Some random thoughts from Geoff as he sits enjoying his (can you say Bob Dole?) morning latte on a glorious October morning in Jiaxing.
Fireworks – The Chinese utilize fireworks in many aspects of their daily life. They use them to celebrate births and birthdays, deaths and funerals, renovations and openings of new businesses (and probably closings too). Apparently, they are supposed to ward off evil spirits. They are used so often that I don’t think people (and perhaps the evil spirits) pay any attention to them. Case in point: A restaurant near us (2 blocks) has been undergoing significant renovations since we arrived. Yesterday I noticed (hard to miss – see photo) that it was their grand reopening. Last night we were treated to a 12 – 15 minute display of fireworks from our balcony – it was as if we were living on the water at English Bay with the Celebration of Light right there. However, as I looked around at the other apartment building which had exactly the same view of them, I saw only 2 (two) other people watching them – one was a 10 year old and the other was Terry! I guess familiarity breeds something…
Cost of Living – People told us before we came how inexpensive it is to live here. We have experienced some of that – but then again some things can be quite expensive. When we got here we deposited some money in a bank account from which our utility expense is withdrawn each month. Yesterday I checked to see if we had used it up yet – don’t want to run out of hot water in the middle of Terry’s morning shower! For the month of September our water/electricity bill was 153 yuan – or $25.56 Cdn. Yesterday I also got my new phone signed up for the next year with China Mobile. I get 200 minutes talk time per month, free calling anywhere in China and received calls don’t count in my minutes, free texting and 300 MB Data. It will cost me 88 yuan per month ($14.66) – but if I don’t use all the money up, I roll the remainder over to the next month (ie 20Y left – next month is only 68Y). Compare that to Rogers $65.00 plus taxes etc per month with no rollover.
Watch where you walk – We have been told to look in three directions when you cross the street. Came as close to
death, well maybe serious injury, as I want to this morning. Crossing the street IN THE CROSSWALK, I was carefully watching to my left to make sure I didn’t get hit. My mistake was not to be looking to the right before I crossed the centre line. As I crossed the centre line and looked to my right, there was a Hyundai bearing down on me at 30-40kph, with no intention of stopping. He clearly saw me – I could see the whites of his eyes – and as I took a giant step, he swerved – missing me by a good foot. Never want to be that close again. After that a scooter roared right past me – on the frigging sidewalk. Terry and I decided last night that pedestrians, crosswalks or no crosswalks, sidewalks or no sidewalks, are the bottom of the totem pole in terms of any kind of right of way.
Food shopping – a little disturbing when you are strolling through the fish area of Walmart’s food floor and the clerk is wandering around the exposed foods swatting at flies with a fly swatter….
Pleasantly surprised – at the lack of smokers we have seen, the lack of hawking and spitting on the street (although the guy on the subway car was a little disgusting – even his wife gave him a dirty look), and the lack of pollution. When we first got here the days were quite gray, but I think that may have been just moisture in the air with the humidity. We too have had a glorious autumn. Just two days of rain since we got here. Last night as we walked home from school at 7, it was a very balmy 22 degrees.
Change coming? – Starbucks this week is training a bunch of new baristas. This could be a problem for me since as of now they all know me and are already telling each other my order before I get to the counter!! Sigh, I guess it is time for me to get on home and wash the floors.