I just got back from a short trip to Dalian, China. My purpose was simple: meet up with some childhood friends from Montreal and have a little reunion, eat some tasty food, do a bit of shopping, and just get a feel for the place. This was my first visit to China and I asked my friend who is living there about getting a hold of some bikes to cruise around the city on. Her email response prior to my departure gave the impression that she had never considered riding a bike in Dalian. I was informed that a Dalian winter is much colder than a Montreal winter, which is much colder than a Toronto winter, which made me consider canceling my trip. I was envisioning -50°C at noon. She also told me that while there are some traffic signals, they are more like guidelines, but not so strictly followed, and that I would understand when I got there. So, I hopped on a plane for a few hours and ended up in a totally different world.
Thankfully I hit Dalian during a heatwave, though I was secretly kind of wishing to have to try out the amazing inch thick long underwear that I saw for sale in the markets. The thing about the traffic that my friend had warned me about became clear very quickly, and I learned to stick close behind the locals when crossing the street. While I did see a number of pedal powdered vehicles, they were mostly tricycles, and they were mostly stationary. The good thing about this is that they were usually loaded up with delicious fresh fruits and veggies. Bicycle culture in Dalian does seem to be shadowed by car culture or perhaps all the cyclist were chilling at home celebrating Chinese new year. I still had a great time sticking to the side streets, the markets and underground malls. I definitely want to explore more of China, but maybe I’ll save the biking for the countryside.