It was August 2015, the time when rainy season starts in south-west China. I was in a village called “One Hundred Birds River” (but I think there were 103.5 birds, really) correcting English papers, writing the scores in neat spreadsheets and wondering what next year will bring when I got an e-mail: I could start learning Chinese in Kunming, Yunnan province. The school might be able to offer me a part-time job and I was going to start in September. Yuhuuu! Dilemma solved! Learning Chinese is really fun for nerds like me!
Enthusiasm was high, yet there was only one issue: how could I possibly leave Markus behind? We had experienced so much together during those past few months, we always went grocery shopping together, we explored the villages around the campus, we took all the off-road paths in the area, we were even caught often in the dark with no lights…being with Markus was just pure joy, real happiness, freedom.
So what if Markus was a cheap Chinese bike that didn’t even have a water bottle holder? Our connection was way beyond superficial appearances, he could have had polka dots and a broken pedal for all I cared! I wanted Markus to come with me to Kunming and I could see no better way of moving to the neighboring province than biking there. After all, it was just 700km, in one week we’d be there, just in time for my new Chinese course. Excellenteee!
The night before starting the trip, two good friends were checking on me and Markus:
James: “Do you know how to fix a flat tire?”
Me: “No, but I have glue.”
Craig: “Do you have a spanner?”
Me: “What’s a “spanner”?”
James: “Why doesn’t your bike have a water bottle holder and a truck rack?”
Me: “I don’t need any, I have a backpack.”
Craig: “Do you have a paddled saddle?”
Me: “What’s that for?”
James: “Do you have biking shoes?”
Me: “I have sandals.”
Craig: “What is the longest distance you’ve biked before?”
I was definitely prepared. I trusted that Markus would be, like always, loyal. Even when a pedal broke in the first day, I still knew that Markus had my back. Even when I felt like the bones in my spine were dancing under the weight of my backpack, I still knew we’d arrive. Even when it started to rain heavily and I had no raincoat, we still moved on. Truth be told, we didn’t move so fast anymore when the gears broke.
But we finally made it to Kunming, without proper equipment, without proper preparation and continued our idyllic relationship in the new city. At least for about 4 months, until I woke up one morning and Markus was gone…I figured he’d decided to start a new adventure. Obviously the static life and the commitment didn’t match his free spirit. Although the break-up hurt for a while, I was genuinely happy for him. I’ve sent him telepathically a big hug, positive thoughts and I wished him many inspiring adventures.
【If you’re interested to read my diary during the 9 long days, you can find it all here, together with other much better written travelling stories by other authors. It’s a small and slow project that hopes to finish with a small publishing house. In any case, I’m honored to be part of this cool project, no matter where it all leads.】