots of heavy grocery bags, a couple books, and a purse….wait, were there eggs among the items purchased? Yes. 1/3 of them are now cracked and oozing from the sudden lunge forward to catch the bike from falling all the way to the ground. But the bike is on the ground anyway, and now there’s a mess to deal with.
Taking deep breaths, I’ve pulled myself together many times and tried to calmly straighten the bike. It’s not an easy job since I usually have already managed to successfully lock the back wheel, making it move stubbornly. Finally I usually leave the bike wedged in between two other bikes to help prop it up. Whoever comes to claim their bike will have to deal with my bike not wanting to stand up on it’s own.
There have been many times I’ve wanted to cry, but the thought of what I must look like to any onlookers makes me laugh instead. I know they’re watching. Someone is always watching the lao wai (foreigner), so I know I can’t kick the bike and yell at it.
In its defense and to its credit, it really is a good bike, and other than this one quirk, we get a long quite well. It will be very sad to leave it.
Ah huh…it does sound kinda crazy to care so much about a bike. It’s true that in the last 6 months I’ve really grown to embrace the bike-riding Asian culture, but even more so, I’ve embraced the people. I’m really close with a lot of my friends. It will be VERY difficult to leave them!