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Published: June 16th 2007
It sums up the life here. Night time. During the day the weather is hot hot hot, but when the sun goes down, the place buzzes! Street vendors appear selling books, jewellery, clothing and food.... all of which must be resisted until the first paycheck arrives! Bugger!
The quirkiness of this city never ends. Everyday there is something else that surprises us and makes us laugh. We went to IKEA last week to boost our kitchen shelving from nothing to something. Just outside the gigantic blue building was what we have fondly named "FAKE IKEA". Why we didnt see it coming is a mystery. A short market street of people selling things that should be inside IKEA, outside. At a quarter of the cost. Needless to say, our first port of call shall now be FAKE IKEA. I feel a business idea coming on...
We are being good little people and regularly using our gym membership. Of course, there is no english at the gym. But I am building up a lovely friendship with the man who looks after the pool, who is continually telling me what to do in Chinese. But ive figured it out: you're not allowed to wander the gym in your bathers - you must use the secret door out the back of the shower room (that was a fun one-way conversation with lots of pointing), you must have the right shoes to come into the pool area and you must wear a swimming cap at all times (which involved my first swim having to be done in someone else's swimming cap. yum.). Somehow, i think i am also missing out on the meditations at the beginning of every yoga class. At least the teacher has worked out that i dont understand and she just yanks my body into the right place if im doing the wrong thing. It is also strictly nudie-up in the changerooms, which is kinda cool. Nudie-up in a way that you would never see at home. Yay for the chilled-out-ness of the city! It's a beautiful thing.
THE BIKE ESCAPADE CONTINUES:
Check out my leg! (Ok, well you can't check out my leg. we've tried and tried but we just cant get photos on here. the laptop is on its way. then you will be bombarded. especially with those of my leg. what a leg) I have the BEST bruise ever from my bike. And that's not the only one! Zac has got into the habit of watching me everytime i get on and off the bike, just so he can have a giggle! I have ended up with a very tall boys bike, but im being stubborn and not swapping with Zac because i am convinced that i have better brakes than him. I have tied a red ribbon onto mine, so i can find it in the hundreds of bikes along the street. Yesterday, Zac said to me "It's ok now, i know which is my bike.... the one with only one pedal!" As i said, the bike escapade continues.
Thankfully we have only spent 5 ducks on our 2 bikes (including purchase price). We have stopped converting back to aussie dollars when purchasing. And for your benefit too, so you don't have to keep dividing by 6. It's too unrealistic. We now convert in comparison to beijing duck.
A carton of beer = 3/4 of a duck. (with the 1/96 refund per glass bottle)
A new pedal for my bike = 1/12th of a duck.
Unfortunately, we had to pay 35/19th of a duck each to see Pirates 3. And ride for over half an hour to get there. We assumed that the cinema near our apartment would having screenings in english. But we have all learnt that lesson about assumption from Lock, Stock. We will now stick to buying dodge dvds.
Ah yes. Dodge DVDs. Nothing like it. Our first attempt at Casino Royale (which we had bought from an honest and law abiding subway station dealer) turned out to be overdubbed in Russian. So we went down to one of our local shops and bought a 'higher quality' copy (which means it has a hard case and costs 1/5 duck not 1/10), only to find that it was in Russian also, despite the chick assuring me that it was in English. Refunds are not allowed. So we swapped it for Kill Bill and third time lucky got Casino Royale in English from another local. But that bit of mafan (pain in the arse, remember? an important thing to note here) was nothing compared to trying to get a box set of Rowan Atkinson stuff the other day. This box set comprised of the thin blue line, mr bean, the bean movie, and something else which I assumed was probably Black Adder. However, when it comes to buying box sets, you have to pay immediately, and then come back between 2 and 8 the next afternoon to pick it up. So, 24 hours later I returned to pick up the box set. No worries; it just took them 5 minutes to go and get it. On taking it home, however, I realised that what I thought was Black Adder was actually the same episodes of Mr Bean, just taped off the original VHS release, while the Mr Bean Mr Bean discs were the original episodes from the 2003 DVD release. And one of the 5 thin blue line discs was huai le (means doesn't work, another extremely inevitable phrase here). So I took it back and explained it to them, and they said that they were happy to fix my problem, just come back between 2 and 8 tomorrow.
Day 3. Trying to get a box set of DVDs minus the FSA (ferg style anger). Proving very difficult. Yes. They had swapped the thin blue line disc for one that previously had not worked. Success. But as for the same Bean episodes, they could do nothing. So I asked if I could just buy 14 of the 19 discs. Sorry, against the rules. I said that now they knew that the box set wasn't really all it was meant to be, perhaps selling more would be dishonest. They agreed, but its ok cos its not against the rules. I said that they should just split it up and sell it all separately, for the same amount of money. They said that they thought it was a good idea, and more moral, but they were bound to these rules. So I thought bugger it, I won't get it, but hey, the rules say I can't get a refund. SO I swapped it for the set of Black Adder and Arrested Development, which hopefully work. I don't know if they do yet because I have to go back tomorrow between 2 and 8 to find out. And if they don't, I have to wait til the next day between 2 and 8. Get the picture?
Our beautifully hygienic apartment has now adopted the same rules as Gover. (Gover, not Grover. Gover was where Tristan and Sal used to live. Grover is a fuzzy wuzzy blue monster on Sesame St.). The '3 second rule', which at Croydon was the '7 second' rule (depending on how many months ago the floor was last cleaned), is simple. Once food touches the ground in Wu, its gone forever. Bye bye bits of carrot that fell off the off white (used to be white! at least I think it was. a couple of weeks ago when it was new) chopping board. Bye bye delicious noodle that has slipped off a chopstick. (Sof's eating manners are atrocious. Fits in well here, she does). But oh well. It's just impossible to keep things clean here. And yes, Chas and Ana (former house mates), we actually try now.
I would like to say that my atrocious eating habits are just my way of assimilating into the chinese culture. In the same way that things just are always dirty. But for all this dirt, think of our immune systems! Wow! We will be machines when we get back to Oz. I mean, we dont really have a choice, when you have to wash your fruit and veg in Chinese tap water. And clean the house with chinese tap water. It just gives a new meaning to 'clean'. However, we are settling in and cooking in our kitchen regularly (not having noodles EVERY night), though it costs the same to cook at home or eat out. Bliss! It has only been a short time in the Wu, but we feel like we're at home. I still refuse to wear a giant visor that covers my face whilst riding, no matter how much crap it keeps out of my face, or a giant hat that looks like a lampshade. If you saw it in a department store, you would exclaim: "Why are they selling lampshades in the hat section?"
We have found the coolest bookstore. It shits all over the famous one in Wangfujing. And its only 20 mins ride away, if our bikes allow us to actually ride. We bought Dr Seuss as a teaching aid. And I bought Calvin and Hobbes as a study aid. The Dr Seuss is both in English and Chinese, and I'm afraid the translations just don't cut it. Like one fish two fish red fish blue fish has 3 syllables in the first 2 lines, then 4 in the last 2. Nup. So our english students are all reading the english. Come olympics, the crowd will be yelling 'Tall tall they are all tall' at the basketball medal presentation and 'Small small they are all small' at the equestrian medal presentation and 'Say! What a lot of fish there are' at the swimming. And they might be yelling at the gymnasts to Hop on Pop. We can only hope. But its gotta be more interesting than 'jia you, jia you' which is what happens now.
Oh, and Charlee, for approximately one fifth of a duck you can buy durian flavoured lollies at the local shop. Personally, we dont think its worth it.
Bye Bye for now now
Fly fly a cow cow
Zac and Sof
Black and cough
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