Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Working Girl!

Things have gone smoother this time around, especially with work. I got my Sunday teaching job back the day after we got back and people have been calling me to ask for private lessons! They got my number from other teachers. One called last night after 11 pm. There is a school run by an American who we both may be working for soon as well. Frank has several hours of work a week too and offers of more. No one wants to help us with a visa so we are trying to hold off signing contracts until someone will give us one. I had another private student but he keeps canceling so last Sunday that hour got replaced when I was offered an extra hour at the small school I teach at on Sundays. It is a 15 min. bike ride from this apartment and I have no idea how far from the one we will be moving to but farther I can tell you. I might take the bus. We'll see. The other two private classes I can do right after school nearby and get paid right then, very convenient. They are brand new clients, I start tomorrow. Maybe I should get on the ball and prepare. Talk to you later!

"I owe, I owe, so off to work I go"

We are still here!

Hello everybody!! We have not given up blogging, just having difficulties getting it done. We have been on an apartment safari hunt for the past 2 weeks. We saw many strange things, apartments with rotten fruit still in the kitchen, underwear hanging in the bathroom. We visited several apartments twice. There is no rhyme or reason to the real estate agency here. You have to pick a street and go office to office asking. If you see a building you might like, there is no guarantee that the agencies underneath it have any apartments there. Chances are, they will make you walk 2 or 3 miles across the city to another building. One day we walked for ten hours, and found nothing. It seems that everyone in China has decided to move here and most purchase their apartments, so empty apartments are few and far between. Usually we just split up, hitting office after office and they would just say, mei you. We don't have anything. Not even one apartment in our range. One guy drove us out of the city away from everything to show us three apartments that were all 1000K which is pretty good. The building was brand new. We had to wait for the key so I peeped in the unfinished peep hole and saw that there were no doors framed out. When they finally opened the door, a little man jumped up from the squat toilet and ran out. "Does he live here"?, I asked. "Oh, no, no one lives here.". On the balcony I saw shoes and clothes hanging to dry on a makeshift line. In two bedrooms were mattresses and toothbrushes and clothes. "Are you sure no one lives here"? They said no again. The "best" part was that there was no western toilet, no floors, no doors and get this, no kitchen. The space was there, just an empty concrete space with pipes sticking out of the wall. When we asked them when it would be finished, they said, no 1000K was as is! What if we want doors and a toilet and ummm, a KITCHEN? They could put in the toilet and add doors but to put in a kitchen, buxing, impossible. And they would have to raise the rent a few hundred of course. When Frank tried to reason that no one could live in an unfinished place, the landlord called him cheap. It was hilarious! They refused to negotiate, except to say we could of course pay 1000 and do all the rest ourselves. As we were going downstairs, we spotted another unfinished apt. and stepped in to speak to the landlords. The unreasonable landlord quickly pointed to them, "See, they live here and look!, No kitchen!!!" But I thought no one was living in the other one. Hmmmm. She ushered us out of their place and as we descended the stairs, had a nice long discussion with the other owners to assure they would also not rent to us. It was an interesting experience and after the frustration and anger at her rudeness subsided, it was all very amusing.
We looked at apartments on all points of the compass and finally, in the rain yesterday, found one we could settle on. It has 3 bedrooms and one western bath. The living room is large, the kitchen small but workable. The sink and cabinet are rotten and collapsed when we opened the door. It has two balconies and the area has a garden. It is on the 11th floor. It is quieter and not dusty from outside construction. It is right next to a cigarette factory with the mountains even closer than this apt. It will take some cleaning and they will replace the sink cabinet before we sign a contract. But I think it will work out fine. The walking and bike riding were good exercise and we stayed hydrated since every office you visit gives you a cup of hot water and makes you sit and drink it. I had a dear friend with me too who actually enjoys the hunt. She was the engine because I was ready to give up and stay here, pay the increased rent and deal with not sleeping from the noise. "You are not giving up!" she kept telling me and look, now we have a new place. As soon as we can, I will post before pictures and after when we actually move in. Just wait for the stories we will have about getting our stuff moved!. Another adventure!
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home"

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hey Everybody! We're Back!

We are officially back in China. My back tells me in the morning after sleeping on our board bed. No really, I am happy to be back, and that is the best part. I am HAPPY to be back! Maybe it is the return to a real schedule and regularity. Whatever it is, I am grateful. We arrived Wednesday night around 6 pm. We opted for a private car to get to our apartment and ended up having a nice discussion with the driver, who was studying English with tapes in the car and eager to practice with us. He thought it would be nice if the world was one united family and that us learning Chinese and he learning English was a good start. Yeah, we enjoyed talking to him. It was a good start to getting back. I am sorry that I am still unable to load pictures. Please be patient. We started school on Thursday morning. Why wait? And right away, I got my one hour a week job back, plus the next day a couple hired me to teach them. The second time around is going much smoother. Of course, we have to find more work than two hours but this is a very encouraging start. I am so glad that we used so much Chinese while we were in Korea, but still, we can see how much work we have to do to catch back up. Frank and I had lunch together Thursday and instead of asking for the bill, mai dan, I told the waitress that the meal was free, mian fei. Frank signed us up for what he thought was faster internet, but was actually pay as you go, per hour. We have to wait till October to change it so we have been disconnecting from the net to save money. So, back to school we go! A friend is giving me a bike tomorrow too, so things are really going well. That is, until class tomorrow when I can't write the characters because I was blogging instead of doing homework like Frank...Gotta Go!