Saturday, August 18, 2007
This is the view from our balcony again. You'll probably see many pics from here. The ship has been landlocked for quite a long time. It currently has about 5 or 6 restaurants on board. I have not been to any of them. Also you can see a pic that shows the school in the back ground. Bev's room is a corner room where I have pointed.
It rained no poured all night, sometimes hitting the window so hard it woke me up. Ok so today is Health Exam day. Started at 10:00 am with paperwork at the school. Ended at 4:45. Should have taken a total of two hours. But due to the language barrier and the way the Chinese do everything, slowly, it took a while. The people here say the Chinese exam is the most rigorous compared to other countries. When we were actually examined it was like an assembly line going in and out of rooms for different specific tests. I am glad I got to see a Chinese hospital before I really needed to go to one. Methods, cleanliness, and equipment are pre 1960’s! Just a little scary. Bev and I made them change gloves from the ones they used for the previous 10 people before they took a blood sample! I don’t even want to picture in my mind again the x-ray machine. Very scary! And I stood behind it!
Friday, August 17, 2007
After doing some exploring in the general area that we live. You find that there are four restaurants for every other business venture. Many of these are small some are primarily bars but many are very upscale. Right where we live is a major tourist spot for the Chinese nationals. I am not sure what the attraction is other than the restaurants and lots of street vendor type of places, may the sea. Bev and I walked over to a very, very traditional Chinese restaurant and were able to order our meal two items both more than we could eat one was traditional Jaiosa (sp) dumplings and the other was a noodle chicken dish, handmade noodles. No one stared which means that we must be doing ok with the procedure to prepare to eat and the use of chopsticks. Oh by the way our meal was 21rmb or a little less than $3.00 US for both of us including tea. But don’t get the idea that everything is inexpensive a McDonalds hamburger is more than $3.00 itself without fries and a coke and anything at Starbucks is about 20% more expensive.
We decided to treat ourselves to a foot massage. It was almost 5:00 p.m. and so we thought we would do that quickly and then go to get some dinner. They the young girls dressed in what looks like gowns for a evening ball or prom took us upstairs to the massage rooms. We cleared up what massage we wanted and then were seated in big lounge chairs and brought a tall cold drink. Pretty soon they our two masseuses #102 #111 two very young gentleman came with a bucket of very hot brown mineral water in a wooden bucket it felt great. Soon they had us sit on ottomans, still in the bucket of hot water, while they started working on our back, neck, arms etc. This went on for about 30 min. then they started on our feet. Mine were callused and, well pretty unattractive. They suggested a scraping. I agreed! They came out with a towel that had what looked like very thin chisels with no handle just cold steel and a very sharp blade. I was starting to re-think this procedure. Well they worked on each foot for about 20 minutes carving layers of dead dried skin off. It made quite a pile. Yuk! After the massage and wraps I think I had the softest feet I have ever had. Oh total time almost two hours. Total cost about $13.50 for both Bev and I. We may have to do that again!
Setting up a bank account at the bank the school told us to set-up with was an experience. The school actually took most of and helped assist with the Chinese forms. That was an interesting hour. I had some US $ that I wanted to put in so that we could access it when needed with our newly issued debit card. We were taken to a room on the side of the main teller area that was labeled VIP they gave us drinks and had us wait. When I gave them my hundred dollar bills they brought in a special bank examiner. Each bill was carefully scrutinized for about a minute then they ran them through a machine they made a stack of those they would accept and those they would not. They handed back 4 hundreds and told me they were broken. I could not see why but upon closer examination some had small nicks in the edge of the bills. So I guess I had broken money. We exchanged it with the school and were able to get it into the bank and exchanged for Chinese RMB. Total time about 3 hours.
Monday, August 13, 2007
First Day in China.
We made it. It is a long, long day just over 24 hours from the time we left our SeaTac hotel until we stepped foot into our new apartment in Shekou. It was tiring but we had nothing really out of the ordinary during the trip. All of our baggage made it. It had been unpacked and not very neatly re-packed but all items seemed to have come. We met our traveling companions Ed and Becky with their 3year old Owen in San Francisco. We were in the same row of seats with them and were able to help each other out. I have to give major kudos to anyone that is traveling that distance with a small child. Owen did great, time change, 36,000 feet tight seating, strange food. He is into anything related to fire fighting and quickly points anything he sees, like a blue fire extingisher, out. We traveled by van from the destination to our final destination. Four border passport checks later and a very interesting ride and we were home. I am now more than ever convinced that I will not ever drive in China. 120 km and a good 6 feet behind the car in front of us was normal driving, while our driver balanced up to three cell phones and had conversations on all of them!
We are on the 19th floor of a building that has 20 floors, so one is still above us. Our apartment is better than we expected. The building is somewhat old but our place has had some remodeling and is pretty nice. We have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room/dining room, and a small kitchen with a laundry room off that. A total of about 1200 sq feet I am told. It has some furnishings and we will be buying some additional things.
After we were helped in dropping our bags in our place. We went to dinner with other QSI families that had just arrived in the past week. Britt, our principal, took us to a great restaurant. Very authentic Chinese food, served in the traditional Chinese methods. Lots of great dishes. Much of it I did not recognize but it all tasted great and I tried everything. We learned hot to wash our plate, cup and chopsticks with tea prior to eating. This is one of Britt’s, (The school director’s), favorite places. We don’t know the name, he said he just calls it the red lantern place.
Since then we have been on information overload. Everyone is discovering new things and places to purchase needed items. We have lots to learn. So far we today, now yesterday since I must go to Starbucks to get the internet until mine is installed, we have eaten at a few different restaurants. Britt took us on a short walking tour that included going to the school and taking us and another couple out to lunch. Had our picture taken for visa, tried to buy mobile phones and services, and took a bus to Wa Maa. Otherwise known as Walmart. (Sorry Bill but there are not a lot of choices for us yet) We were there with another couple and their two girls they had gone a few times prior, otherwise there had to be 10,000 Chinese there at the same time. Sunday afternoon is not the time to go. I know my pics don’t show the crowds due to the fact that I wasn’t suppose to be taking pics at all, but I snuck a couple in so you could see it isn’t like Walmart in the US.
Met a great couple in our building that have been with QSI for 17 years. They are Dutch and have a 13 year old son. He, along with many of the other teachers I have met has a Mac laptop and is also a very avid photographer. Case is in charge of curriculum and a few other things and his wife Evona is one of the Art teachers. They have a three bedroom apartment that faces the other direction on the 9th foor.
We are going to try again today to get cell phones and will also try to call a few people from Starbucks which is very noisy and kind of expensive. Actually about 20% higher than the US.