I have always wanted to go to China, even before it become all hip and trendy and full of shiny new cars.
My interest in the Far East country began when I saw a documentary a few years back. It told of a Chinese eunuch warrior (I forget his name) who might have discovered a lot of new lands on an amazing trip with a giant fleet of boats.
The second episode promised to tell me that he discovered America as well, although I missed that one due to an ingrown toenail or something. Nevertheless, the images of classic Chinese architecture left me with a lot of intrigue for the place.
I almost went there a few years back but had to cancel the trip at the last minute and now I am left wondering whether it just isn’t my destiny to see the Great Wall and the terracotta soldiers.
I also have to say that the traffic was a big factor. Growing up in the UK I was used to seeing lots of cars, trucks and buses whizz past my ears. Occasionally a tractor would trundle along to change the scenery a bit but overall it was a little monotonous.
Bikes All Around
This is why I loved those images of the streets being filled with bicycles. Everyone seemed to have one and it seemed such a fun and healthy, if chaotic, way of getting around. I really wanted to stand and watch in amazement as hundreds of bikes sped past me.
This is why I was a tad disappointed to see today that China now has the biggest car market in the entire world. It appears that it recently overtook the US by selling 18.5 million cars in 2011, which is really a staggering figure. Even more remarkable is that by the time the current decade ends analysts expect this number to reach 30 million. The market has got so overheated that the government is already looking at ways of getting the number of sales to slow down. I await the latest figures on bike sales.