My most fun bargaining experience in Beijing, by Diarmuid Crowley

When I started working in Beijing, one thing that surprised me was the fact that a lot of the teachers own e-bikes. Surely they’re all crazy I thought (and maybe they are, they’re living in China after all!). But as time passed, it started to make a lot of sense to me. In a city of Beijing’s size, having a bike makes your life much easier. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. Luckily for me, there’s a strip of bike shops right by my apartment. So after playing charades with the shop owners and using the calculator on my phone to haggle prices I found out that … bikes are not as cheap in Beijing as I though they would be. I returned home dejected and all the more wearisome on my overused feet. But as is usually the case in China, there are always other options. I contacted an old teacher in my school and he brought me to another strip of shops. Initially it looked like the prices would be pretty much the same. I would just have to cough up and spend a considerable amount of money if I wanted to pursue my dream of living a sedentary Chinese life. But experience prevailed and the Aihua old-stock wasn’t budging. After a considerable amount of haggling, the shop owner gestured for us to follow him. He brought us to a dodgy looking garage hidden down a side street. Once we stepped inside it appeared to me we had stepped inside mo-ped nirvana! Bikes sprawled the space. This was more like it! The great thing about situations like this in China is that because you don’t share the language you can’t query the questionable origins of what you’re looking at. My conscience was clear(ish) and I was ready to ride and let my overgrown hair (Chinese haircuts, there’s a whole other story for you) feel the wind. The outcome … I got a pretty decent bike for less than €100 and I haven’t looked back since (mainly because I’m afraid to see the build-up of traffic behind me trying to honk me off the road.)

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