Home Sweet Whatever

Date of writing: 4 November

I managed to get myself and all my remaining bags into a taxi after checking out of the Kuntai. It’s only a short ride, less than a mile, and cost ¥10 (about $1.25), but was a real chore with all my junk. The driver didn’t know exactly where to turn, but luckily I’ve been here enough times to point and say, “Here!” Note to self: Must learn Mandarin for left, right, and straight.

All the landlord’s preparations aren’t done yet, so the TV doesn’t work. I think the cable is fine, but there’s no remote to control the thing, and it seems to be impossible to work without one. But they did get all the light bulbs working, which certainly wasn’t the case the last time I was here.

As I was looking through drawers trying to decide where to put things, I discovered the previous tenant left me a little gift. That was so kind of them. I think I’ll probably get better use out of the real estate agent’s gift. I’ll let you guess which is which in this picture. (In case you can't tell in the picture, that's a Cher CD.)
Today is what I think will turn out to be a typical fall day in Beijing. It’s very windy, and dust and leaves are blowing everywhere. You do occasionally see people on the streets wearing facemasks, and I don’t blame then at all. I feel like I’ve got gravel in my eyes. And now that I look at my hands, they look dirty even though I’ve only been unpacking things from my suitcases. The humidity is very low, and my lips and hands seem to dry out minutes after using lotion or Chapstik. That's the view from my apartment looking south. The large low building is the Workers' Indoor Arena, which will host some Olympic events, and is within easy walking distance. Note how hazy the air is.
Maybe the internet is working – I can’t tell because I don’t seem to have the right kind of connector. Another trip to the Wonderful Digital Jungle is in order! And I’m told there’s another place called Gome the next block up that’s even better. I’ll also need some power strips, since there aren’t very many outlets. This is what the outlets look like.
There was also this little thing sitting in the bedroom. It kind of looks like something electrical, but doesn’t seem to fit into anything.

At first I thought there were no outlets in the master bathroom at all, until I finally found one up high on the wall next to the shower stall. Strange place to put it, if you ask me, which obviously the designers didn’t.

I’ll need to pick up some groceries, since I’m anxious to cook my first home meal. It’s nice eating in restaurants, having people serve me and clean up after me, but it will nice to just relax in my own place and not deal with a menu or trying to figure out what they’re trying to tell me. I’ll be tempted to take pictures in the grocery store, but I’d feel strange doing it. Not that I don’t’ feel strange most of the time.
Yikes! I just accidentally triggered the security alarm on my door. I feel foolish, but what happened was that my Chinese cell phone rang for the first time, and I didn’t recognize the sound, so I thought someone was at the door. With all these bare walls, sound just echoes around so the source is hard to determine. I opened the door without pressing the Open button, and the siren started going off. Finally I found my key and put it in the lock and it shut up.

The call was from my coworker PG, letting me know that my new TV will be delivered around 2 this afternoon. I’ll use the time to add to my supply list.


The landlord’s representative is here with the delivery man now, and neither of them really speaks any English, so I’m not sure what’s going on. I’m sure I could set the thing up myself, but I don’t know if that would be rude to them. She’s got her two cell phones going. The conversations sound so heated, but I’m coming to learn that Mandarin just sounds like that to and English speaker even when there’s not an argument. Anyway, they’re having trouble getting it to work, so a building maintenance guy has come up with his tools and testing box. The owner’s manual is all in Chinese, of course, so maybe I couldn’t have done it myself. Some of the plugs on the back of the TV are labeled with standard abbreviations, like DVD and CATV, but there’s a lot of Chinese writing as well. Plus the setup menus on the set are also in Chinese.

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