Following lunch on Thursday, we went back to the supermarket to get things we had forgotten or realized we needed since the first time we went. Again, we ended up getting tons of stuff, and again, I still need to go back and get more to make this place livable.
I found a really soft down comforter to put in the duvet of the set I bought yesterday, and two wonderfully soft pillows that will hopefully make my bed much better than it was last night. As I’m sitting here typing this, it actually looks pretty cute. I have a cute little pink and purple theme going throughout this apartment…or as “cute” as you can call this shit hole. “Living in squalor” has become me, Lauren, and Emily’s motto for our ten months in China. Man, we’re going to appreciate everything when we get back to the states.
Anyway, my apartment is finally livable, though I have yet to tackle the room with the toilet. We got this terry cloth like mop thing (sorry, I don’t know the correct term for it), and I was able to sweep/mop/clean my floors using that and the Clorox I bought yesterday. The bedroom, sitting room, entry, and hallways all look much better after that treatment. I’m hoping to get a few rugs to put down, and I have my house shoes to wear around, so hopefully things won’t get too dirty any more.
The part of the bathroom with the shower is an entirely different story. It took me at least an hour and half just to clean the walls of the shower and the shower doors. The walls are white now, but they were a really lovely orange color previously. I can also see through the glass doors that used to be completely covered in soap scum. Following that riveting hour and a half, I scrubbed the floor. No, I did not mop the floor. I sat on my hands and knees and scrubbed the floor with Clorox, hot water, and a sponge. My floor is no longer orange and grey, though. It is white. I also cleaned out the little bucket/faucet thing that I’m pretty sure is supposed to be used to wash your feet. At least, that’s what I’m using it for. I also bought some pink, white, and yellow striped towels that I rolled up and placed around the base of the shower. Hopefully they will at least help a little with the flooding problem. I’m hoping to get some rugs to put under the sink and right outside the door of the bathroom to help with the same problem. I have separate shower shoes for that room, so I won’t drag in any crap that may be on my house shoes and make the bathroom grey again.
The bedroom thankfully didn’t take me long at all to clean. I’m not even going to attempt to clean the kitchen/patio area, because the only thing I plan on using that for is to dry my clothes. Oh, that’s another thing. My washing machine is broken, so until I can find a way to communicate to my building monitor that it’s broken, I will continue to wash my clothes in my bathroom sink. Fun fact about China: building and classroom monitors for foreign English teachers are not chosen based upon their ability to speak English; rather, they are chosen based on their rank in the party system.
I’ve unpacked all of my suitcases, and just need to go buy one more round of hangers to fit all of my clothes in the armoires. I’m going to buy a couple of cutesy baskets to put things like my medicine and hair care items in. It’s starting to look like “home” as much as this place ever could. Again, I’m still looking for a way to upload pictures to my computer since I forgot my cord at home.
(Note, we still have yet to find internet. Both Mr. Dong and our building monitor have said that they will buy us Ethernet cords since we can’t find them at the supermarket. Alas, you will be reading this far after I’ve typed it yet again).
So, to wrap up, the last thing I have to tackle is the bathroom. It shouldn’t take me too long, but I’ve ruined my rubber gloves and gone through all of the sponges that I bought, so it’s a project for another day. I’ve bought a toilet roll hanger to put on the wall, and some lavender air fresheners to place around the apartment. In case I haven’t said it enough, China just smells. Thankfully, the room with the toilet is much smaller than the other bathroom. I plan on cleaning it with a sponge and Clorox as well, but it shouldn’t take me nearly as long.
I don’t think I’m going to end up buying a hot plate, so the meals I cook at home are going to end up being whatever I can make with boiling water, since I did end up buying a kettle. I’m still trying to find coffee here, because the supermarket does sell French presses.
Tonight, for dinner, we were all exhausted from cleaning and just wanted to get out of our apartments. First, we went and bought a piu jou (spelling will probably be corrected later – it means beer and is pronounce pee-joe) and sat outside our building monitor’s door because he claimed he was going to buy us internet today. False. We each drank an entire bottle of piu jou, and Mr. Zhou’s door was open, but he never came back. In other words, we lost our building manager.
After finishing our beers, we decided we may as well go to dinner. We walked down Wenyuan St., the street we live on, and realized that we’d already eaten at every semi-decent looking restaurant on the street. We turned left at the intersection, in hopes of finding somewhere new. We actually found a really nice looking restaurant, so we decided to go in.
It was another hot pot restaurant, and it was actually clean! The menu, however, was a paper menu that we had to fill out – like a sushi menu. It was only in characters. Absolutely no pinyin. So, I got out Lauren’s phrasebook and found the characters for beef and pork, went through the menu, found the characters, and marked that it was what we wanted. What we ordered, though, wasn’t ONLY the characters for those meats. There were other things, but we figured it was things like noodles or rice or vegetables that came in the dish. So, we ordered the two meat dishes, cabbage, and noodles…and a sauce to cook it in.
Our first dish comes out, and it is most definitely not pork or beef. It was lamb heart. Yep. Lamb heart. Lots and lots of lamb hearts. For the record, there is hardly any meat on lamb hearts. We probably had that plate on our table for at least 20 minutes before they brought out our next dish…
…which was cold beef. It was cooked, but it was cold beef with garlic and some kind of soy sauce. It actually wasn’t too bad, but it definitely wasn’t what we ordered.
We finally found a waiter who spoke the teeniest bit of English, and he happens to attend Number 42 Middle School, even though he looks like he’s at least 19. We ask him where our noodles that we ordered are, and he says they’re coming.
The next thing we know, they took our lamb plate, took it to the back, took the lamb out, and brought the pot with seasoning back to put on the burner. Thankfully, the next things they brought out were our cabbage, some sort of meat balls, and noodles that this lady made out of dough in front of us.
The funniest part of the noodles was that we had put down a 3 next to the characters for noodles because we assumed it meant three bowls of noodles. Wrong. It literally meant three noodles that this lady made in front of us. We were able to flag down the English speaker later and order more noodles.
Despite the road bumps, our meal actually wasn’t too bad. Or maybe it was the three piu jous we had with dinner.
Oh, another interesting dinner occurrence. There was a table of young Chinese men sitting close by, and at one point, one of them had come over to toast us with his cup of bai jiu. Later, while Lauren was in the bathroom, he came back over to our table, shoved cigarettes into me and Emily’s mouths, and lit them. We each took about half a puff, and it was terrible. Thankfully he walked away after that and we just put them out and set them on the table.
Now, we’re back at the apartments, watching a movie in Emily’s apartment. I had a DVD player in mine, but she has more comfortable living room furniture and a working TV. This seems to be the meeting place for now. American movies and beer are becoming our ritual, and it’s nice.
Slowly…very slowly…This is beginning to feel like my home for the next ten months.
Other fun facts of the day:
I had to hand wash some clothes, and the only place to hang them is a rod in my kitchen/patio. I opened the windows to help my clothes dry more quickly. Nope. Instead, it just made it look like there is a constant fog in my apartment. Sweet. I love pollution.
MR. DONG JUST CAME WITH ETHERNET CORDS.
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN CHINA!
(FYI, it was 9:30 PM when he came…uh.)
The Ethernet cables connect, and our computers say they’re working, but we’re not able to go to any websites, including ones that the government allows…like yahoo.