Early Morning Stroll Around Our Neighborhood
Today I like to take you on a walk around our neighborhood. During this time of year the sun rises at 4am. It is one of the things I am getting used to here. The good thing is I have adapted to the early morning routine, complete opposite of my late nights of staying up to get things accomplished. I have now reversed this mainstay that has been a fixture of my lifestyle for decades. Now China has changed my way of sleeping and getting up. So on occasion when it is still cool in the early morning we like to go for a wall around the area. Recently at 6am we took a morning stroll around the area we live. I took a few pictures of the area we call home to share what it looks like here. We started off just enjoying the area just outside our home.
Outside, what is considered the front of our home there is a peaceful natural setting. It has what looks like fallen or cut down trees that are actually concrete fashioned to look like trees and tree stumps. There is a huge bolder at the edge of this setting. The use of boulders is popular throughout Changchun. I have observed many places that have them as part of their landscape theme.
Tai loves her plants. Chinese people love to have their picture taken with plants and most any kind of flowering or colorful foliage. Last fall there were countless people taking advantage of the photo opt with the fall foliage. Tai has a simple garden in back of the apartment. She has never had anything like this before. We cleared out the area and she planted a selection of plants and flowers. She was thrilled.
There are several rows of apartment buildings with most having an identical appearance. Typically six stories tall and the outside has aged greatly and in dire need of or in the process of being repaired. The entrance into our building looks rough on the outside. The doors of the entrance over the years have many old handbills still pasted on the doors.
Most of them have to do with services for repairs and such, It is also interesting, the residents electric, water, and gas bills are taped to the main entrance doors of each section of the building. There are 12 apartments in each section, many vacant. We are fortunate to live on the first floor. There are no elevators in these old buildings. The outward appearance reminds me of the neglected areas in Richmond poor districts like some of the housing projects where city government to a certain degree abandoned the support and funds to make it better. Unfortunately those areas statistically have higher crime and murder rates. They are areas we would avoid
and be fearful if we were going through them in the day and especially at night. I make this point to say, while things appear to look a bit neglected with the housing here, the life is pretty much the opposite of such areas in Richmond and cities across America. Those housing areas look that way because of vandalism and disrespect of property. Here in Changchun, I would also say that many people do not have respect for the properties. But the difference here is there isn’t any hate posted anywhere nor is there any curse or inappropriate words or drawings. Mostly here you have handbills usually left by people looking for work or wanting to provide services. Phone numbers for e
lectrical services and sometimes restaurant info. But nothing mean or hateful. Another thing you do not see present are signs of drug use or any gang type of presence. I know there are good hardworking families in the so-called “bad” areas of Richmond but I believe they live there because it is their only option. I have seen news stories and heard first hand from people who work in areas such as these providing family services that there is a fear among these people living in areas where there is disregard for authority and where drugs and crime is so prevalent. Where we live in China. I have no fear of my surroundings. Tai can walk to the store after dark and I have no worries. This is a family oriented neighborhood where people are willing to offer a hand to their neighbor. I see this all the time, neighbors helping one another, children playing without the parents fearing about their safety. People from my experience are genuinely friendly here. The family connection and support is wonderful here. The outside can be misleading. The apartments are quite nice and clean. No roaches or bugs that I’ve seen
or heard about. Another thing to note is guns are illegal throughout China, so that power is not foreboding here.
Let’s walk and talk. There is a nice long brick path that is lined with trees and plants. It parallels wth Huadian St. It is an area with medicine shops, small grocery stores, restaurants, retail shops, and street vendors. The path is our way to get to Huadian Street to do things we need to in the area. As we walk, once we are on Huadian St. we head to Nanhu Street which is one of the main arteries of roads in this area. The area is already alive with activity early in the morning which is about 6:30am. There is a neighborhood day care center and many parents are bringing their children before work. Automobile and foot traffic is fairly heavy in the early hours of the day as many people living in the area are in walking distance to their work.
Jilin Cancer Hospital is quiet large and employs hundreds of people. This is where Tai has worked for over 25 years. I am still in awe at the amount of people moving about in this city so early. Experiencing a life where your primary mode of transportation is walking it is still fascinating to see the number of people walking at any hour.
In the spring the city planted a slew of bushes and trees lining the sidewalks and paths. The Streets are well maintained and walking around in the morning or in the evening is pleasant and comforting to know the city takes pride in a well landscaped curb appeal.
We did not have to go far to reach the Huadian Street Alley (about 100 yards). It is one of the many alleys represented in Changchun. These alleys are more like a normal side street than the dirt alleys I am used to in Richmond. These alleys have businesses of varied sorts and also dotted with restaurants. Some apartments butt up to the roads and there were some homes that had nice big gardens that took up their entire back yards. So many people not only raise vegetable for their own use but many take them and sell them on the streets.
Turning a bend in the road we approach the place I get my hair cut. As we move pass the line of shops and stores we see the apartment buildings from the opposite direction from when we first started. These apartments have been bulldozed for new landscaping it appears and I saw renovations
in progress on the outside of several of the apartment buildings.
We’ve come almost full circle and are approaching Huguang Rd (the road we live on) As we near the road I can see the Jilin Cancer Hospital across the street. It is nice that Tai is so close to work. I never lived anywhere in my adult life where I could enjoy the benefit of being close
enough to work I could walk there. There is a small convenient store on the corner across from the hospital entrance. When we go for evening walks we usually go down Huguang Rd for almost a mile and Tai would stop at some of the street vendors and pick up some veggies or get a watermelon. She likes her watermelon. Which is fine by me. I like my watermelon cold and have now convinced her to refrigerate
the melon before we eat any.
We are now back at our main entrance to the apartments. We do live in a gated community. Which I
find as another difference in our lifestyles in America. We perceive only well to do people live in gated communities. But the neighborhoods here are mostly gated no matter your lifestyle. And there is a guard at the gate. As we near the gated entrance and see what is Changchun’s version of UPS or FEDEX. It is much simpler than what we have back in America.
That is our quick trip around the neighborhood with a few select sights along the way. To see the photo gallery of all the pictures of our morning walk click here.
I have learned the meaning of being happy. It is not the things you have but rather the things you don’t have. I don’t have costly items in my life. My home is plain and simple. I don’t have expectations, especially from others. I don’t have worry or fear about my future. What I do have is contentment, humbleness,
simplicity, pure love from another and the reminder that every day that I breathe it is a blessing from God and I know He is in control. What I don’t have are chains that bind me to this world. For I have been set free with the price paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ. What I do have is expected hope as I patiently wait for the appointed day when Christ returns for His bride. I have all the riches I need because of one thing. My faith in God and His promises. Thanks for following and sharing in Tai’s and my life in China. Love you all. Bǎozhòng. Zàijiàn