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Published: March 21st 2009
I know….I am definitely slipping on the blog entries. As we settle more and more into life in China, it seems to be taking a back seat!! Of course, it hasn’t helped not having internet at home for the last few weeks.
Last week, we visited yet another area of this massive city, the ‘wholesale district”. It is pretty easy to describe…take a ton of products that China exports to other countries, place them all in one area, and sell them at wholesale prices from hundreds of small shops. Once again, it was a shopaholic’s dream! The amount and variety of merchandise was overwhelming. As usual, the vast majority of stuff was clothing and textiles but everything else under the sun was also available. We ended up buying a little clothing and an area rug.
It is always fascinating to see the number of people out and about, as well as the huge selection of street food that is available everywhere. There is a constant hustle and bustle from dawn to dusk and this area was no exception. We were continuously passed by hand-pulled carts piled high with packages of merchandise as we strolled around the area. And as
always, it was so crowded that many times we were literally pushed out of the way by others who were faster walkers than us. But we are getting used to the huge number of people that are always present everywhere we go, as well as the stares by others as we walk around.
As I have said in earlier blogs, there may be a global economic slowdown, but you would never know it around here. In the ten minute drive from here to the closest mall, I counted almost forty cranes working on new buildings and construction sites. The malls are always crowded and people are always buying. Speaking of which, we both bought new vehicles this week. Our little electric scooter was having a few problems with a bad connection somewhere that we got tired of trying to figure out. It also did not have a big enough range to get us out into the countryside or to any distance from home and had a top speed of about 40 km/hour. So this week I purchased a 150cc gas scooter which has a top speed of 90 - 100 km/hour and can get us to places that are
much further away. It is the best I can do until I get a motorcycle license, which I am now studying for (I need to write a test of 100 questions all about driving in China). I was given a CD with a data bank of 1500 questions to study. Nancy bought a three-wheeler electric trike to get back and forth to school with. As you can see from the pics, it has a back seat that can carry a couple of people or copious amounts of shopping! It is definitely the most exotic “ride” at the school! So I guess you could say that we are now a two-car family.
Riding the scooter around the city is a hoot. I don’t think I could have done it a year ago but after riding in taxis for a year and seeing how people drive (cars and scooters), it is a piece of cake. It is actually pretty simple…if you drive a car there are next to no rules, if you ride a scooter or motorcycle, there are none. There is no such thing as a traffic jam; you can go zip along the right side of everyone, pick a
hole up the middle, or cross the double line and roar down any space you can find towards the oncoming traffic. And if push comes to shove, there are always the sidewalks. I will definitely have to change my driving habits when we travel in Canada and the US this summer!
Our home internet should be installed this week sometime. This morning we are camped out on the third floor of Starbucks, using the internet to get caught up on email, etc. It is interesting sitting here looking out at the square down below us where a group is practicing fan dancing under the McDonald’s sign with skyscrapers and traffic in the background. The mixture of old and new continues to fascinate us as we travel around the city. There is a group of us that is being taught Tai Chi (sp?) once a week at the school. It is interesting to learn about and a great stretching workout.
My Chinese is coming along slowly but surely. Another teacher and myself are taking weekly lessons together from one of the Chinese teachers. We get together once a week to learn as much as we can. We are currently
learning how to write Chinese characters starting with the 28 different strokes that are used. Each stroke has a name and she wants us to learn each one. I suppose it is only two more than the letters of the alphabet when you think about it but it is still unbelievably complex to me. You soon learn what words you need to know to communicate with store clerks, etc. As I shopped around for my new scooter, I soon learned how to talk about engine size, speed, where it is legal to drive them, tires, etc. And my latest new phrase is, “Fill it up!” lol There are still very few shop keepers we run into that speak any English at all.
Spring has definitely arrived. The temperature was up into the 30’s last week but today it is back into the mid 20’s, still pretty nice for the middle of March. Because of the high humidity (100% the last few days), it stays warm into the evening and we can sit out on our balcony with short sleeves till bedtime. Phil is coming to visit at the end of April. It will be downright hot by then, I
Anyway, that is about it for now. Hopefully, the next entry will not take as long to get around to writing as this one did!
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