For those of you who were paying attention (Mike), the zebra rug has moved to the office. We spent Sunday and Monday unpacking, organizing, purchasing necessities and basically just settling into our apartment. Before I elaborate too much on any of those items, let me stop to mention that I LOVE IT! This apartment is great! It is fun to have less space (I know you are all wondering if I will still be singing the same tune two years from now, so I will save you the thought), let me clarify, it is cozy, in a good way, and really not that small. I really think that it is a great size and that we are going to like it a lot. We have this cute little washer & dryer-in-one deal that has been interesting. It basically washes and dries one outfit at a time. But because it is so small, it is easy to just throw a load in and then flip it to dryer when it beeps at you. Then, it is super easy to fold because it is only one outfit. I don’t know, maybe I just like it because it has motivated Andy to do laundry, or that it beeps at you. It will be company when I am home alone, since we no longer have pets with us.
Sunday, we went to the grocery store. From the outside, this grocery store looks tiny, but once you enter, it is the size of a small Albertson’s. It is crazy. The grocery store (Hi-Mart) is less than a block away from our apartment building, so we can walk there very easily when we need something. The only caveat is that you cannot buy too much because everything you buy you carry. So, like the laundry, we are learning to go more often and buy less. Welcome to the opposite of America. It is funny because in only three days, I realize what I excessive consumer I am in the US, be it clothes, food, you name it. Here, people are totally different. They appear to go on a lot less and be fine. I am really hoping that I can change and the way that the society (and the size of our apartment) is set up, I think I will have to, to a certain extent, whether I like it or not.
At the grocery store, in the food department, I would say that we recognized about 50-60% of the items. The rest, we have 2.5 years to figure out what they are. We bought some basics: rice, bread, milk, eggs, ham, yogurt, oatmeal, ham, saltines and wine as well as a few non-food items for the apartment (including a wok, power strips, an iron, hangers and other things). The wok that we bought was less than $10 and seems to work pretty dang well. With what “little” we had, we still had ten times more than what others were buying. I prayed that I was going to have enough money (because we realized the ATM in the store would only take Chinese debit cards) as I only had 3000 yuan, and it was almost exactly 1000 ($125). It never ceases to amaze me how cheap things are here.
One thing that I cannot imagine I will get used to is having people blatantly stare at us. I swear we were the Sunday afternoon entertainment at the grocery store. People not only stare but are looking at what you have in your cart. I guess since it is a more local area and not the Carrefour in the expat area of town, we really do just stand out. When we are with John, Andy’s boss, it is even worse because he is 6’4” and people are absolutely amazed by his height. He seems to be pretty used to it now though and just laughs about it. I mean, literally, Andy, John and I were walking down the street and this group of Chinese guys was walking in front of us. Two of the members of the group, kept turning around just to look at us. Then, when we got to the light, they just stood their and stared. Apparently staring is not rude in this culture.
Later that day, we set up our membership to the health club of our apartment complex. We have to walk quite a ways to get to it as there are seven large buildings in this complex and we are the furthest away. They are building the last building in the complex right now and so there is an entire worker camp set up next to the building. I need to get a picture of it to share as it is quite interesting. They are also building another health club right next to our building so it will be nice to have it closer. God forbid we have to walk to go workout.
The gym is nice and they have some yoga and Pilates classes that I want to try out. The only bummer of it is that the gym does not open until 7am and we are used to working out before work. So we need to figure out the best way to adjust our days to fit it in during the hours it is open. I don’t think that the Chinese must like to get up early because none of the gyms that we visited open before 7am. The only exception to the early morning slumber seems to be the boats. They start coming up the river sharply at 5:30am.
Speaking of boats, it is unreal how many of them there are. We will have to get a video and put it on the blog because you simply cannot believe it without seeing it.
Next up, IKEA and getting a bank account…