I won’t have internet in my apartment until May 13 at the earliest. That’s when I get my Passport back from the Beijing authorities. The internet company won’t talk to me unless I have my actual passport, not a photocopy. Any service usually requires showing an actual passport. The entity that has my Passport is called: The Public Security Bureau.
“Paging Mr. Orwell…”
Actually, I have no idea why they took it, although it’s routine. One of the Chinese employees at EF’s HQ took me there and I have no idea what transpired in her conversation. It has something to do with obtaining my Residency Permit. Take a look at the Chinese Passport that I was issued. I don’t carry it as EF holds onto it as long as I’m here. I would love to have it to take home, at some point.
So, aside from work (more about that in a separate post) I have spent my free time shopping for the basics for my new apartment. Yesterday was Labor Day and therefore, not a work day. The other day I discovered a Walmart Super Center, one subway stop from my apartment. I know; we’re not supposed to shop there but I’m I’m no longer in America and “those rules” don’t apply. Really, it’s simply practical because I don’t have a car so I need to consolidate my shopping for brevity’s sake. So yesterday, I took two of the four ginormous bags I bought on my Ikea trip last week (more on that follows) and went on my second foray to Walmart. The first time I went, I focused on loading up my fridge which isn’t difficult because refrigerators in this country are “after-thoughts” although mine is actually on the large side. So large, that it can’t fit into my kitchen which is more of a statement about the size of the kitchen than the fridge.
The food department in Walmart is enormous and unlike any market in America. The seafood department resembles an aquarium. Next time I go, I’ll take photos. There is far more frozen food, most of which is entirely inscrutable to me. The meat department isn’t for the faint of heart. There are piles of raw meat just sitting out, uncovered and unrefrigerated. Eeek! Still, they do have samples of produce to taste and as I’ve mentioned about the market in the building, there are many varieties of fruits and veggies I have no acquaintance with. Bonus though, mushrooms, especially Shitakes are very, very cheap. When I got home from the foray, I cooked my first meal in almost a month. I was elated! I love to cook and since I use a fraction of the oil in my cooking than what one gets eating out, I can eat guilt-free, more or less. In fact, yesterday, for the first time in my life, I bought a scale. I really want to keep a lid on my weight. As it turns out, I have lost two pounds (only!) since I left the States. I’ll take ANY weight loss, thank you!
The reason I was able to cook, is that last week I went to Ikea. I have no idea where it is. One of the guy’s in the office hooked me up with a driver he uses, exclusively to take him to Ikea. He dropped me off and waited for me and took me back home and helped get the four bags of items in the elevator. The cost? $30. So I tipped him an extra $20 and the look on his face was worth it. How much would I have paid someone in America to take up half his day? I’m guessing, a whole lot more than fifty bucks.
So my kitchen is almost complete with most, not all of the basics and yes, a wok is essential in a country with few ovens. I have some new carpets and bedding for two rooms and the whole thing cost $400. Such a deal! One shopping oddity. You cannot buy knives or any size in a store, at all! They are considered too dangerous to sell although you can buy them on-line easily enough. What’s that about? How do people chop vegetables for stir-fry’s, inquiring minds ask. ( and don’t anyone dare say:”Chopsticks, of course”) I brought my “Leatherman” tool which is a larger version of a Swiss Army Knife, and has a very useful blade. I tossed into a suitcase as an afterthought. Best “afterthought” I’ve had in quite a while.
I still have a few items to buy but by and large, my apartment is complete. I love going home and especially the fact that it’s an easy 15 walk to the office. The convenience allows me to stay at the office, long after everyone’s left, so I can write this blog, although I’ve just been told the computers shut down in 15 minutes.
One last thing: Below is the Holiday Inn I live next door to. Take a look at the large building on the right. That’s my new home: 10th floor. By the way this Holiday Inn is vastly more luxurious than any I’ve seen in America. Rates start at $90 a night.