(Ed. note: Thanks to all of you who commented on how fabulous I looked in my new suit. I agree. LOL. On another note, the world is a strange place. As I was writing yesterday’s post I thought, and in fact said to Terry, that maybe it was time to wind down The Jiaxing Express, that it seems to have devolved into just a diary of our daily lives rather than observations of the differences in the cultures. Perhaps it isn’t of much interest anymore. It was quite heartening therefore, to not only get 5 comments but have Bruce and Lois both comment on how much they still enjoy it. Therefore we will persevere – you can always delete the email, I guess.)
Today we are in Starbucks. I observed two of the three parental behaviours which drive me crazy in China.
One: Miserable father. It was about 11:00 Sunday morning and this father is working on something with his daughter. At one point, he literally ripped the paper his daughter was working on from her, threw it at her and then told her to pick it up. At another point he was berating her and she sat with her head down and staring straight down for a good minute. It was all I could do not to go over and say something to him.
Two The Ignoring Parents These parents sat for at least 40 minutes ignoring their two little girls, ages 6-7, who just ran around and around and around and around…. If the girls went up to their table, they just kept on talking and ignored them. I know it was at least 40 minutes because they were there when we got there and still there when we left. Many times on the weekend Starbucks is the children’s playground.
Three You are Never Too Big to Carry This is one which we saw yesterday. It was stinking hot – 32-34 degrees when we see two kids in the 6-7 year old range demanding to be picked up and carried – and the parents immediately complied. Sadly, I didn’t see it happening today, but rest assured, it was occurring somewhere.
Also yesterday outside Starbucks, an example of the fashionable summer attire – shorts/short skirt with veil.
And on a more pleasant note, here is the canal which runs through our complex.
(Ed. note: The next part of this post is an email Terry wrote to two of our incoming staff members. Friday, when it was 34+ degrees, she was out looking at apartments for them. As she looked at the 7 apartments she got hotter and hotter since none of them had air conditioning on. When she finally got home she went straight to the fridge got a beer, poured it into a glass and drank it down.)
First stop, our building, 2nd floor. I was really optimistic because I knew it was a 2 bedroom, like ours. Not like ours, as it turned out. Really hard-worn. When I opened the handle-less drawer under the bathroom sink, water sloshed around. No, I said, and we left.
Next, same complex but phase 1. It’s on Hongbo Lu (same as us) but the next block over. Promising. Huge place, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, fab views of the Jiaxing Greenway across the street but some issues. One of the bathrooms has one of those corner showers, very small and grotty. The second one has a “soaker tub” which no one in their right mind would use as a soaker but at least it is a bit roomier for showering. It has an enclosure so it is meant for shower and bath. The problem is that all the fixtures are corroding. The owner will replace them all, plus all the shower bars, etc with new. He will also replace the fridge which is a must.
Here are the positives: comfy living room furniture, loads of space, view, decent kitchen but the whole place is 10 years old, which is nothing in Canada, but you know it means well-used in China. Still it is definitely an option.
We looked at 3 more horror stories in addition to the one in our building—enough said but suffice to say they are walk-ups which, on a day like today, is a killer. There is one that I think is not bad. The location is good—right behind Jiang Nan Mall and yes, it is a 4 storey walk-up with the apt on the 4th floor. However, 2 bed and 1 bath, an additional reading room (which is a bit weird but has a desk so who knows). Nice stuffed leather couch, good storage. The bathroom sink is outside the bathroom which also has the washer. There is no storage there but they would install shelves or a cabinet or something on the side wall above the sink. The bathroom has a corner shower but larger and cleaner than the one in Chun Xiao Yuan (our complex).
Final stop, right across from the school in a brand new building. This apartment has never been lived in so it is pristine. I was really excited: 3 bedrooms, large kitchen, and living area. Then I looked at the bathroom, which to me is the deal breaker. It is somewhat amazing to me that anyone would put in a bathroom this small in a place that’s obviously meant to have at least 3 people living in it. However, it may be workable so consider everything first. Again, a corner shower stall but not one that is too small. I actually got right inside to check whether you had room to move in there, and you do. Open the stall and come out—toilet to your right (right to your right—no extra room), sink one step beyond that on the cross wall. A bit of counter and a small storage component below it. Ridiculous mirror—I would have to hunch to see into it. Behind the door is the washing machine. You would have to go in and close the door to do laundry. However, consider this:
Directly across the hall is the third, small bedroom. I think it would be workable to put in a vanity table there and another mirror (the owner would pay). Lots of plugs for additional light and hairdryers. One person would have to shower, then move across to “finish.”
Next problem: living room furniture is not really living room furniture. It’s balcony sized patio furniture—2 settees made out of fake rattan about the size of 1.5 North Americans, and a small table. I told the guy that they were good for drinking cold beer on the deck in the summer but pitiful for relaxing after a hard day of work. He is going to ask the owner if the will buy a proper couch.
The kitchen, meanwhile is fabulous—roomy and brand new!
Terry and Geoff – Jiaxing’s Top Fashionistas