... with Chengdu, that is!
... and my new school!
... and my coworkers!
... and the ease and modernity of life here in China!
Down the elevator from my 18th floor flat, a delightful walk over garden stones, underneath shapely trees shyly offering buds to Spring, and past a calming pond, a short set of stairs leads to an underground shop in my complex where I order WiFi service. Within an hour, the service man knocks. He does his magic, and I have WiFi and cable. He kindly follows my gestures and shows me how to work the flatscreen controls and even my heater. Next is the order for bottled water, to refill my 5-gallon system. The future procedure will be to text the water service and wait; they arrive within 15 minutes. Today, my relocation assistant, Yan, sets an appointment, and they arrive. On time. I discover a problem with my shower, and maintenance is called. The response to my query of whether they will come the following day or next week is a perplexed grin from Yan and "No, we will wait, they will come now." And within 10 minutes, another knock. "Oh my! [Thank the gods] we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto!"
Much of this happens on Sunday, too!
WiFi costs 199rmb per month.
Bottled water is 22rmb, including delivery and machine maintenance.
Monthly cell service is 80rmb, which includes a new SIM.
100rmb=$15 for perspective.
Transactions occur via text on WeChat, which is linked to your bank account. Text the water company, the fee is paid electronically the dude shows up with a 5-gallon bottle and takes away the empty bottle.
15 minutes and $3 later.
There is so much more, too much more; it's all a jumble in my brain as I am still slightly time-zone-change-zombified (It's Wednesday, I woke up at 3:30 :-))
I don't know which amazes me the most: the friendliness of the locals, the modernity that surpasses the US in every way, the ease and speed of services, the helpfulness of my co-teachers, the physical beauty of my new school... there is too much to appreciate! Strangers walk past, openly stare (I stick out slightly;-)), but offer a smile to match mine and greeting "Nihao!" The stares do not appear rude or intrusive, but openly inquisitive and surprised--as though I am a new species of zebra with purple stripes, or a Unicorn! LOLOLOL! (Of course, I am!) I can't get over how friendly everyone is, I mean, not every single person, but 90+ percent of all ages and genders! This is a way of relating I have sorely missed. Texas has changed over the years, and people no longer meet your eyes on the street: when passing someone, I seek eye contact, and most avert their eyes to their phone or elsewhere and only respond with a greeting if I shock them out of their self-imposed box with a "hello". This experience was magnified in Austin, no longer a friendly city in a friendly state. I experienced the same in Korea, where it was rare to be met with eye contact and a smiling greeting on the street. But here, Chengdu, oh my Shangri-La! I am bombarded by wave after wave of connection and welcome and friendliness, so much that I feel a sense of happiness rise from walking down the street!
My apartment is amazing, though I am not settled nor comfortable yet (It's only Day 3, G!). Although it was relatively clean, I want it spotless and new, to match my desire to start fresh and new. My amazing co-teacher, P. --oh, I must tell you about how much she has done for me and helped me and guided me and wlecomed me and befriended me-- referred her cleaning service to me, so I will get a deep clean on Sunday. Can you guess how much it will cost? No, you cannot, because it is too unbeleiveable. The woman I connected with, after inquiring as to the size of my apartment and what I needed, quoted my a price of 40rmb per hour, with a minumum of 5 hours required. Sounds right to me! Those are hours of my time that I don't have to spend cleaning, since I am transitioning and every day is new with new challenges and new duties at school, and so much to do...5 hours at 40rmb is $30US. Yep, you heard it, $30US. This is why P has the cleaning service come every week or two, and her apartment only needs maintenance cleaning of an hour or two! OMG Like I said, Shangri-La!!! I have a huge (to me) two bedroom flat, with wood floors, an enclosed balcony, and laundry room with washer. The flat came furnished with a king-size in the master bedroom and a full-size in the guestroom, a flat screen TV, and pretty much everything I need except kitchenware and decor. If I was penurious, I would need to buy nothing except cookware, dishes, and towels and such. But there is an IKEA four miles north, and my friend will be sending me my artwork in the future, and I will soon learn the magic of ordering everything from WeChat off TaoBao, so I will have this lovely flat personalized soon!
Speaking of ordering online: Chinese and foreigners living in China buy so much online. All bills, services, and fees are paid via apps, food and groceries that are delivered to your door at a specified time and day (on time!) are ordered via apps, taxis and bike rentals are paid through you bank account connected with WeChat... pretty much everything is done via WeChat or apps! I (finally, thank you all the gods) can rid myself of this POS iPhone, because all of China is on 4-5G, so my phone, even with new SIM, doesn't connect to the Net very well out of the house or away from a WiFi signal, so I get to buy a new truly smart phone - either an excellent Chinese brand, or a Samsung. (You know I hate this iPhone and wanted a Samsung in the first place, so "having" to buy a new phone is more like a gift!) My co-workers try to convince me to get the Chinese brand, it is less expensive than a Samsung, so I will try to be open-minded and not such a Korea-loyalist, LOL! I am in China after all, so it is time to become a China-Loyalist, which becomes easier every day, with each interaction! (I still sarangae daehan minguk!) And bikes... oh you should see the people on bikes... more bike riders than drivers! There are rental bikes everyewhere! You rent one, and leave it on the sidewalk. No hyperbole when I say everywhere! And the traffic congestion on the bike lanes is high during peak times, LOL!
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...gallivanted across Paris, I have made it to Chengdu! As of 2021, I am headed back to China, this time to Shanghai!