We’ve moved in to the new digs.
It almost feels like a new start. Already I have seen familiar faces and frequented the local deli (it’s a Western Food store-expensive but ALL foods from US). My negative attitude and laziness has lifted and I feel that we can finally settle here and get familiar with GZ.
As for our apartment complex, it is very nice. The buildings, or towers as they are called, are situated in a circle above restaurants, cafes, shops and, my favourite, Corner’s Deli. In the middle of this is a nice fountain and some gardens. It’s all well kept and a nice place to enjoy a drink (coffee is good, juice is good and cocktails are good), a meal (lots of variety) or just a stroll around the gardens. Each tower also has a doorman. This is something that we’ll have to get used to. Each time I come out of the elevator, he rushes to the front door to open it for me. Each time I come into the lobby, he hustles from behind his desk to get the elevator before I do. And then we stand together and wait for it to arrive. Once I step into to the elevator he pushes the button for my floor and stands at the doors until they close. In one word: awkward but at the same time nice. They all speak some English but you never know if it’s going to be Ni hao or Hello. Keeps me on my toes.
Our apartment is also very nice. And it is huge. Three bedrooms and a study, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen, dining and living area. I don’t have enough stuff to fill it up. We also have a total of 4 balconies: two facing the gardens, one off of the kitchen for laundry and one off of the dining area, not sure what it’s for…bikes possibly. Needless to say, I am finally setting in.
In addition to the move (2 days ago) we have been up to a few things. First, for me, I joined a fitness challenge. I did this for obvious reasons: to get fit and healthy. But there are incidental benefits as well, such as making more friends through group training sessions. The group of people doing this challenge (over 150 in GZ, mostly Westerners) are very friendly and share the same interests: getting fit and healthy. The other benefit of this challenge is the meal planning. Since moving to GZ both Joel and myself have gone blank on meals. We have forgotten our basic meals, and even the ones I know, I have no idea where to get the ingredients! Meal planning is going to help SO much. The woman who organises this program, Kara, or Coach as she is known around GZ, is a Canadian that has lived here for 14 years! Shocking! I know! She loves it and is a hard core trainer and knows her stuff, especially her food stuff. So helpful. So, with this 10 week challenge, I intend to work hard and make a lot of friends. Good plan I think.
Other little adventures for us were going to Shamian Island on Saturday. Lovely little island. Want to know more…read me!
We wandered around finding gardens, fountains, historical buildings, bronze statues and even a converted train carriage at a wedding venue. Although the weather was not ideal, we still enjoyed the day out and about.
The following day (Sunday) we spent half the day out at the Leather Market and (again) Wedding Dress Street. The leather market was pretty interesting. Aside from being an indoor, multi-level building with small shops, not market stalls like I expected, there was also people hanging around asking “you want knock-off bag?” or “you want fake watch?”. As a friend said, don’t stop moving, you’re a target for these people if you stop. We did not buy any “fake” or “knock-off” bags but I did get in idea what I want to get next time we go. Unfortunately Joel was not as impressed by the wedding dress shops as I was, but he still tagged along and even got himself a shirt and tie for the ball. And my dress was a success. It fit. That is success enough for me.
As for me, I ventured out on my own a few times last week which included walking to Ikea and finding the world’s saddest aquarium (where I did not visit). My least favourite place in GZ. Once I saw the massive banner in the mall, my stomach dropped and I knew I’d found the worst aquarium ever. It is an odd feeling to be in a shopping mall, a BIG mall, and know there is a collection of arctic animals 6 floors up. As tough as it was to change my mood, it was altered by my exploration into the depths of the mall (and by depths I mean, basement levels, deep down under streets), attempting to find the train line to get home. I walked and walked and walked through corridors filled with nail salons, shops for hats, socks, shoes, bubble tea, dumplings, etc. etc. etc. It was massive. I wanted to get home so I didn’t doddle too much, but I will be going back, just to see what there (and do some shopping). Ikea was also an event. In my 20 minutes walking through, I saw 2 children napping in beds, two people reading books at a desk, a person watching TV on their phone in a bed, and someone napping on a couch. This was probably a slow day at Ikea. I look forward to the next trip at a more suitable “napping” time.
And as for moving on with this week, yesterday marked the first day of social planning (not in a group). Lunches and coffee dates along with some shopping trips are in my near future which makes me feel like I am truly making this a home (if only for three years, it will still be home). This week also marks a Chinese Holiday, Mid-Autumn Festival. We have already been given a few boxes of moon cakes. Mixed reviews on the flavours, but we have to try them all so I will give a detailed review in the next blog.
And now that we have been here exactly one month, it should be known we want visitors. We want people to come and see the life we have here and also to experience China, or just GZ and HK for themselves. As we become more familiar with GZ, we want to show family and friends around (note: middle of summer is not enjoyable here so try to avoid those months otherwise you will experience those sweaty days I complained about for the last month).