san lun che

San Lun Che and Lions

Taken two days ago outside our closest traditional Beijing restaurant.

It is snowing right now. In a few minutes, we’ll be “trekking” the long block or so needed to get there. Lao Lao and Lao Zu have gone ahead to get seats.

I like it when it snows during Spring Festival… a nice juxtaposition of snowfall amidst the din of firecrackers.

San Lun Che with Tricycle

San lun che means “three wheel vehicle”. So, these both could technically be called san lun ches. I guess they could also both be called tricycles. This never sounded quite right to me, which is why I’ve stuck with san lun che. I mean, who puts a steel beam or ice cream cooler on a tricycle?

As with the one in my previous post, this san lun che is gas powered. The chain and the right peddle are missing. I think that the flap behind the front wheel is a leftover from the winter months, and is more meant to shield the driver’s legs from cold wind and such then to act as a mud flap.

I took this shot with my iPhone 4, and was really unhappy with it. Amongst other things, the focus was way off. I had a good laugh when taking it, and thought it would be fun for folks to see, so I didn’t feel like just deleting it. Converting it to B&W, and tweaking it with Lightroom, seems to have saved it somewhat.

Cooler on a San Lun Che

Once again, finding the right vehicle for the job.

If you look at the crankset, you’ll see that the chain is chain is missing. So, this san lun che is reliant on engine-power only. And, in this case, it is a pretty inefficient gasoline engine.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these were made illegal at some point, and folks were told to only employ electric-power.



Things can happen big in Beijing. Sometimes, too big. Take, for example, the roll-out of these concession stands across the city. I think they started being setup toward the beginning of last year… often competing with vendors serving food from san lun ches. Then, somewhere around the end of the year… poof, the vendors were gone. Some stands were taken away, some were re-purposed by other vendors, and some were just left to rot like the one above.


I was walking down to meet Shanshan at the bus stop last Friday, when I was this san lun che loaded with wooden chairs. My initial reaction was, well, “beautiful”.

I think the photograph is just okay. Probably would’ve been better without the legs of the man the san lunch che driver is talking with, or without some of the background noise. But, well, it is what it is.

My friend Vivian recently left this comment:

It’s great! Robert, you see beauty all around you, and you make me look at everyday things in a different light!

which I think captures the essence of much of my photography.