Bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation for many American residents in China, and both new and used ones are easy and inexpensive to purchase. A new bike costs Y340-800; used ones are about Y200. Ask around or check your local bulletin board if you want to buy a used one. Used bicycle shops are fairly common in larger cities. The quality of brands varies, and some carry a certain measure of status. Ask your Chinese and foreign friends for advice before you buy. All bicycles must be registered. Ask your host unit for guidance.
Bicycle repair shops—usually independent entrepreneurs who set up their tools along the street—are everywhere. Repairs are inexpensive: a complete overhaul may cost as little as Y10. Check any new or used bike carefully, however, before leaving the shop, and make certain the salespeople tighten all the parts. Buy a bicycle light and reflecting tape for the front and back fenders for safety. Many riders carry repair kits with lock washers of various sizes and other tools for repairs on the road. Theft is not uncommon in China, and Chinese-style bicycle locks are usually part of the purchase. Chains and locks are also sold in most bicycle stores. Some people recommend bringing a Kryptonite lock from the United States. Park in a bicycle lot to minimize the possibility of theft or confiscation by campus police, who sometimes pick up bikes not properly parked. If your bicycle is missing, check first with the police.
If your stay in China will be relatively short, you might want to rent a bicycle. In large cities, the rental shop is often found just opposite the Friendship Store; personnel at tourist hotels or local China International Travel Service offices can provide information on rentals in other areas.
When you register with the local public security bureau, you must provide passport-sized photos for library cards, swimming passes, and diplomas. You should take along ten or more extra copies of photos or have them done in China (the turnaround time is about two days).
Beijing has an eclectic selection of reading matter in the stores catering to foreigners, but rarely the latest bestsellers or much serious nonfiction. A selection of Western newspapers and magazines is offered in Friendship Stores and joint-venture hotels—The Asian Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, and Far Eastern Economic Review. Chinese-run English language bookstores in big cities often have a good selection of English-language novels as well as translations of Chinese novels, poetry, and art books. Some familiarity with Chinese classical and