Hello Bike

This is actually the name of one of the many bike-sharing companies popular throughout China. It has taken us a year but we finally plucked up the courage and figured out how to use them. It wasn’t all that easy as EVERYTHING on the app is in mandarin and it did take us a couple of goes to get it right but we managed it and this afternoon we set off to explore.

The bikes are everywhere which is one of the reasons that they are so attractive. You can pick a bike up at any street corner and drop it off wherever you finish. There is even a tracing system on the app which provides a map showing where you are and where your nearest bike is (very handy).

There are lots of different bikes available but we use Hello bike (the blue ones) as that app is directly linked to our bank account and the money can be deducted automatically.

Even easier that London’s Boris Bikes, you simply scan the QR code at the back and it unlocks. There is a little whirring noise and a voice says ‘Hello Bike’ (in English) then some Mandarin that we don’t understand and off you go.

The infrastructure in the city is designed with bikes in mind and excellent cycle lanes proliferate. Mind you they are not just for cycles but scooters as well so you do have to be careful. It helps that most of greater Shanghai is flat so the cycling is easy.

The Hello Bike company began in 2016 at the peak of the bike craze in China. Since then its popularity has waned slightly but they still record 300 million cycle rides per day in China which I think is pretty amazing. It is of course hit and miss whether you get a decent bike or not but hey, if your brakes are dodgy just stop and swap it for the next one you see.

Today it was perfect weather, the temperature and humidity having dropped to a delightful 24 degrees. So we set off and headed south. It wasn’t long before we found a Taoist Temple in the middle of an area that is under construction. The structure is very old and the building works are clearly preserving it. Being a little off the beaten track the place was deserted and we were able to wander around and admire the shrines undistrubed.

I love the curving rooflines and the quiet tranquility of the interiors with the mahagony fretwork creating a sense of order and symmetry.

Outside the shrine was protected by the dragon guardian who looks as though he is giving other dragons plenty of grief!

Inside was a courtyard full of life-size and life-like statues.

We had no idea what their stories were but would be very curious to find out what this one was all about!!! He creeped us out.

The ceiling was beautiful and some of the golden screens were very intricate.

This statue was interesting as it is not often that you see statues with darker faces. This is Yang Wensheng and he was a local official who is honored for being incorruptible,just and fair. Not only that he was a wizard at medicine and is literally venerated for his supernatural ability to save lives.

Here is the Jade Emperor, quite an imposing figure but perhaps should have been renamed the ‘Golden Emperor’ LOL

Around the walls were banks of niches filled with glowing statues. At first I thought that they were Buddhas (we have seen so many and they looked the right shape) but on closer inspection they were actually Confucius (we think)

Back on our bikes we peddled home. We locked up the bikes by the gate to our complex and calculated the cost. Over an hour of cycling had cost us the equivalent of 40p. Not bad for a bit of exercise, some cultural experiences and burning off approx 1000 calories!