So, I went from having no mishaps to a whole lot of mishaps…OOPS. So, as I said before I realized I really enjoy riding my bike to the train station in the morning. I can sleep in 25 minutes later to avoid taking the early bus, and it takes me 10 minutes by bike instead of 35 minutes walking…and I get exercise. So…until it starts raining everyday this was my new plan and I was loving it.
I rode my bike to the station on Thursday, parked it on the sidewalk with about 40 other bikes and 25 or so scooters. From the day we moved to Luodong this sidewalk has been covered in bikes and scooters 24/7. So jump ahead 10 hours as I’m coming home from school. I walk out of the train station to where my bike is parked….or I should say, where my bike is supposed to be parked. It’s gone. Bike, lock, helmet, everything. Gone. I start to get nervous because this bike was given to me as a gift and held a lot of really important memories for the man who gave it to me. You can’t get back sentimental value….so I’m running around like a crazy person looking for my bike. I walk up and down the sidewalk 6 times before I decide to call my roommate. I’m not sure what I thought she could do but I needed a second pair of eyes. Maybe my bike was here and I just was missing it? So, Lakyn being the good friend she is, gets her own bike and rushes over. While I’m waiting for her arrival, I realize something horrible but great at the same time. All the scooters on the sidewalk have tickets on them. And there are way less bikes than normal at this hour. So, I put two and two together and realize my bike must have been towed…not stolen. This presented me with a whole other set of issues to work out, but at least I knew I could get it back. Relief.
Lakyn shows up and I show her the tickets. I ask her to read this sign that’s posted next to the sidewalk to see if it says anything useful. It literally says, “Parking on the sidewalk is prohibited. Violators will be towed.” If I didnt have a reason to learn Chinese before….this was it. I parked right next to a sign that told me not to park and had no idea.
So the mystery was solved, but neither of us had any idea how to get my bike back. So, I have to call our program coordinator, Kelly. Kelly lives in Yilan city and had to come all the way to Luodong. She is a life saver. She gets to Luodong 25 minutes after I call her and immediately calls the police. She starts the conversation saying, “I have a foreigner here whose bike got towed.” They told her they had gotten a lot of calls today (I guess they had not been ticketing/towing all summer long and they just started so no one saw it coming) about where to pick up towed bikes. They told her to walk around the corner to the parking lot and the bike would be there.
My bike was 50 feet away the whole time and I had no idea. Lame. But, I didnt have to pay a fee or anything! Kelly said first time offenders were free but she doubts they recorded all the bikes and I would probably never have to pay even if it happened again. So….2 hours, 3 phonecalls and 4 freakouts later, I had by bike and was on my way home.
I park somewhere else now.