Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sideways Rain

Click on the picture to get a larger clearer view.
This is just outside our home as we walk to the school.

The weather here is not like any I have ever experienced. This morning I was about to leave the apartment when I looked outside and a cloud burst had just started. Sideways rain that gets you very wet. Everyone has an umbrella but using it and a nylon raincoat only helps in a minimal way. My shoulders were soaked and took about 2 hours to dry out after I got to school. It has rained here every day at some point, but one since we came. Bev asked after the first week, "Do you think we will ever see blue sky or the sun or stars and moon?" Well it did happen but it was only for one day and it was very beautiful. Most days look like a bad winter day in Seattle only much warmer and somewhat wetter, even when it isn't raining. I am told that the weather will change, I am hoping for something different. The pic is just outside the front door of our building this morning as we left. It is Typhoon season!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fishing Boats in Shekou

This is the fishing boats that come into Shekou ever evening. Bev and I went out to the man made harbor and I took some pictures. You can see this area from our apartment.

Hiring an “Ayi” (domestic helper?) pronounced like long I E

Domestic help are referred to as “Ayi”, which means “auntie” Now this was just very sad! The school asked some of the household women to come to the school where we, Bev not me, and the other female spouses interviewed them for positions as household helpers. About twice as many women showed up that were needed. They all wanted jobs, and sitting in rows of chairs smiling as part of the job hiring process, of course there were no applications, or skills screening process. Apparently, it is just show up, smile and hope to be chosen. We had previously worked out things like how three families would share one person. However, our QSI interpreter told us that we had to hire more girls. We ended up sharing one with a family here that has three children. We will have Bing Chow (That is her first name Americanized), three days a week four hours a day and they will have her the rest of the time. Every family negotiates with their Ayi how much to pay etc. Bev and Suzy negotiated the salary and working conditions in about five minutes. She makes the equivalent of $2.50 per hour so our cost is about $110 a month. Bing Chow is very nice, I thought she was about 18 but she is 27. She says she has worked for four different families before. She starts today. (The morning after we hired her) so we’ll see. Although hiring Chinese is not required, it does seem to be expected from the (Rich, American teachers).

Ok! Update on Bing Chow, after Bev had left the house and came over to Starbucks I discovered that I did not have the charger for my computer. Bev went back to get it and check on Bing Chow, good thing she was cleaning the floor using the can of RAID we had purchased due to an ant invasion, as the cleaner. We have since talked to her a couple of times and I think she will work out. We just need to help her with what she needs to do and how to do it. We left our business card with her to let her know where we worked, so she came to school and Tim was called to the office because she couldn’t finish the laundry and she wanted to keep her job. She is very anxious to please, and we will have to adjust her schedule. Really counting on her job for her family she says! Here is a picture of Bing Chow on the left and Julie the interpreter and an employee of QSI. Bing Chow is on the left in the photograph.

Off to IKEA

I have never seen more than 6 on one motorcycle
Interesting vehicle (there are many) going down the road.
Most trucks are blue.

Unbelievable! I saw so…. many wild and crazy things, I could write a book. What was suppose to be a 7 hour adventure, 2 hours to IKEA in Guangdong 3 hours shopping, 2 hours back ended up taking a total of 14 hours! Our driver had no clue how to get back home and apparently he couldn’t read the signs that we could read telling us how to get on the freeway. The school Interpreter fell asleep on the bus so … After 2 hours on the bus we had covered less than 10 km through the heart of Guangdong, kind of like driving down Seattle’s Aurora but much more colorful. If there is a long, slow way to do things the Chinese will find it. They are wonderful people and smile at everything, trying to be very helpful but this is a very unorganized society. On driving, “I will never drive in China.” Lets just say driving in China is crazy!!! You see everything from people sweeping the freeway with no warning signs or orange safety vest even to the semi on a divided four-lane freeway that was in our far right lane and headed toward us at about the same 50 mph that we were going down the road! We changed lanes and avoided it, he just continued on. Our driver stopped twice in heavy traffic and ran over to other drivers to ask directions. People where darting in and out of traffic on foot trying to sell just about anything. One guy had phone chargers for sale hanging on a wire hanger. Horns are used as the universal signal for any and all situations. The roads are primarily filled with buses and small to large trucks most of them faded blue. IKEA was just like any IKEA accept they had 5 times as many employees. The simplest task I observed was the job of dusting the plastic wrap on items. Oh! the other thing is that all large objects are kept in a warehouse that is a two-hour drive from the store. This meant that much of what people bought had to be trucked to us later. This made the whole process slightly more difficult.

Buying Phones August 13, 2007

On the way back from the Hospital experience we went to a place (Sunning) to buy phones. It was a very large store that dealt in electronics. It was kind of a Best Buy plus, but with no little accessories. They had at least 100 phones to choose from. We chose one and asked to buy two phones. (They gave us the English speaking clerk, yahoo) After we paid for them, as they were about to put them into the bag they discovered that they only had one phone, they did a store search but only one phone was available. So we went back to pick out a different phone, as we wanted the same charger and operations for both. All through out this process we were waited on by a total of 14 people at the phone counter. Really, I counted they all wore the same colored shirts. After our second choice, which also turned out to be only one boxed phone, they finally found one that would work for us and they had two! We had many others to choose from but they were more expensive. Ours cost about $53.00 each, we just wanted a basic small phone. Oh! it took 8 people to ring this up. Total time at least an hour and a half. Oh! Did I mention that this was our third attempt at trying to get this done and the problems are sometimes language, but not always is that the case.