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CHANGING CURRENTS
REFLECTIONS
The MEDIUM, the MESSAGE and the SAUSAGE DOG
CYCLING TO XANADU
THE CHINESE DREAM
CHINESE NEW YEAR ADS
BIG IDEAS FROM BEYOND THE WALL
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
VIEWS FROM ABOARD THE CHINA EXPRESS:
1 Zola and Retail Marketing
2 Playing the Waiting Game
3 Beware the Ides of March
4 The county not on a map
5 Chinese Chess in Beijing
6 Build it and They'll Come
7 Riding the Water Dragon
8 The Best of Both Worlds
9 Storming the Great Wall
10 Welcome to the Wangba
11 The Catcher in the Rice
12 The Marriage Business
13 The Crouching Dragon
14 Counting the Numbers
15 A Century of Migration
16 Shooting for the Stars
17 Rise of Yorkshire Puds
18 Harry Potter in Beijing
19 Standing Out in China
20 Self-pandactualisation
21 Strolling on the Moon
22 Tea with the Brothers
23 Animated Guangzhou
24 Trouble on the Farms
25 Christmas in Haerbin
26 Dave pops into Tesco
27 A Breath of Fresh Air
28 The Boys from Brazil
29 Rolls-Royce on a roll
30 The Great Exhibition
31 Spreading the Word
32 On Top of the World
33 Moonlight Madness
34 Beijing's Wild West
35 Avatar vs Confucius
36 Brand Ambassadors
37 Inspiring Adventure
38 China's Sweet Spot
39 Spinning the Wheel
40 Winter Wonderland
41 The End of the Sky
42 Ticket to Ride High
43 Turning the Corner
44 Trouble in Toytown
45 Watch with Mother
46 Red-crowned Alert
47 In a Barbie World
48 Domestic Arrivals
49 Tale of Two Taxis
50 Land of Extremes
51 Of 'Mice' and Men
52 Tour of the South
53 Brooding Clouds?
54 The Nabang Test
55 Guanxi Building
56 Apple Blossoms
57 New Romantics
58 The Rose Seller
59 Rural Shanghai
60 Forbidden Fruit
61 Exotic Flavours
62 Picking up Pace
63 New Year, 2008
64 Shedding Tiers
65 Olympic Prince
66 London Calling
67 A Soulful Song
68 Paradise Lost?
69 Brandopolises
70 Red, red wine
71 Finding Nemo
72 Rogue Dealer
73 Juicy Carrots
74 Bad Air Days
75 Golden Week
76 Master Class
77 Noodle Wars
78 Yes We Can!
79 Mr Blue Sky
80 Keep Riding
81 Wise Words
82 Hair Today
83 Easy Rider
84 Aftershock
85 Bread vans
86 Pick a card
87 The 60th
88 Ox Tales
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BIRDS IN CHINA - PHOTOS
BIRDING in CHINA
PORTS of CALL
ABOUT & CONTACT

Keep Riding

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Learning to ride in Beijing

The Wenyu river is a surprise in many ways.  Walking by the river, with open countryside stretching in all directions, downtown Beijing seems to be much further away than the 20 minutes drive it would normally take from the Jingmi Lu bridge (that’s up to 60 minutes during the rush hour mind you).  

  Now unfrozen, hundreds of water birds, recently arrived from the south, fly around in raucous bands when disturbed by dog-walkers, a shepherdess and her sheep; or indeed by off-road cyclists and joggers from the nearby “expat compounds”.  The foreign-influence in these upmarket housing estates is on the wane, however, as more and more locals move up the property ladder and in to the area, replacing the expats whose China adventure has come to an end.  

  But, despite the changing ethnicity of the local villa-dwelling population, jogging and bike-riding by the Wenyu River remain the preserve of the “laowai” (or "old-outsider", the most-often heard Chinese expression for foreigner).  After all, why ride a BMX by the river when you can drive a BMW to the golf course?  

  Let’s face it, bike riding in Beijing is a pursuit that millions are striving to avoid.  

  Horse-riding, though, is in a completely different league.

  There is a large equestrian centre by the Wenyu River – one of the reportedly 60 or so that has opened in Beijing – that, judging by the standard of horsemanship on display, caters more for the beginner than the seasoned rider.  If I were to take a stab at the make-up of their clientele, I would say that the vast majority are under 35 and that two-thirds are female. No matter what the level of the rider – not that I am qualified to judge – all are equipped with the “right gear”: stylish breeches and riding boots (most probably bought from the tack shop that’s on Jingmi Lu - aka Jingshun Lu).  Horse-riding, it seems, it as for much for fashion lovers as it is for horse lovers. 

  This is confirmed by Sherry Kuang – a new fan of horseriding – who was interviewed by the China International Business (CIB) magazine (Feb 10th) for its article “Ready to jump the hurdle”: 

  “China’s ambitious professionals see in horse riding something that combines fashion and sport,” she tells the magazine.  Interestingly, Ms Kuang, a “28-year-old accountant, bought her stuff from the aforementioned Jingmi Lu tack shop and, according to CIB magazine, spent “RMB 300 (USD 43.90) on her breeches, RMB 400 (USD 58.50) on a protective jacket and RMB 1,400 (USD 204.75) on boots”.  Then there’s the cost of the horse-riding sessions themselves of course: a block of ten hour-long lessons cost Ms Kuang 2500 RMB.

  Just to repeat, I’m far from expert on these matters but, although the magazine article doesn’t mention it, the shopping list would surely have included a hat. The only other thing I know about horseriding is that riding at speed without holding the reins is asking for trouble.  And that's exactly what I saw through my camera's viewfinder as the shrill scream of a woman diverted my attention from taking photographs of a flock of seven Smew (a type of duck).   I watched in horror as what I can best describe as a bronking mule tried to unseat its lady rider, who was fighting a losing fight to keep her balance by using her arms in the manner a tight-rope walker might when about to lose her footing above a swirling torrent of water.

  Although I was a few hundred metres away, the picture below clearly shows the poor girl about to hit the ground. 

  The way she fell was horrifying; and I was expecting the worst after she lay motionless for several minutes.  (The picture also shows the concerned looks of four of the bystanders, who also looked over when they heard her scream.)  

  I am very happy to report however that, miraculously, ten minutes later she sat up.  A few minutes after that she rose to her feet and, incredibly, in five more minutes she got back on the very same horse that had unseated her.

  Now that's what I call courage.  The admiration - not to mention relief - of the bystanders was palpable. 

  The incident offers a clue as to why a series of “Keep Walking” TV commercials by Johnnie Walker has resonated so well here among young professionals  – many of whom are feeling particularly vulnerable during these uncertain times.  The moral of the storyline is that, no matter how bad things are, and how many knocks you take, real courage manifests in the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and use the bad experience to your long-term advantage. 

  I’m looking forward to seeing the lady in the picture on my future walks (or bike rides) by the Wenyu River – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her becoming one of the centre’s star riders.

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Fall before the pride