I’ve been meaning to take the camera in to work for a while now, and today I finally remembered. So here’s a picture of the exterior of the building.
The building also houses a restaurant, and I’m told there’s something like a spa downstairs. It used to be a hotel, so these are probably hotel amenities repurposed to function on their own. They’ve decorated the trees in the planters next to the doors with lights and garlands. The garlands were new today.
When you ride up the elevator to the fourth floor and the weather is relatively clear, you can see all the way to the National Stadium which is under construction for the Olympics. This is looking along Gulouwai Avenue to the north, past the Third Ring Road. If you turned around the other way and walked south along this street for three or four miles, it would take you right to the Forbidden City.
When you get off the elevator, there’s this little lobby area. It’s always dark in here, so I’m not sure how these plants survive.
I mentioned before about the film posters on the hallway walls.
Last month I posted a picture of the part of the office where I work. Here’s the other side, where our Chinese staff works. Yes, that’s a fishbowl on the conference table, with two goldfish in it.
And this is part of one of the lunches we sometimes order for delivery. We almost always get this dish. It’s got chicken in it, and the red bits are hot peppers (though it’s not as spicy as it might look), I’m pretty sure the little cubes are bamboo shoots, and the black stuff is a kind of mushroom. It’s all wrapped up in a tasty sauce. That’s my favorite beverage, cold oolong tea with no sugar or lemon. It took some trial and error to find an unsweetened tea, so I’ve been sticking with this one.
After lunch today I took a little walk around the area to take pictures. I’m sure people who saw me thought I was nuts taking pictures of ordinary buildings, and maybe they’re right. This fellow probably looks a little healthier in the summertime.
Across the street are some large apartment blocks.
I crossed under one of the access roads to the Third Ring Road and surreptitiously photographed the person who was sweeping.
I went through there to get to this. Remember this photo was taken on November 30, and yes, those are roses in bloom. I don’t know how they achieve this, but there it is.
Just across on the other side of the Third Ring Road is the China Science and Technology Museum, which I hope to get into someday.
And back to the Huabei. I noticed our driver waiting in the parking lot in front of the building. That’s him in the black VW Passat. I always wonder what he does during the day after he drops us off. I did see him in the “coffee shop” on the second floor once, having a cup of tea.
I mentioned in my description of the daily routine that we get fruit every day. It’s more than I can eat at the office, so I bring some home. Here’s the collection I have now – or did have until I ate the banana for breakfast. That’s a gigantic grapefruit in the back, a pear on the left, an apple on the right, and an orange in the front. All of these have proven very tasty so far. I haven’t tried one of the grapefruit yet, but the oranges are very sweet and juicy, and both the pears and apples are really excellent. They’re sitting on the lovely new table cloth I bought at Silk Street.
On the domestic front, I’m having some trouble with my gas stove. It was working fine until a couple days ago, then it just puffed out when I went to start it up. I figured I might have run down all the gas that had been paid for, so I took my gas card…
…to the nearest Bank of Beijing branch. I showed the security guard the gas card and a ¥100 note, and he took me to a machine outside that looked like a combination of an ATM and a payphone. He inserted the card in a slot and made some selections on the screen. They seemed to be in both Chinese and English, though I have to admit the English didn’t make a lot of sense to me. After a moment, the card popped out and it printed a receipt. The guard took me back inside and made a selection on the machine that prints your “take a number” slip. I waited a few minutes for 377 to come up, then slipped my card, the receipt, and the money to the teller. She worked her magic and handed me back ¥1.20 along with another receipt. I stepped away, confused, but luckily another bank employee saw me and took me back out to the machine again. She motioned for me to insert the gas card, and made some selections on the screen. When it popped out, she said, “Okay.”
I brought the card home and put it into the slot in the side of my gas meter, which is behind the refrigerator. It clicked and then dinged, and registered the additional money. Unfortunately, the stove still doesn’t work. The little spark things go, and there’s a brief puff of flame, then it goes out and I get nothing. Good thing I have a microwave. I’ll call the building management in the morning and have a maintenance person check it out.
And I will leave you with a picture of the desk I’m sitting at right now as I write. It’s about the only thing about my apartment that I really dislike. It was not made to hold a computer, and typing is uncomfortable. I know – I’m such a whiner. I’ve asked if the landlord can get me something different, but haven’t heard back yet. The chair, on the other hand, is much more comfortable than it looks.