Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Things have been really busy around here. My friend Tanya's aye (domestic helper) asked me if I needed an aye because she had a friend, Xiao Yang, who was looking for work. I interviewed her and hired on the spot. My interview consisted of Tanya's driver translating questions like, do you cook? what hours can you work? do you know how to change diapers? She came the very same afternoon and stayed with the kids in the hotel room while I went to a meeting at Gemma's school. I am on the Fall Festival committee in charge of food. Imagine me signing up for something. The kids seem to enjoy their new babysitter and although I wasn't entirely comfortable leaving the kids with someone new and non-English speaking, but I knew I had to suck it up and get used to it. The great thing about Xiao Yang is that she is flexible and she absolutely loves children. When we move into our house she has agreed to work for us 6 days a week for 8 hours a day, which is pretty common hours. It will be nice to have help with the kids and the house.
I also made it to girls night out for the Chengdu International Women's Club (CIWC). There were about 13 woman, 9 from the US, 1 Canadian, 1 Kiwi, 1 from Slovenia, and 1 from Estonia. We met at a pretty fancy place that had great wine and fabulous desserts. (I didn't even think I could get wine in China, but I have been pleasantly surprised so far!) I am really enjoying this group of women. They are all very interesting and have moved to China for several different reasons. Most of the woman really love it here, so it gives me hope that I will grow to love it here too.
Today I made it to the 1st Starbuck's in Chengdu. I had an iced % latte and an "American Brownie". I ended up taking the kids back for lunch because they had a ton of food that I thought the kids might like and of course Gemma had to have a vanilla steamer. Now only if they had a pumpkin spice latte or frappuccinno...
I also made it to Carrefour for my first real grocery shopping experience. I needed to but groceries because we moved to a hotel room with a kitchen because we were so sick of eating out. I have to say this place a cook's dream. Everything is so cheap and the fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs are plentiful. I think I spent around $11 dollars and made it out of the stores with six bags of groceries. We only have a stove with two burners, but I was able to make fried egg sandwiches, homemade apple sauce and homemade potato soup. It was very yummy!
We are getting closer to finding a home. We looked at another place tonight and it was close to what we are looking for. We are going to look at something similar tomorrow and hopefully it will be the one. Keep your fingers crossed!
Tomorrow I am having my first authentic Chinese lunch with the wives of men from Jonny's company. Most of them have lived in Asia or China for the past 4 years, so I should get lots of survival tips.
My Chengdu of the day is do get a gym membership while living in China.
My Chengdon't of the day is don't run outside even on the side walk.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I don't know what is was about today that made me homesick. Maybe it was because my social life has slowed down considerably. Maybe it is because my 3rd niece (see Baby Abby) was born and I haven't had a chance to meet her or my other two new nephews. It might be that there is a totally different smell in the air here (I have a very sensitive sniffer.). Maybe it is because I am have been living in a hotel for the past 2 weeks and can't find a place to call our own. All that I know is when I was having lunch this afternoon I had huge pangs of homesickness.
I miss talking on the phone to my dad every chance I get. I have been lucky enough to talk to him a handful of times since we arrived, but I can't wait until we find a house and I can get myself a Vonage account!
I am really missing my friends. I am desperate to meet new friends here! I miss my book club. I miss my knitting group. I miss my MOMS Club.
I am really missing the dogs. I keep seeing people with their dogs here and think about how great it would be if we had our dogs with us. I know it is for the best right now since we don't have a house and they would be sitting in quarantine until who know when. Hopefully when we come home this summer we will be able to bring one of them back with us.
O.K., I have whined enough. Feel sorry for me? I have positive thoughts for this week. I plan on finding a house and also I am planning on going into the grocery store and try to sort out what everything is since it is all written in Chinese.
Tomorrow I am going to the grand opening of Starbuck's in Chengdu. There are actually two opening this week. This should help my homesickness a little.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Yesterday I found out my computer would take another 2,600 RMB ($325) to fix. If they don't fix it, then I don't have to pay for it, but I am really in desperate need of my own PC. I should get it back next week. The hard thing about the whole situation is that I have been relying on people to translate to the computer guy, who doesn't speak a lick of English. It is kind of like the telephone game, you tell your translator on thing and you have to just wonder if they are really relaying the entire message to him. We will see as of next Friday.
On the home front, we have not found a home. We looked at two more today and still no cigar. We are really getting frustrated with the real estate agents here as the business seems to be very cut throat. Rent prices are also all over the yard here. There is no consistency at all. We hope that we will go out again on Monday, but we can't even get anyone to call us back. Very frustrating!
My Chengdu is do visit the Marine Bar.
My Chengdon't is don't expect the Chinese to deal in real estate like they do in the U.S.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
After lunch we stopped by Sabrina's Country Store, which is a little shop that has Western snack/foods for outrageous prices. I was trying to find some snacks for the kids that I actually could read the label. Much to my dismay I ended up buying a small jar of applesauce, which had high fructose syrup, Cheese-its with hydrogenated oil, and Sun-Mail raisins. I would not normally buy these things, but when you are thousands of miles away from home and don't speak, nevermind read Chinese, you do what you have to do.
We headed to Carrefour, which is the major supermarket that has about everything, to buy a cell phone. Cell phones are a little different here. You don't get to head to T-Mobile and get your free phone with a one year contract. You actually have to buy the phone and then go and buy your SIM card. I was trying to buy a cheap phone, but ended up spending a $150 on a fairly basic phone, but happily paid a total of $3.75 for my SIM card and a deposit of $8.75 for roughly about 2,333 minutes.
On the computer front, I tried to call the guy who has my computer twice. Both times he said "I am not interested in speaking English." I thought he thought I was a telemarketer trying sell English classes, so I asked Joseph to call him. I found out that they are still working on the computer and there may be other problems, but should have it finished tomorrow. So much for the $12.50 to get it fixed.
On the home front, we may have secured a place to hang our hats. It is a massive 5 bedroom with maid quarters, a garage, and a nice roof patio. I am thrilled with the room especially since I won't be the one cleaning it, but mostly because there is plenty of room for guest. Brian, Pam, Jeanette, Sid, Caroline, John, Inez, Quincy, Dad, Mom, etc. get ready to book your tickets!
My Chengdu of the day is smile at the people who stare at you while because you are a Westerner.
My Chengdon't of the day is don't flip them off when they stare at you because it means something totally different here.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
We went up to the 2nd floor to a room where a doctor took our blood pressure, height, weight and did an EKG. The blood pressure machine and EKG were ancient. They were something we may have used in the US back in the 1920's. I have to say I have never had an EKG, but I imagine that the things they stick to your body are disposable. Not here, they were old pieces of rubber suction cups that made me cringe with the thought of them touching my body. After that experience I was desperate for a shower.
Next we were onto a room where Jonny and I both had ultrasounds. I am happy to say that I am not with child again, but Jonny is pregnant with twins! Jonny was joking with the doctor, who knew very little English, but had a great sense of humor. She told him he was having twins! Whoopee!!!
Then we were off for our blood. It was a very interesting way to give blood. You stick your arm through a hole in the glass and they stick you with a really fat needle. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I felt like I was at the bank giving blood and I don't meet the blood bank.
We headed back down stairs where we had a vision test and they doctor look up our noses, in our mouth and ears. You know how we have nice wooden tongue depressors? Well they tried to stick a metal one in my mouth and I freaked out on them. I asked them if it was clean and he said yes and said something like, "You don't think Chinese medicine is clean!Â They were very offended, but I didn't care. I was just imagining all of the mouths those instruments were in, ISH!
Lastly was the chest x-ray, which luckily I didn't have to do because they noticed I had a baby with me and asked me if I was still nursing! Yes I still am and proud of it! This is another great reason to nurse your baby as long as possible. You don't have to take your shirt off in front of 20+ strange Chinese men.
Well, we survived through the exam. Hopefully we pass otherwise they will ship us back home. Tell me, do you think you could have made it through this exam? I think we have it pretty good in the US.
My Chengdu of the day is do take a shower after your immigration physical.
My Chendon't of the day is don't forget your own wooden tongue depressors.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Not much news today. I went out with our driver today, but it looks like Jonny will be firing him very soon. He grew up in Chengdu and it seems that we no more about getting around the city than he does. We also tried a new restaurant for dinner called Peter's. It is a Tex-Mex place and I have to say it wasn't bad. I had fajitas, which were tasty. They even had sour cream, which totally surprised me. I do have to say the tortillas were a bit on the flourery side, but eatable.
My Chengdu for the day is BYOT, bring your own tortillas!
My Chengdon't for the day is don't get to emotionally attached to your driver.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
As for today, we found a scrummy Indian restaurant just down the street from the hotel. Tomorrow we have our immigration physical, which we have heard is very strange.
My Chengdu for the day is wash your hands after touching almost anything here.
My Chengdon't for the day is don't for get your Purell before you come for a visit.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
After the cell phone shopping and laundry we all headed to Joyce's BBQ Grill, a new western restaurant in Chengdu. We walked into the place and we ran into about 3 people that Jonny and David work with. Small world amongst 10 million people! We had a nice lunch where Gemma was able to have homemade Mac and Cheese, which I was very impressed with, Jonny had a Philly Cheesesteak and I had a hamburger and french fries. I felt very much at home, except for 4 adult meals + 3 kids meals set us back only $20!
Tanya took me to the Costco like shopping center called Metro. It had clothes, toys, appliances, food, etc. I bought a few snacks for the kids and a couple of bottles of wine for snacks for us! It was also very reasonable! I am really looking forward to getting our own place because I will be cooking up a storm! They have such great produce! They have fresh herbs at a miniscule price! They have a small western food section which included things like Campbell's soup, Miracle Whip, dry cereals and cake mixes.
I asked Jonny to come up with the Chengdu and don't for today...
The Chengdu of the day is eat at Joyce's BBQ.
The Chengdon't of the day is don't forget you passport when you are trying to buy a cell phone.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Today was very relaxing to me for the most part. While the kids napped I was able to actually read, not skim the paper and I worked on my clapotis that I am knitting.
I almost forgot to mention, I went to my first book club meeting last night. It was great meeting the other members of the Chengdu International Women's Club. Most everyone was their either as Intel employees/wives, consulate employees/wives or teachers at Gemma's school. It was a great group, but quite a bit tamer then my old group. We are reading My Sister's Keeper for the October meeting, which looks really good. I have also agreed to teach the group how to knit!
My Chengdu of the day is get excited when you see something you don't expect to see. For example, I let out a yell in the car when we drove by a yarn shop in Chengdu!. Whoopeee!!!
My Chengdon't of the day is don't drink too much wine upon arriving in a new city and then attempt to walk home by yourself.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
We were looking forward to our day today, because today was the day we were going to find a new place to call home. Unfortunately my hopes were a little too high. We had put a place called China Garden high on our list of prospective new homes. We looked at 5 different house within this compound and there was only one that I liked, but it was so kid unfriendly. There were 3 flights of stairs to get to the place and then 2 flights inside of it. There were also two balconies, which make me very nervous. The place was spacious enough and had very nice furniture. It also had a patio with a koi pond on the roof, which was really cool. On the brightside of house hunting, after we pick a place to lease, I will be able to go shopping with the landlord and pick out furniture and appliances. Whoopeee!!!
We returned back to the hotel for lunch and decided that we would take our time getting into a place instead of jumping in and regretting our decision. Jonny went to pick Gemma up from school and I put Angus down for his afternoon nap. Gemma had a great day at school! She met lots of new kids, her class is the largest with 12 kids. The director of the school and her teacher said she had no problems at all. She is already looking forward to school again tomorrow!
Jonny headed out with our relo guy, Patric again this afternoon. I decided that if he sees anything worthwhile, I would go and look at it tomorrow while he is at work.
In exciting social news, I am going to attend my first Chengdu International Women's Club meeting tonight. They are having book club and I am very excited to attend as I am going to miss my book club at home so much!!! I hope they are great fun like the girls back home!
My Chengdu of the day is eat Chinese Dim Sum food for breakfast. Mmmmmm....pan-fried dumplings!!!!
My Chendon't of the day is don't have too high of expectations of any situations. You will be disappointed if you do! It is always better to be pleasantly surprised.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
We have been up since 3 a.m., which is noon AZ time, but I am determined to stay up today. This morning we went out with Patric and visited the Global Doctors, which was pretty incredible. We met a couple of the doctors, one who is from South America and seems extremely personable and knowledgeable. We also went to visit Gemma's new school, QSI. We were so impressed by the school we were ready to leave Gemma there and then. I am going back tonight to a back to school assembly and will be able to meet the other parents. I was pleasantly surprised to meet a couple of the mother's from Gemma's class. Tanya, who just moved from Oregon, has a 3 year old, Tea who hopefully will become Gemma new playmate! After the school we were able to check out a supermarket. It was pretty good and very cheap! We picked up some noodles, sodas, beer, and a bottle of Australian wine for the room and got out of there under $20.
My Cheng"do" for the day is stay at the Kempinski if you are ever in Chengdu.
My Cheng"don't" is don't drive a bicycle, moped, or car in China.
Monday, September 05, 2005
I hope everyone will enjoy my new blog. Please comment often! I hope it will make the distance between us not seem so far away.