Monday, August 20, 2012
C-Land is a funny place sometimes...a lot of the times. The image above is a stack of bills for my apartment that I paid recently. I say for my apartment because some of the bills are from before I even moved in, but I got tired of trying to convince the water company that I didn't owe them for that time, and the amount was so small, that I finally just paid the whole sha-bang.
The grand total of 18 bills, covering 18 months of water was 663.40 yuan (roughly 100 USD)----amazing!.
Now granted, while some of the bills were for before I even moved into my apartment, the vast majority of them I have to take responsibility for. I also have to take responsibility for all the electricity bills that I never pay on time.
But here's the thing. To pay the bills on time means using this machine in the local quickie mart (LianHua) which is all in Chinese. Even though there are generally an average of 4-5 available employees in the LianHua, none of them ever want to take time out of chatting to help me decipher what the characters mean. The other option is walking around the block to a different quickie mart... the one next to the famous DongXi Shop, and pay your bills there. This is much easier as you just hand money to a real person and they give you a receipt. However, even though I walk around with the bill in my bag so I can pay it whenever I happen to be over there, I usually forget when I AM over there, and then when I remember, the lady won't take my money because it's "too late." :( sad face. So, save the rare occasion that I decide to revel in my "adult-ness", I've all but given up on this tactic, and instead, have opted for Option B.
Now picture with me the wonderful "Option B" (otherwise known as: "option wonderful", "option convenient", "option why-in-the-world-would-I-chose-another-option"): the water company, or electric company sends a lovely Chinese grandma or grandpa to your door... and you pay them. Done and done.
Wonderful! And I know what you're thinking:
"What if they turn off your water? Your electricity??"
As proved by my apartments bills from 2007, there are no late fees, and they don't turn off your water or electricity (at least not immediately).
Over my years in Shanghai I have convinced many of the benefits of Option B. The only down-side? They somehow often decide to come at 8am on a Saturday, at which point a blurry eyed me hands them some pink funny money, they go away, and I go back to sleep. Still easier than Option A. :D
Posted by janai at 12:09 AM
Monday, June 06, 2011
All over China there are these amazing shops that I like to call DōngXi (东西) Shops. DōngXi literally means "east and west" and basically means "thing"—and that's exactly what these shops are full of—things. From socks, to pots, to snacks, to tools, to floor mats, to phone cards—these shops have it all. If there is ever some random thing that I need, I immediately head to the DōngXi Shop that is just outside the apartment complex I live in. Generally speaking, the people who own these shops have created the shop out of their personal living space, leaving them a small room behind or above the shop as their actual living area.
Now don't get confused. As many of you who know me well know, I like to make up words and make up meanings for words. I have begun to do this in C-Land as well, coining the phrase DōngXi Shop. I have no idea what these little shops are actually called, or if they even have a name, but it makes my heart happy to know that there are a handful of people walking around Shanghai referring to them as DōngXi Shops.
The second most amazing thing about these shops (behind the sheer variety of items it supplies), is the quantity of the variety it supplies. In a very small footprint the owners create aisles barely large enough for one person, and proceed to stack items on shelves to the ceilings. Things poor off the shelves, and out the front door of the shops as the sidewalk becomes fair game for extending your shop space (also fair game for expanding your apartment space, restaurant space, etc). At night, after the shop has closed, I can only imagine how much more crammed the inside is as it struggles to hold not only what was already in the shop, but everything that once resided on the sidewalk as well.
These shops are one of the closest things I've found to garage sales in C-Land in that you just never know what you may find in them—and in that what you find is usually pretty cheap.
The DongXi Shops are also especially useful to the crafty mind. I never cease to confuse the shop owners as I evaluate the use of wire mesh for displaying photographs, or piping to act as a flagpole or to be made into mini hurdles.
To me, these shops are one of the jewels of C-land and always the first place I recommend looking when a friend says "Do you know where I could get a _________?"
Below: The aisles of the local DongXi Shop across the street from my apartment. I still haven't had a chance to truly discover everything it sells.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Did you know that a child dies from hunger-related causes every 10 seconds?
This is A Call to Arms
On April 28th the youth group I work with will be participating in something called the 30 Hour Famine.
What is the 30 Hour Famine?
Students around the world loving God and fighting hunger. It’s that simple. Every year, thousands of students unite to do the 30 Hour Famine. They learn about hunger - and then they do something about it. They raise funds. They experience hunger for themselves. Best of all? They help save lives.
If you would like to find out more about the 30 Hour Famine go here.
If you would like to learn more about World Vision, the organization that runs 30 Hour Famine go here.
Most importantly if you would like to sponsor me for the 30 Hour Famine go here. Every penny you donate will go toward fighting hunger! :) THANKS!
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
North Island via Facebook here.
South Island via Facebook here.
It all via Google Picasa here.
The trip was amazing! And it was a TON of fun to meet my family in New Zealand for the break! :) I think the photos give a pretty good overview of the trip. So I'm just going to do a quick "Highlights" of things I learned/liked.
I don't so much like traveling alone. The first 10 days I was on the North Island by myself before my parents and brother were to meet me. Sometimes it wasn't so bad. It meant that I could spend as long doing the things that I wanted, and as little long not doing the things I didn't want. It also meant that I became quite adept at using the auto-shutter-release on my camera:
If you ever do decide to travel through NZ alone, be encouraged, you don't have to be alone alone... STRAY is here to help! Stray tours are an AWESOME option for those who are traveling alone, but don't want to be completly alone, but don't want to be on a really restricting type of tour either. :)
We got to ride in a really red van-bus...
...and you have people to sand-board race against...
So to re-cap. Traveling alone + Stray Tours = Much more fun!
NZ-landers like weird fences.
Unfortunentally this is the only one that I got a photo of. But in passing I also saw one with:
and Shayne found one online with
Anyplace with Garden Gnomes is awesome! Thank you to the Waiheke Sculpture Walk for making my day!
I can jump higher than my brother the Iron Man :)
NZ-Landers either hate Opossums or don't know how to stuff animals..... or both.
You can still use the fun auto-shutter-release even when you're united with your traveling buddies!
NZ loves their coffee with milk and sugar as much as I do! Every place we stayed offered us a mini-sized bottle of milk for our coffee in the morning :) They also provided coffee each morning for drinking :)
Sometimes rain is NOT cool. Like when it cancels your ice climbing excursion and re-makes it into a glacier walk.
Sometimes rain IS cool. Like when it makes millions of waterfalls all along a 5 hour drive!
NZ is beeeautiful. No matter where you go!