The seemingly impossible daunting tasks (that we accomplished!)
Once we were left alone and had unpacked and settled in a little, we began to explore our apartment. It is an amazing apartment. Beautiful marble and hardwood floors. Four very spacious bedrooms, although one is our study. A large family room complete with a comfortable brown leather couch, a 27″ flat screen TV, and surround sound system. A kitchen overlooking the street. Two bathrooms, one conveniently off our bedroom (though our huge walk-in closet is in another bedroom). And a balcony that doubles as a laundry room. It has a washing machine and two lines to hang dry clothes on that are on some sort of pulley system so that you can pull both lines over your head when clothes are drying (the Chinese do not believe in dryers. At all. Period.). It’s pretty sweet. By this time we had accumulated a week’s worth of dirty laundry from our travels. So I decided to be a good wife and wash our laundry. I carried it out to the laundry room only to discover that our washing machine is 100% completely in Chinese! And so arose dauting task #1 – to wash our laundry. I filled the washer with clothes and put soap in like I always do. Then I closed the lid and after pushing some random buttons in an attempt to figure out what they are, I decided to run the washer on the previous settings. After all, it had gotten those clothes clean, right? And it did get our clothes clean too! Then I had to hang them up to dry… no 2-3 hour turnaround on laundry here my friends. Our clothes were dry a day or two later since it was humid from the rain.
With daunting task #1 accomplished, we faced daunting task #2. Getting our internet to work and finding a VPN (virtual private network) that would allow us to access facebook, Youtube, and Hulu – all of which are very important when you feel completely isolated in a foreign culture. Thankfully, John is a genius and quickly installed the USB modem so that we had internet and then researched and downloaded a VPN so that we could communicate once again with our friends and family. After both of these tasks, we felt quite accomplished and victorious in our new home.
Daunting task #3 was actually slightly more daunting. We were going to go outside by ourselves. This doesn’t sound daunting, but it is. Have you ever gone outside by yourself in China? Let me tell you, unless you understand Chinese, you will be overwhelmed by the cacophony of sound. Also, you will be helpless since you can’t communicate with anyone. Please don’t get lost, since you would most likely remain lost for an indefinite time. However, we remained undetered and decided to venture outside. We needed some groceries, so we decided to head to Wal-mart. Thankfully, we had been told (and shown) how to take the bus. Also, we had asked Diana to write down a few key places, such as Wal-mart, our address, the Parkson (which I’ll tell you about momentarily), and the hospital, in Chinese on a page in my journal so that we could hail a taxi and point to where we wanted to go in case of emergency. We walked down the street and waited for the #17 bus to take us to Wal-mart. Once it arrived, we paid 1 yuan a piece (~15 or 16 cents — 6.6 yuan=1USD) and hoped that we would remember when to get off the bus. We did! We made it to Wal-mart only to face daunting task #4…
Which was to purchase food at Wal-mart. Let me remind you… we don’t speak Mandarin. They don’t speak English. We walked in, rode the travalator (its a moving ramp similar to an escalator but without steps) to the second floor and picked out our food and 1 English movie for me to watch incessantly while John works. We then went back downstairs to make our purchase. Thankfully the cashier was very understanding and showed us the amount in yuan and waited for us to give her the money. She then gave us change and we left. All in all, a surprisingly painless experience.
After shopping, we decided to go out to KFC for American food since we figured it might be easier to order there than at a Chinese restaurant. We walked in and made all sorts of peoples’ days since we were Americans eating in the American restaurant. When we got up to the register to order, the cashier graciously pulled out a picture menu so that we could point to what we wanted. We did, and they just gave us the standard sides and drinks since that probably would have been too complicated. We paid and sat down with our food. Whatever orange drink that gave us (most likely Fanta) was delicious! As was familiar food when being overwhelmingly surrounded by a foreign culture. When we were finished, we headed back outside to find the #17 bus home, which was slightly tricky since the stop was on the other side of Wal-mart (buses in China only go one way from each stop). At home, we rejoiced in our accomplishments and watched “The Ugly Truth” (the pickings were slim for English movies in Wal-mart… while cute, this wasn’t my ideal choice.).
Since this post is already quite long, I’ll save the retelling of the remaining impossibly daunting tasks for tomorrow! Till then… enjoy!