I used to cycle around Beijing, before my bike was stolen. The city was big enough to accomodate long lengths and fewer dead ends. But the air. The pollution was bad enough when you’re walking around, but when it smacks you with a certain velocity, it’s like swallowing acid. My throat would be itching within minutes of cycling in the roads and I had to slow down once in a while just to breathe. So juggling that and the attempt of suicide that is crossing an intersection (EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.), I tended to wonder why I took joyrides at all. I think it’s just the appeal of the long roads. When I ran out of destinations, I followed random people on their bicycles, which led me to all sorts of different places (I would turn around once they reached home and head off again.)
So two days before the Olympics. Friends tell me the pollution hasn’t improved, the manners are still as bad (once on holiday from Beijing, I dropped by Hong Kong and felt extremely moved because someone had offered a curt “sorry” when he bumped me in the MTR), the traffic is worse, and I’ve seen the attempts for the city’s beautification in the news magazines, which look extremely forced. When the 8th starts, it’s either going to squeak by or flop magnificently. Either way, there’s going to be plenty to watch.
Oh yeah, I’m in Manila at the moment.