Beyond the Bike
Beyond the Bike's latest adventure is publishing an illustrated book for children aged 5-9, joining forces with illustrator Tim, another teacher and tandem cyclist. The Adventures of Thandie the Tandem is available to buy (from this website) from June 2018. There are more stories to tell and so look out for more Thandie books coming soon.
We got back to the UK on a very cold and grey day, a few days later we had Brexit and all the ensuing madness - a political revolution in London, or just more of the same on (super) fast-forward? Stuart's blog from a year ago as we left London proved remarkably prescient when predicting a 'bloodbath in the corridors of Westmister'. We were starting to wonder why we had bothered to come back to England, so to take our minds off things we got back on our bikes and made sure we cycled over 11,000km (as we had reached 10,000km in Hong Kong).
‘If you want to get rich, you have to builds roads first’ said Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, citing an ancient proverb when announcing the inception of the controversial Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Alongside the massive $40bn ‘Silk Road Fund’, announced at a similar time by Mr Xi, it is hoped this will fund the “One belt – One Drive” initiative, China’s signature foreign policy. As parallels with the US Marshall plan and implications of economic imperialism continue to be drawn, the key question will be whether the policy proves transformative or exploitative.
Two final rides. Two final cities. Three very different bikes. In Hong Kong we cycled past our 10,000km target accompanied by a motley collection of bikes and friends. At the end of June we finally made it to Shanghai. We are now back in the UK, which really has not yet sunk in and we are NOT enjoying the English weather!
Guilin, a premier tourist destination in Southern China has enjoyed double digit growth in the last 10 years. Chic residential tower block developments with exotic western names have sprouted up amongst the ancient limestone karst scenery, fuelled by cheap credit from China’s banks. We cycle into town on a drizzly mid-week May day along empty multi-lane highways. Cranes tower above nearly finished developments, with Starbucks and KFC advertising pathways to future obesity on the ground floor. But there is a eerie silence, exacerbated by the mist and spectacular scenery. The cranes are not working and many of the finished developments are empty….
Supply has exceeded demand in new residential development…
Chavy sits at a table in Mickey’s, a relaxed bar just off the famous Pub Street in Siem Reap, waiting for the evening flow of customers to pick up. 'Tonight, I make $20, maybe $50 if I lucky’ she says, unexcitedly. The attraction of famous temples of Angkor have made this previously sleepy town the fastest growing city in Cambodia, drawing in a million tourists a year. But not all the tourists come just for their dose of spirituality…