Wu Wu! Shou qi lai!

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June 6th 2007
Published: June 6th 2007
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It's good to be back in the wu. That is, the suburb of beijing, just outside the fourth ring road, directly north of xizhimen (for those who know their beijing geography), and about twenty km or so (we think) northish of tiananmen (for those who don't). This is the area we stayed in when we were here last, and it's all hapnin now. Yay! However, beijing internet cafes really don't like usb drives being plugged in, and so there are no photos. Hopefully we'll have our own computer soon so can post lots next time!

First things first. About 15 metres outside our front door (once you've climbed down the five floors of steps - we're getting fitter again!) is THE BEST noodle shop in the world. For 10 kuai (around $1.60) you get 2 bowls of massive, freshly made noodles. They make them right then and there. We bring the bowls, they put the noodles with egg and tomato, or beef, or tofu and vegies into the bowls, and then we take them upstairs and eat them. We couldn't cook that cheaply ourselves, and they taste way better than anything we could ever make. Won't ever be eating any other kinds of noodles again. Except maybe Dixon's.

As for our Beijing Duck cravings, we have moved in behind our favourite beijing duck restaurant in Beijing. I mean our favourite. A duck costs around 48 kuai here (its gone up 10 kuai in the last 3 1/2 years dammit!), but thats still less than 8 bucks aussie. And that does a couple of people. Alan sent us an email, telling us that he was wishing us and our health all the best and that we'd moved in next to a gym and not awesome restaurants. Sorry Alan. On a different note, we have to walk at least 5 minutes to get those 2.5 kuai pancakes that have egg, and chilli, and spring onion and a youbing for breakfast. Bugger. 5 minutes.

The bike escapade:
Well, we live in Beijing now, so obviously we need bikes. After 1 week of madly searching for some second hand bikes, which everyone said were impossible to get in the area, we found a man who selling some next to where we buy pancakes. He got two out for us, that look pretty shit but seemed to go ok (if you get a shitty looking bike the chances are lower that it will get stolen, plus there's no point buying anything that goes over 2km/h anyway cos of the traffic madness and mayhem), we tried them out and bought them for an ok price. The next morning, Sof's had a flat tyre, so we took it to the nearby fix-a-bike (which there are a lot of) to get a new tyre and tube. Ok. Then 5 minutes later the brakes jammed on. So we went back to the fix-a-bike and they said that they could fix it, but upon further inspection found about 10 more problems with the bike. So we went back to the first guy who sold us the bikes in the first place and told him we wanted a swap. So we swapped the first shit bike for a second, having bought a new tyre and stuff but he told us that the bike that we had swapped it for was a better one (which it is, it really is) so he would charge us no more money but would keep the new tyre which we had bought from the other place only half an hour before (but seemed like 2 hours). Anyway, the new bike works fine. Later that day, the other bike got a flat, and Zac angrily went back to the dodgiest bike seller/fixer in the world to demand a free change. A free tube yes, a free tyre no. (Insert Fergus style anger here). Right. So Mr Mafan Man (mafan means a pain in the arse, in chinese) has changed a falling to bits tube for a new one. This new one hasn't died. Yet.
However, Sof's basket fell off the front today. We're gonna hit the other repair place.

There are many more adventures to speak of, like arriving in Beijing at 2 in the morning and getting in a cab with a driver who told us that he knew where to go, but didn't, and didn't have a map, and our adventures meeting Irene and Anthony, Dixon's friends that were introduced to us, and our drinking adventures with an English couple for our housewarming (did we mention that 50m from our house is where to buy cartons of beer, 24 600ml yanjings for 48 kuai, thats less than 8 bucks!!) where we drank way to much beer and erguotou and then sof had to go to work at 9 the next morning, but these adventures are too much to tell now. So keep the emails coming, keep the comments coming, and enjoy the life that is in Oz.

And here be Sof:

I would like to add that we have actually signed up for a gym. So somehow the bike-riding, stair climbing and gym work should balance out the food. SHOULD. We'll see.

I think i have learnt 2 things since being here. Don't put Beijing-ers behind a shopping trolley or in a swimming pool with no lap lanes. It's kinda like being out on the roads. They have an uncanny awareness of what's around (eyes in the back of the head perhaps) without actually looking. Which is something that i dont have. Consequently, i look pretty stupid trying to steer a trolley around everyone else and doing freestyle continually looking forwards (perhaps this is why doing breaststroke is so popular).

Beware all.... Zac has just found an ultimate frisbee club in beijing on the net. Uh-oh.

We love our new apartment! It has 2 bedrooms (plenty of room for visitors...hint hint!!!), a living room, kitchen, bathroom and laundry-corridor type of thing. Fully furnished. Yay! Oh, and it came with Hu-Hu the fish. How could i forget! We have already had some adventures with the landlord who only shouts. (He can not speak at a normal level. So there is absolutely no chance that i have a clue what he is saying. Luckily, he likes Zac and they seem to work everything out.) We had no hot water for the first 24 hours in the shower. Mr. Shouty is however an engineer (yes, confirming the fact that all you engineers out there are eccentric) and fixed the hot water problem with a piece of string. We also managed to freeze our cold water dispenser last night. It is now defrosted, but we are yet to work out the best method for preventing this.

We have had an awesome time with Daisy and Vinnie (mentionned above as the english couple) who we met on the sleeper bus from the mongolian border to Beijing. Its amazing that they still keep visiting even though they met me when I had a 12 hour disgusting tummy bug (with the 12 hour mark just finishing before getting on the bus with no toilet - phew!) and that Zac introduced them to erguotou. They also bought us lovely flowers and a housewarming present (we love these guys)!

Job interviews are happening. By next week we should know where we are at. Yay!

Anyways, enough said. Off to buy a pancake for lunch.

Sorry again for the lack of photos. Bring on our computer! Then we'll overload you with them!


Ps. We went t-shirt shopping yesterday. We have a new theory on dorkage. The PDF. Potential Dorkage Factor. Wow. What a lot of dorkage at that market! (Im sure you can integrate this into your life Stevie G.)


6th June 2007

Bike wise
watch out your bikes!!! A friend of mine in beijing lost 6 of them in 2 years. we only lost a couple in 3 years.
6th June 2007

Hey guys, I am so happy that you are back in familiar surroundings. Travel is all the better for arriving home and it sounds like you are enjoying your new home. I am slightly jealous of you being able to set up house as a newly married couple; Ana and I won't get that opportunity until Jan and have no idea which city yet (possibly Canberra, insert vomit noises). Good luck finding work and I am sure you will find fun things to do in order to get your dreams up and running. Ana and I have already pencilled Beijing in for our next holiday. Only have to get jobs and get there. How does just after the Olympics sound? Probably will only be able to come for 3 or 4 weeks what with actually working jobs and all but if you'll have us we'll be there. We are missing you desperately and are so jealous of Celeste who will be seeing you shortly after catching up with us in Brittany (my own haven of familiariaty and love). All my love. Chas. Btw, don't think Steve is the only person around who should be taking advantage of the PDF... Zac.
6th June 2007

huanying guanlin!
Hey Zac and Sof, Have been loving all your blogs so far, but this one was just too much! I couldn't stop laughing, smiling, feeling like I was there in BJ with yers!! You're missing nothing back here in Oz - just go and enjoy china guys :-) A couple of things: a) i'm surprised the bikes lasted that long; half hour means a quality bike b) i'm thrilled the price of beer is still so cheap!! (who needs expensive duck when you've got er guo tou (and i assume yangrou chuanr?) c) "Fergus style anger".... love it!! it's just not mafan unless you've got Ferg and his tones next to ya :-) d) Zac you checked out any music yet?? Keep up the updates, i'm loving them! All the best, Wade
6th June 2007

Guys, great to see some Ferg-Style Anger (FSA) happening there! It was funny, I was reading your description and I just started picturing myself in that situation and started mentally abusing the prick who sold me the dodgy bike, and then you mentioned my anger! Classic! Just don't get stuck in LiJiang, OK?! The place sounds great - glad to hear it's all going well. Reading about China made me feel very nostalgic! I'll be coming to visit at some point!! Much love Ferg
13th June 2007

Dodgy bikes
You guys had me in stitches with your bike descriptions. How lovely for you to have set up house as newlyweds!! (Awwww) have a great time and if you're there in China for long enough I might get to see you! Xx
15th June 2007

dodgy bikes
Your bike story reminded me of my troubles when i first bought my bike in Mbale (and mine was new) i think it was the assembly were it all went wrong? I have to say it all sounds very cool, moving to a new suburb can often be a painfull hassle but to Beijing to live wow! good work chaps! ciao.

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