Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Living in China (December 5, 2007)

So this last weekend, was yet another trip into Beijing. This time, we only explored one shopping area near the Xidan subway terminal. I only had time to wander into 3 large buildings: 2 of them had genuine clothes at genuine prices, while the last one had fake stuff, just like the Silk Market. What I discovered there, in terms of pricing, was fairly shocking. Everything real, from shoes to jackets to beanies were all priced anywhere from $25USD to $300USD more. What does this say about shopping in China? Don’t. From all the data I’ve gathered, China is a good place to buy little things such as pens, toiletries, food, etc. Everything you would buy at a Wal-Mart or Target is cheaper here by quite a bit, but anything else, where quality is a major factor, like electronics, good clothes, and shoes can be purchased in the US for much cheaper.

I have a little side-rant to go off on though. In the last few weeks, things that you would expect as being standard have been “breaking” and that totally puts things in perspective, but it does not alleviate the frustration that is felt. One 2 occasions the water has stopped functioning. When I reported it to our handler, she said that it was campus-wide. Mind you, it always occurs at around 9:00PM-1:00AM. WTF. It’s really something special when you come home from eating dinner, go to the sink, get some soap all lathered up in your hands, and reach for the water knob to find that there is no water. The same thing applies when you get all ready to take a shower to get cleaned up and nothing comes out of the shower head. I have never experienced this in the US…ever. How can water just be shut off?

The next rant is with the electricity and the Internet. The Internet connection is already slow as all hell, but when we lose connection for days at a time, it really puts a damper on one’s quality of life. For all of the other people in the world who don’t use the Internet much, it would be equivalent to all the TV channels being switched off. What is one to do? I know that I can read a book or something but sometimes all you want to do is to blow 5 hours of your life looking at random stuff on the Net.

As for the electricity, I’m used to that because it happened so often down in Tucson, but usually that occurred during or after a monsoon rainstorm…not randomly out of nowhere. I think I’m more annoyed at the frequency than the length. Back in the States, it would go off anywhere from 10min to 1 hour, but it happened only a few times a year. Here it goes off for 5min to 30min but it happens multiple times every 2 weeks. Very annoying. It’s funny because I’m usually working on my laptop and to the side I have the school’s computer playing a DVD. When the electricity goes out, it becomes dark, the school’s computer shuts off, but I continue with what I’m doing on my laptop via battery power. I usually mumble “great” and continue to ponder how utterly lame it is.

Other than that it’s freezing here, and when it’s a windy day, it becomes God-awful freezing. Go China.