So in a comment a while back, Sara of Football and Fried Rice said:
I love it when you post about your “life in China” – what it’s like to go to the market, your apartment, the daily grind. I wonder about small things like where you buy your groceries, what your subway looks like, what you do for entertainment, where do you buy your books? Where is your apartment?
We’ve done a few FAQs in the past, and I always thought it was fun. So, let’s do it again. With the temperature hovering at 5 degrees on our walk to and from work, you can be sure I don’t want to spend any more time outside than I must, so writing blogs sounds much more appealing. So, it’s either this or come up with reasons to be thankful for the winter.
I’ll get this started with answers to Sara’s questions, but let me know if you have more!
Where do we buy groceries?
We buy our groceries in the village mostly. We can buy staples like flour and rice and milk and yogurt in various small shops and markets in town, and veggies and meat from vendors on the street. For western groceries (things as simple as cheese or butter), Beijing has some shops called Jenny Lou’s. You know the Asian market in your home town? Well this is the western equivalent in China. The prices are higher than at home, but sometimes a taste of home is worth it. We also go to a large grocery store that’s about 30 minutes away sometimes… it’s crazy and hectic but has a lot of what we need.
What does your subway look like?
I’m guessing you mean the restaurant. The same as the ones in the states! Seriously! Even the same wrappers and same wallpaper! It’s really similar.
What do you do for entertainment?
Sometimes we watch western TV and movies. Not actual Westerns. Just not Chinese TV. (China has a vibrant pirated tv/dvd market, so recent shows/movies are far too easy to come by… but impossible to find legit copies of anything.) We spend far too much time on the internet. I like to bake and read books. We spend lots and lots of time with friends. We’re far more social here in China than we were in the states.
Where do you buy your books?
Alas. One of the deep sorrows of my life. No good places to buy books in Beijing. At least not big enough to have a decent selection. So I bring my books in, and beg family and friends to bring them when they visit. And then I save them. Seriously. I do. I keep novels on my shelf for months, anticipating the time that I might really need the escape a good book offers. You know what I think would be awesome? A Kindle. Then I could download most anything I want to read. But, I think I’d miss the way books feel in my hands. So for now I just have to space out my reading between stock-up trips to and from the states. No worries; it works out OK.
Where is your apartment?
In a traditional-style Chinese complex about a mile away from where we work. (It might be closer. Just feels like a mile in our winter commute.) We walk past corn fields and then the edge of our village before getting to the foster home. Our complex is made up of 7 buildings. Each building has 5 entrances and 6 floors, with 2 apartments on each floor. (My stellar math skills tell me that there are 60 apartments per building.) We live on the 3rd floor, and our next door neighbors are an extension of the foster home. Our apartment buildings are very typical Chinese apartment blocks. Nothing fancy. At all. But I have indoor plumbing, which means I’m better off than most people in the village, so I can’t complain.