Short Tour of Our Chinese Home
Hi everyone! Let’s see, I have been here just over 30 days and today I want to take you around our Chinese home. It is a very small two-bedroom apartment. Tai’s lived here for 24 years (since 1992). She pays a small fee each month that might be for maintenance and upkeep (not much upkeep happening here) on the building. I’m Still trying to determine if she pays any kind of rent or mortgage. She is very protective about sharing information about her expenses/finances. I don’t know how they classify properties in China. I guess this would be considered a condo in a sense. This is a very old building that looks worn out and in need of TLC (paint job/landscaping). The outside may fool you in appearance. However, Tai’s place is kept up nice and clean. There is a quaintness and simplicity to her Chinese home. Which is nice to have. To me, it is a little step back in time. You may agree after reading my descriptions. But I am thankful for what God has provided. He always makes sure I have the things He promises for my needs.
So here’s a short tour of our Chinese home. Through a glass tri-fold frosted/etched door you enter the kitchen which is small but long. It resembles a 15 foot by 5 foot enclosed porch surrounded with windows. She has a two burner gas stove with no oven. NO OVEN… did you southern cooking girls hear that? LOL. On the main burner is always the reliable wok. She cooks every thing in the wok. Except when cooking soup or boiling something. There is a small double sink surrounded by a solid black granite counter top with space to the right for food preparation. There are some plants on a table that adds a little character to the kitchen. A unique attribute is the window insert on the inside wall. It is about four feet wide and has about a two foot recessed ledge. The window opens into the spare bedroom. The window ledge acts as a shelf for the small microwave and rice cooker. Located along the far end of the kitchen; food that Tai does not refrigerate is kept at the far end of the kitchen. Leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, etc. There are two small hinged windows along the outer wall. The kitchen overlooks the access road and parking area with a patch of trees between us and the next apartment/condo building.
Continuing our Chinese home tour. The bathroom is along the front of the home next to the kitchen and is quite small. Noticeably there is a major feature missing here. The bathroom does not have a bathtub or shower stall. Tai explained that “washing” (taking a shower) was done in the middle of the bathroom. Located above the sink is a tank that appears to hold around 15-20 gallons of water. It is the hot water heater per say. Tai only plugs it in when she is ready to take a shower. There is about a 30 to 45 minute (depending how cold it is outside) wait for the water to reach the temperature set on the thermostat. This can take longer than an hour to heat up in the winter time. Sorry folks the idea of jumping in for a quick shower is not relevant here. Attached to the tank is a long goose neck hand held shower head. There is a drain in the middle of the floor. What a unique experience for me. It is a challenge trying not to get everything wet besides myself. I am learning. For me I have to mentally prepare (and be alert) when it is time to take a shower now as opposed to back home in the States when there were days I was still half asleep getting into the shower. Finally, once you are done, it is a matter of sweeping the excess water down the drain and mopping the floor. So next time ya’ll are taking a shower be thankful. There are worse ways to bathe. Just think, Tai has never taken a bath it a tub just to relax and enjoy. For the last 24 years or more this has been her bathing ritual. I am sure better housing facilities have the convenience of a tub or shower. Again, this is a very old apartment building with bare necessities. To me it is an insight to the poor conditions many, if not most Chinese citizens are experiencing.
The refrigerator is located in the living area and is only about 18 cu.ft. The freezer is at the bottom and consists of only drawers. No shelves. I have not had ice since getting here. Chinese are very big on hot beverages. They say hot drinks are healthier for the body. (matter of opinion if you ask me). So I did bring some lemonade packs from home to make 2-quart pitchers of lemonade. However, I have to make the lemonade using a 16oz bottle. I haven’t found a 2-quart pitcher yet. Which is not a big deal since a 2-quart pitcher would not fit on the shelf in the frig anyway. Another thing is the water does not taste good to me at all. One of my more difficult discussions with Tai is convincing her to buy bottled water. In order to drink the water in the home, it has to be boiled first. According to Tai that is common in most places. The water here is not healthy and the government has not done much to improve the purification of water. Her opinion is bottled water is not good or healthy. She says it is just tap water that they sell you. That sounds familiar. I told her the bottled water has gone through a more intense purification process than just boiling water at home. Plus it tastes better… anyway that is still a back and forth debate ongoing here.
My first 30 days here there are several things I am learning I need to adjust for:
1. The water has to be boiled before consuming it Ongoing battle with Tai to buy bottled water.
2. There is no ice Very rarely used in China. Mostly in restaurants and you have to ask for it. And I love iced drinks.
3. NO DIET COKE… one of my addictions. I can find coke and coke zero but boy the withdrawals from diet coke are rough.
4. Taking a shower This is very different and reminds me of a time long ago.
5. No oven Baking is not an option.
6. There are no can goods in the home. Everything is fresh. Most vegetables are purchased from street vendors.
7. Rice every day I am having nightmares of rice people invading the earth. LOL. I have gotten Tai to cut back on the rice. Potatoes, turnips, noodles are in the rotation now.
8. Cheese is not available I have not found a place that sells cheese. Of any kind.
9. Chocolate milk Very hard to find. I am learning to drink walnut milk. I don’t like regular white milk unless it is in cereal or mixed with chocolate syrup.
10. Peanut butter Tai has never heard of peanut butter and has never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
11. Chop sticks Used at all meals. Yesterday, Tai bought 2 forks. Yeah!!!
12. I am sure there are more just can’t think of them at the moment. Will add when I do.
Well that’s it for now I guess. If I repeat myself on anything I said before in previous posts forgive me. Memory escapes me and that tends to happen… LOL. Also if you have any questions about life in China feel free to toss them at me. Maybe I can answer them for you. Or find the answer.
Until next time thanks everyone for telling me you are enjoying my writing. You don’t know how much you all mean to me. I am so sorry I shut down for so long and was out of touch. But the high school reunion was something that changed many things for me. I needed that connection. But that is a different story that I am documenting. Love all you guys. Gǎnxiè nǐ de yǒuyì. Nǐ gěile wǒ shēngmìng. (感谢你的友谊。你给了我生命.) Translation: Thanks for your friendship. You give me life.