Friday, 19 October 2007

Off to Japan...

Well we are off to Japan this Sunday so I probably won't be updating my blog during that time. Fingers crossed Blogger stays unblocked so I can do lots and lots of overdue updates from the October holiday week and also of my trip, when we get back. :)

Zhongshan Park

Yesterday I decided to do something different and do some 'exploring' which didn't involve shopping.

I took myself to Zhongshan Park (which is not far away) and had a poke around. After I walked around for 2 hours photographing various things I stumbled across the map (why didn't I see it when I first entered?) and realised I had only seen about 1/3 or 1/4 of the park! ARGH! So I'll definitely have to go back for more :)

First of all I saw this sign which could be mis interpreted.

Then I saw a stone carving on a bridge

Shuttlecock sitting amongst some leaves

A woman practising fan dancing

Father or grandfather with (grand)daughter riding a mechanical boat which you can hire

Couple sunbaking enjoying the glorious sunshine

Schoolchildren going for a picnic in the park

A man flying a kite

A dead? moth sitting on a bamboo leaf

Amazing clouds against the blue sky

Dodgem car boats

and more! (you can see more pics at my flickr account).

Now I should probably write some facts about the park...
* The park was established in 1914
* There are quite a few Zhongshan parks in China, named after Dr Sun Yat-sen, also known as Sun Zhongshan. This one in Shanghai was named in 1944.

That's all I cound find on Wikipedia.. other than that, it is HUGE!
* And supposed to have European, Chinese and Japanese design in the gardens and species.
* There are all sorts of weird and crazy amusement rides spread around the park too.
* The suburb is named for the park, and the suburb is also quite huge, encompassing three railway lines, a huge mall (Cloud Nine) and hotels, restaurants, and other shopping areas.

The Amazing Mr Fang

Our landlord is amazing. I think I have mentioned him before in regards to him paying our bills for us. Despite earning more money than us (I think) he rides a little electric bicycle everywhere and I give him our bills along with some money and he rides off into the distance to pay them all... water, gas, electricity, phone, everything. If change is required he puts it in an envelope and drops it into our letterbox. I try to let him keep the change before but he always refuses.

We've had trouble with our hot water heater ever since we moved into our apartment but it has steadily been getting worse. We can only have a hot shower for 2 mins before the hot water runs out and we need to press the button again to turn the heater on. We were so used to having cold showers during the summer months as this really didn't bother us at all.

However, now that the weather has changed (and will only get colder) we had to do something about it. So I called him and told him. The very next day he had someone deliver to us a brand new water heater! (costing 2400 RMB). It was supposed to be installed that day too (past Tuesday) but the guy couldn't make it so it was installed on Wednesday. While he and the installer guy were here I casually mentioned there is no hot water in the tap in the bathroom either (not really understanding how the plumbing works around here) and then within minutes he had a plumber guy come and fix something there too.

With a bit of bad timing, our ayi was in here too and in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment it was sheer mayhem and chaos.

The ayi commented to him about our washing machine being so slow and not washing properly. I have to admit I agreed and just put up with it. I didn't want to complain too much as he has already been such an angel to us doing so many things for us and not expecting anything in return.

However, imagine my shock when he rang me the next morning to say a new washing machine was on its way and was I going to be home. I said, no, unfortunately I'm just about to head out, could they bring it tomorrow (Friday) instead?

OK, so this morning he turned up with a brand new washing machine still in its box, with a guy to install it. As well as that, when he tried to use our phone the other day he noticed the line wasn't clear and brought us a new phone too (despite me not mentioning it at all either).

So... I think that by not complaining too much karma has worked out really well for us!!

Instead of taking 2 hours (and not doing a good job either) and being tiny, our new washing machine now takes 30mins and does a much better job and holds 3x as many clothes. Our hot water heater has a digital thermometer on the front where we can adjust the temperature, and a cute little showerhead logo pops up whenever the shower is being used. How cool!

Mr Fang is the best! :D

Hayfever and Pomelos

There are so many things I could write about now, all overdue of course, but I'll just write about today for now. Over the last two weeks or so the weather has changed dramatically. Gone are the blissfully warm yet comfortable temps that were to be had in late September and the first week of October (the week long public holiday). Although it is still sunny during the day the air is now cool and dry. Very dry.

My and my husband's hayfever have come back with a vengeance! In Australia many many people suffer from hayfever and I suffered from it quite badly, having it year round, some days worst than others. Whilst I was in China (and heck I noticed this whenever I was in ANY other country apart from Australia) my hayfever did not exist. At all. I put this down to the extremely dry climate in Australia coupled with too many allergenic plants, grasses, flowers, etc.

So, it is quite a rude and unfortunate shock that I find myself suffering from this horrible thing once again - red, itchy eyes, itchy palate (roof of inside of mouth), watery runny nose, sneezing, even headaches. It's just yuck and makes me feel like I have a cold, which of course I don't. It's not so bad inside our house where I haven't used the air-con but with indoor heating it seems to be particularly bad as it's so dry inside.

Anyway, this morning I was talking to my ayi and she said she had itchy eyes and a friend of my great aunt (who she also works for) had similar symptoms and to relieve them, I was supposed to get some kind of special fruit and rub it all over my face, particularly my nose. So away she went to the market across the road, and came back with a fruit I had never seen before. It was green and had the smell of a lemon. The skin was extremely thick, soft and spongy and bright white, while the flesh looked like grapefruit, heck it even tasted like grapefruit except much blander, and sweeter and not at all bitter. (the pic above does not give you an idea of how big it is though - it is roughly the size of a small coconut). In Chinese it is called yòuzi (柚子).

I laughed and dismissed this crazy Chinese idea but she kept forcing me to do it. She ripped apart the skin of this (what I later found out was a) pomelo and gave me a piece the size of a business card and forced me to rub it all over my face. Actually, after a while it did feel quite soothing and the smell was really nice and not at all overpowering. It was probably a good exfoliant for my face too! (haha).

I am used to weird Chinese medicial and health related 'ideas' so I was not shocked by this but I found the whole idea rather amusing!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

I'm Back :)

I can't believe it's been about 6 weeks since I updated this blog. It's not my fault though. Pkblogs refused to work for me, some firefox script thingy didn't work, and I couldn't make Tor work either. I think I'm just stupid :( Either way, I couldn't get into my blog at all.

Now, the best news is that blogger is unblocked!!! Yay!!! But for how long...? <_<

Hopefully it stays this way so I can write a billion entries...