Last Night in Our Shenyang, China Apartment

bya Gabrielle at 1:25 AM

We really didn’t stay in Shenyang long enough to get to know the city as well as perhaps we wanted, but we were there just long enough to make our apartment feel a little bit like home.  And that is why it made it even more frustrating to repack everything we had previously shipped as well as all the additional goods we purchased since we arrived.   Some of the stuff we bought seemed like too much trouble to ship, so we left it.  We probably could have found a way if we had more than one day to move down south, but since we were stuck with the fixed schedule, neither me or Phil cared if we lost out on a few 100 yuan.

Our apartment was small, but it was decent.  The bed was soft and the room was bright.  It didn’t have the greatest view in the world – we had a series of train tracks outside to look at – but we  could see the city all around us since we were on the 15th floor – technically 14th.  4 is a bad number in China.  Sounds too much like the word they use for death.  Our bathroom wasn’t too shabby, but when you took a shower you had to make sure you were done by the time the number on the water heater got to 32 or so or else you would be stuck with cold water.  With me having such long hair, 32 always seemed to get there way too quickly.  It was always like a race against a ticking time bomb, and I always seemed to flipping lose!

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When Cars Attack

bya Gabrielle at 9:21 PM

Today, when Phil came home from lunch, he walked in and immediately said, “A car drove into one of the apartments and smashed up a few cars, too.”  I had to see it to believe it.

Just like Phil said, a car had jumped the curb, obliterated one car, dented the hell out of another one, and had driven head first into the front left side of the apartment building, barely missing the window.  The damage on the vehicle indicated speed, but I couldn’t fathom why the car had been driving so fast and how the accident occurred.

After lunch, I took the trash out, and decided to stop and ask some of the people standing around what had happened.  The woman I had talked to said she had seen the car right outside the apartment complex, before the accident, with a 50 gallon trash can lodged under the car.  Two cops were parked next to it.  She said that while at a gas station, the accelerator of the car had gotten stuck and forced the guy to run over the trash can.  The cops looked at the car, did something to it, and let the guy go.  Ten minutes later, driving into the apartment complex, the accelerator got stuck again.  The car rapidly increased in speed.  Nothing the guy did could stop it – at least not that he could think of while it was happening.  I don’t know how or why he decided that ramming into a line of cars and a apartment was a good idea, but that is what he did.

Thankfully, no one was hurt, but man, I felt bad for the pretty Mustang that got taken out.  I can’t imagine how the owners of the cars felt when they went outside and saw the carnage.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard of an accelerator getting stuck.  A year or so ago, I was watching the news, and saw where a woman had called 911 from her cell phone because she couldn’t get her car to stop.  She couldn’t even get it to slow down.  The car was reaching speeds like 80 or possibly more, it may have been a 100, before two cop cars smashed into both sides of her car to make it stop.  I really hope my car never does something crazy like that.  I don’t how I would react.

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Feed Me, Seymore, Feed Me!

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

This is what happens when you throw left over, supposedly dead seeds into a pot and have no intention of them becoming anything.

When they first sprouted, we thought they were all cucumbers, so we we let them climb up a tomato cage. Big mistake. Turns out, a lot of our supposed cucumbers are actually cantaloupe. Now we have to support the cantaloupes hanging in the sky by pantyhose. Yes, pantyhose. At least, that is what the internet suggested for people who don’t have a lot of space in their garden. You can’t really see it in this photo, unless you look really, really hard, but there is a cantaloupe hanging 3/4ths of the way up(center). It is a slightly less green. I really hope this pantyhose idea works.

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Chinese Birthday Cake – Lotus Candle

bya Gabrielle at 4:26 PM

I’ve been meaning to put this up forever, but finally managed to allot myself some time last night in order to get it uploaded to youtube. It is not a fantastic video or anything, but I thought that the lotus candle was really cool. I wish we had candles like this here. (Perhaps we do, but I’ve never seen one.) They would make birthdays even more exciting.

First, the story. Then the video clip.

When I went to the cake store to buy Phil and Maya’s birthday cake, I ran into Mr. Zhou, the Foreign Affairs Director. He didn’t waste half a second to offer to purchase the cake for me when he found it why I was buying it. He pulled out several crumbled bills out of his pocket and handed it to the lady at the cash register. Talk about perfect timing. He saved me about 100 yuan. Actually, it was probably less than that, but I can’t remember exactly.

I thought that I would have to call to have the cake made in advance, like we do in here, but all I had to was point at a picture and wait 15 minutes. They already had the cake made, all they had to do was decorate it. I got to look through the window and watch as they made it, which was pretty cool. The woman who made the cake did it very quickly, like she had done a half a billion before this one. If I have to decorate a cake all fancy, it takes me hours, not minutes.

When she was all done, she handed me the cake in a box, a few plates, some folding forks, and a bag with a candle in it. And off to the party I went. It was probably one of the easiest most painless things I had ever done in China.

Of the 11 laowais living in Fuyang during my 5 months stint, we celebrated at least 9 birthdays. Toward late December, I didn’t want anymore cake. I think everyone was starting to get sick of cake. I still think it is amazing that we had a birthday to celebrate almost every two weeks.

I’ve got more stories to tell about the candle, but I will save that for a later post this week. Until then, enjoy my retarded little video. If you can see any of the room, it is our living room. Pretty big huh?

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Once Upon A Time in China Part 1 – The Crying Boy

bya Gabrielle at 8:32 PM

During my year and three day stint in China, there were a lot of things that happened that I never got around to blogging about. So, I want to take this time to go a little retro and return to those memories before they leave me forever. Some may be long and drawn out affairs, while others may just be a few lines. I don’t know how many memories I will be able to muster up, so this project may only last a week or so. Hopefully, once I start writing, more and more memories will return to me. They may be more meaningful to me, but perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy them, too. Well, without further adieu, let’s jump head first into a random memory. This one is a bit funny, crazy and perhaps a bit sad, depending on how you look at it.

On no particular day in Fuyang, Phil and I started down our 118 stairs, 20 of which were between our bedroom and the front door, to venture out for the day. We were down about one and half stories, when a little Chinese boy ,about the age of five, ran into us on his way up. He stopped dead in his tracks, took one look at us, and turned back the way he’d come at about four or five times the speed. Before we could blink, he was gone. Phil and I looked at each other to make sure we weren’t wearing scary Halloween masks, and then continued our descent. We were laughing. Neither one of us had ever had such an encounter before.

A few stories down, we ran into a young Chinese woman with a rather confused look on her face. It turned out that she could speak English, a little at least, and was on her way to our apartment to visit our roommate, Michael. She said that her son had just ran past her. She called to him a few times, but there was no reply. We said goodbye and down the stairs we went.

When we got to the base of the staircase we didn’t see the boy. It was as though he had just disappeared. After a moment or so of looking around, Phil took a look to the right of the stairs and spotted him. The boy was white, tears were streaming down his face and he was clutching a dirty, rusty pipe as though someone had just opened a hatch into outer space and if he let go, he’d be sucked out.

“Oh, it’s okay,” I said. “I’m sorry.” We both took a step closer to him. We were only trying to comfort and show him that there was nothing to be afraid of, but apparently, it didn’t work. The boy started wailing and more tears poured from his eyes. We got down in a crouch, thinking that if we were down at his level it may help. It didn’t. He wailed and cried some more, clutching even tighter to the pipe. A few moments later his mother appeared and tried to get him to come with her. He wouldn’t budge. Finally, we figured that we weren’t helping and decided to back off. Still in view of us, he refused to let go of his pipe. His mother continued to try and coax him back up the stairs, but he just wouldn’t move. We apologized and decided to get going. We felt very bad, but a part of our souls just couldn’t stop laughing as we turned the corner and went on with our day.

I of course didn’t have a camera at the time, but the boy looked something like this.
“Get away from me, White Devils!”

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Hall of Chinese Panoramas

bya Phil at 9:48 AM

Alas, you’ve found the hall of Chinese panoramas…
***Now updated to work for Firefox and IE users.

***Click on the image once, then click again and drag it around.

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