We arrived in China! We're actually here, and I don't think it has set in yet. Despite some cancelled flights, we got here on Monday or Tuesday and were moved into an apartment by Thursday. Adrian, Sarah and I are living in the most beautiful apartment I have ever lived in. We have already done so much! We've been house shopping, taken a bunch of taxis, gone dancing, visited Ikea, Carrefour, the Chinese 'Wu Mart' and many more places. Our internet connection is very poor at the moment, so I can't post any videos or pictures from the past week, but here are a couple of excerpts from the journal if you care to see what's up with us!
Wednesday February 28, 2007
Today was apartment shopping day. Shirley came with two apartment brokers and we set off to see their apartments. We started out with a dirty apartment that stunk and was seriously lacking in furnishings. We got slightly depressed and moved on to the second one. This one had a lot of interesting furnishings but we were worried about it being too far from the school. An interesting cultural difference arose as negotiations got a little tight and both sides became frustrated. The Americans had some doubts and questions because the Chinese had not put all of the information and variables up front. We didn’t understand, so we were pressuring for answers, angering the Chinese because we were so direct. Our first cultural frustration…but it quickly passed, we expressed our appreciation for their services, and we were back to joking and laughing by the next apartment.
We ended up seeing all of the three bedrooms for the three of us that wanted to live together, and we also saw one and two bedrooms for a guy that wanted his own apartment. We went to lunch with the single person decided and the three of us still in the air. Lunch was excellent, but I was praying under my breath for this apartment thing to be settled. I really wanted a close, convenient place that was also comfortable and ready-to-live. Amazingly, the brokers got a call right as we were leaving, saying that another 3 bedroom was available to look at, but it was our very last option. It turned out to be the MOST beautiful apartment we had seen, and better than all of the apartments we had ever lived in. It had never been lived in, had beautiful wood floors and doors, two bathrooms, three different sized bedrooms, an excellent kitchen, furnishings and décor. We all very excitedly decided to take it, paying a deposit and signing a lease and being thankful that the grueling (although only one day) apartment search was over.
The signing and discussions went on pretty late until the brokers went home and we went to find cell phones for the others. This was another interesting experience. There are many different cell phones and several types of Sim cards and distinguishing between them was so complicated that you had to just take your best guess. After a while, Adam decided and bought a phone while Sarah decided, tried to pay with a credit card, and quickly learned that cash is king in China.
We decided to walk back to the hotel with minimal directions and Adrian’s GPS. We walked for a long time having a good conversation and getting stared at by every bicycler that passed. Stumbling upon an interesting tea house, we decided to go in and it was a wonderful experience. The décor was beautiful and they sat us at a large driftwood table and handed us a menu written on a fan. I didn’t understand all of the vocab for a tea menu, so I asked her to bring her favorite kind and she did a whole show. The actual tea-making and tea-serving process is very complex and we had to video it to make sure that we got all of the steps.
A good ending to the day… We got back to our hotel for our last night there, as we would be moving into the apartments in the morning.