When we first arrived at our apartment on Friday morning I think we were both relieved to see how livable it was. We were kind of expecting the worst, as many employers who promise free accommodation try to put their employees in the cheapest (and thus least desirable) housing they can find. Our apartment is quite alright. It’s pretty basic, and there are some odd quirks, but we’re surviving nicely so far.
It has two floors. The first floor has a little kitchen with all the appliances we need, including a washing machine! There isn’t an oven, but this is normal for China as most cooking is done on the stove top. There’s a living room with a not very comfortable (but new and clean!!) couch and a nice new tv (which we haven’t even turned on yet- must try that out soon). The bathroom is a little strange, and was the only room we really took issue with, but even it has it’s saving graces. It has sliding doors which are cheap and leak water out into the other room. It had a Chinese toilet until a few days ago, which was essentially a big hole in the ground. But the most awkward part about it is that the shower head points out directly over the toilet. Where is one to stand when bathing?! The answer, unfortunately, is straddling the toilet. Totally strange, right? However, the bathroom does redeem itself with a good shower head, endless steaming hot water, and heat lamps in the ceiling!
Upstairs is a huge closet/storage area and a bedroom. The bedroom is okay. It came with a bed, a nightstand, and an armoire type thing, all of which are cheaply manufactured and prone to handles falling off, etc. but are just fine for us for the time being. The other big downer about the place, or rather China in general, is that the beds are rock hard. No exaggeration. Less comfortable than India, and who even thought that was possible? They did give us a comforter, sheet, and pillow to use until we got to the store, though, which was nice.
When we got here the place was freezing and dirty. However, Friday night we hightailed it directly to the store. My boss was really helpful and gave us a tour of our neighborhood and brought us to a department store type thing Friday afternoon. We immediately got cleaning supplies and a space heater which we named Winston. He is wonderful. He is our best friend in China.
Getting the room clean and warm got us by until we could get other things, most notably padding for our bed (only semi-helpful, but I think we’re both getting used to it), sheets, basic kitchen utensils, incense, and hanger/clothes line/detergent type stuff. I have to say that this stuff was not cheap and kind of hurt our pocketbooks. Had I known what a headache buying sheets would be I definitely would have brought them! I was expecting to be able to just buy inexpensive stuff here and toss it when I was done. The reality is that household things (ESPECIALLY bedding) are not that cheap, and what’s worse is unless you are willing to fork over ~$100-200 for sheets, they are painfully ugly and uncomfortable. We went all over town and searched for days and we couldn’t even find a basic solid color- only crazy, over the top patterns! We ended up paying over $100 for bedding to get pillows, sheets, a comforter and a mattress pad, and we got the cheapest (or very close to it) of everything. We figure we’re young and it’s only a year, we can tough it out. I maintain that we’ve gotten used to it and we’re quite comfortable now, but a heads up to anyone planning to move to China… Bring sheets!
Anyway, enough talk. This is what our place looks like now. Please admire our new toilet, and our rigging up of the shower head Not too shabby for a free apartment, eh?