If you think you’ve grown tired of this city and that you’ve been here long enough, let us tell you now: you haven’t. In fact, you haven’t really seen it at all until you’ve cruised through the hutongs and along the ring roads in the sidecar of a 750cc motorbike.
My guide, Gael Thoreau, the owner of Beijing Sideways, has been living in Beijing since he got ‘stuck’ here after a three-month internship in 1999, and knows its streets and alleys like the back of his hand. As we pass some of Beijing’s most impressive architecture, he knows exactly which hutong to take in order for me to get the perfect shot, and how to get around getting stuck behind traffic, both on the main roads, and when we find ourselves trapped behind a delivery van in the hutongs.
If you’re worried about the speed – yes, it is fast, but no, it isn’t scary. Having one extra wheel makes all the difference, as you’re perfectly balanced the entire time and your driver and guide take no unnecessary risks en route. Whereas a friends’ motorbike can feel like you’ve signed up for certain death, riding in a sidecar takes all your self-restraint to clamp your enthusiasm and not wave your arms around as though you’re on the best rollercoaster ever.
Beijing Sideways are offering a tour between two of the main Beijing Design Week (BJDW) locations, Dazhalan and 751, passing sights such as Qianmen and the Foreign Legation Quarter, with a stop at the BJDW space at Parkview Green, and the National Center for the Performing Arts. Priced at RMB 1,000 per bike (can fit two people), the tour is available until October 7 and takes about two hours. To just transfer between the two locations costs RMB 400, and will take approximately 30- 45 minutes depending on traffic.
For the rest of the year, they offer a hutong beer tour starting in Sanlitun and ending in the hutongs, at RMB 1,600 per couple or RMB 900 per person, taking four hours. As for their Great Wall tour, you’ll be en route for a full day, at RMB 2,400 per person. The tour includes incredible panoramic sights, a stop at the Silver Pagodas, and a pass through nearby villages. Readers of the Beijinger will get 15 percent off the tour upon presentation of this issue of the magazine. www.beijingsideways.com
Photos: courtesy of Beijing Sideways
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