Amazing how having a full time job really hinders your ability to do whatever you want whenever you want. I had no time to get my nails done, go shopping, explore on my own or just sit and hang out with the dog. How do people do it?
Well I did it and it is over. I spent 12 days working in an office, for my husband, in China. And I have to say it was an experience. I am so glad for the opportunity to see what actually goes on at the consulate (but to be honest I still don’t have a clue what Joel really does or what happens every day there so don’t ask or come to me asking how to get a visa, to China or else where because it is all way above me). So within the 2 and a half weeks we also spent a long weekend together and celebrated Christmas and Boxing Day. We had 3 other wonderful families to spend the holiday with and had a great time. And I have no proof of it because we took no pictures, at all. Which I think means a great time was had by all. No phones were out to be used as a distraction or device to keep you occupied-8 adults with no phones, not even on purpose, was great. Our Christmas day was filled with nibbles and bubbles at one apartment followed by a massive turkey lunch at another. I even made greenbean casserole, two types of potatoes and homebaked bread. Joel helped with all of these things on Christmas eve, making us feel like we really participated in teh holiday preparations together. Our hosts were amazing and looked after everyone very well. We even had 6 kids wandering/running/hollering around us but honestly they were so well behaved we barely noticed them (says the couple with no kids to actually look after and pay attention to). We played games, including Twister, which I swear has decreased in size or I have increased in size. This doesn’t mean it is any easier, I guess the larger you get the less flexibility and therefore the more difficult the game even if there is less distance between dots. And I guess Christmas went so well that we are all hanging out together for NYE. This event will have photos.
So that was the holiday. Our other days off were spent watching cricket (Joel) and shopping. My sweet husband has the patience of a saint and took me out two days and helped me pick out a winter coat for my upcoming trip to the US. I give his dad credit for the amazing trait. It also may be because he wants to ensure I don’t overspend. Either way I am grateful.
The week was concluded with two more days at the office. Because I have never had an office job, this particular type of work is foreign to me (no pun intended). I have never sat at a desk, chatted over the water cooler (literally a water cooler because we don’t drink tap water), known or understood office etiquette of who to say hello and goodbye to (other than my husband, the boss), or even when bathroom breaks are ok. Needless to say, I have learned a lot. But with all those things I learned, also know that this is China. A completely foreign country with non-native English speakers. I was surrounded by Mandarin all day, every day. They all of course can speak English, but why would they when I am the only one in the office! Most of the time I had no idea what was being said, whether is was work related (something I should be aware of) or just personal (maybe something I also wanted to chat about). After the first week I decided to put headphones in and listen to a podcast. I was already in my own little world, why not make it official. So I spent a week with headphones in and laughing to myself…and doing heaps of work of course!
But every time I would leave work and either cycle or bus it home, I was always reminding myself that I am living, and now working, in China. It still amazes me that we live here. Shanghai and Beijing are a lot more westernised. There are a lot more expats and tourists and a much larger population as well. GZ is smaller and relatively young (so it will be growing and growing to the immense sizes of the other cities soon enough). Things here are always changing and being built and being torn down and rebuilt then changed more or fixed again. It is never ending it seems. And rules change all the time too. One day there will be parking somewhere, the next day nothing. Sometimes you will get yelled at for walking in a certain spot, other times no notice. My frustrations, as previously mentioned, run deep and are significant. Joel gets annoyed by how annoyed I get then I get annoyed more…a vicious cycle that will probably only be broken once we leave. Some recent annoyances I have are kids peeing EVERYWHERE! I probably have brought this up before, but in one day I saw a kid peeing (or pooing) in a plastic bag in a clothing store, another kid standing on a rubbish bin peeing into it and also many other instances of kids peeing into the bushes. And yet they still won’t let dogs in parks. At least I clean up after my dog! Another on the top of my list is cyclists on roads. Or rather, cyclists going the wrong direction on roads, particularly multiple lane roads with many cars. While I am peddling my heart out making sure I avoid any collision with cars that never take any notice of cars, people or bikes around them, a bike will be travelling directly towards me, choosing to not change position on the roadway, make me swerve around into the lanes of cars that don’t stay in lanes. Full blown rant there, probably because this is a daily occurrence and today I actually swore at someone. Not that they noticed. Whether is was the language barrier or he really did not care, my anger went unnoticed and I had to continue my trek home.
Some days you really take your life into your hands in GZ, be it with cycling or blood pressure spikes. Lucky for me, work only was included in one of those.