Claire Le Hur

Beyond the Bike returns...

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We got back to the UK on a very cold and grey day, a few days later we had Brexit and all the ensuing madness - a political revolution in London, or just more of the same on (super) fast-forward?  Stuart's blog from a year ago as we left London proved remarkably prescient when predicting a 'bloodbath in the corridors of Westmister'. We were starting to wonder why we had bothered to come back to England, so to take our minds off things we got back on our bikes and made sure we cycled over 11,000km (as we had reached 10,000km in Hong Kong).

 

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Stuart Block

“One belt–One Drive” – A new Silk Road or China’s Marshall Plan?

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 ‘If you want to get rich, you have to builds roads first’ said Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, citing an ancient proverb when announcing the inception of the controversial Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Alongside the massive $40bn ‘Silk Road Fund’, announced at a similar time by Mr Xi, it is hoped this will fund the “One belt – One Drive” initiative, China’s signature foreign policy. As parallels with the US Marshall plan and implications of economic imperialism continue to be drawn, the key question will be whether the policy proves transformative or exploitative.

 

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Claire Le Hur

Bromptons and BA join Beyond the Bike

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Two final rides. Two final cities. Three very different bikes.  In Hong Kong we cycled past our 10,000km target accompanied by a motley collection of bikes and friends. At the end of June we finally made it to Shanghai. We are now back in the UK, which really has not yet sunk in and we are NOT enjoying the English weather!

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Stuart Block

The Economic Cycle looks for a hard landing in China!

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Guilin, a premier tourist destination in Southern China has enjoyed double digit growth in the last 10 years. Chic residential tower block developments with exotic western names have sprouted up amongst the ancient limestone karst scenery, fuelled by cheap credit from China’s banks. We cycle into town on a drizzly mid-week May day along empty multi-lane highways. Cranes tower above nearly finished developments, with Starbucks and KFC advertising pathways to future obesity on the ground floor. But there is a eerie silence, exacerbated by the mist and spectacular scenery. The cranes are not working and many of the finished developments are empty….

Supply has exceeded demand in new residential development…

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Stuart Block

Sex Tourism & Career Pathways in Cambodia….

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Chavy sits at a table in Mickey’s, a relaxed bar just off the famous Pub Street in Siem Reap, waiting for the evening flow of customers to pick up. 'Tonight, I make $20, maybe $50 if I lucky’ she says, unexcitedly. The attraction of famous temples of Angkor have made this previously sleepy town the fastest growing city in Cambodia, drawing in a million tourists a year. But not all the tourists come just for their dose of spirituality… 

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Claire Le Hur

Cambodia - Rebuilding itself with a little help from UWS.

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We saw three different sides to the smallest country in our Asian odyssey (except Singapore). Firstly, the incredible ruins of the powerful Angkorian Empire that dominated  the region 1000 years ago. Secondly, the memorials and stories of the terrible  Pol Pot regime only 40 years ago. Finally, a country trying to rebuild itself, trying to escape its recent past and its more powerful neighbours. Our group ride with United World Schools (UWS) really demonstrated how Cambodia is being rebuilt, slowly but surely. Our week with UWS yet again humbled us and made us realise how lucky we are and how important the work they and Beyond Ourselves (in Zambia) is doing. 

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