Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Transition

The transition from the Kingdom of Thailand to the People's Republic of China has been less smooth than I had hoped for, but overall another great learning experience.  While I would love to say that it was made without bruises and tears, at times I think that I have personally felt the strain of starting a new life, in a new place, with a different language and many different customs.  
I must admit and say that we have met some amazingly nice people and have had the best experience with meeting fellow expats and nationals who have done their utmost to help us move in without any headache.  
We were picked up from the airport after going through security and immigration during the height of the preparation for the G20.  I had anticipated that this would take us hours.  We cleared everything in under 30 minutes.  I was blown away.  
Also, after living in Thailand for a year, I was also shocked by the lack of traffic.  We drove for about an hour and made it to our new place.  
Which is a 6th floor walk-up. 
Guess we are both going to be skinnier whether we like it or not.  
Based on just the different buildings that I have had the chance to visit during my short two weeks here, I am starting to think that elevators might not be a thing in this part of the country.  
Sadly, just looks like that is part of the transition.  I am proud to say though, that we are both able to climb the stairs with no problems, so I guess our health is not as bad as we thought.
The transition period was rough.  We moved in the night before a funeral was happening near our neighborhood, so we got Chinese funeral music day-and-night for about three to four days straight.  It was clashing of symbols, instrumental, fireworks, etc.  It sounded like a bad movie on repeat.  Needless to say that whenever the CD or whatever needed to be switched over we gave a silent prayer that it was finally over.  It was not.  They only took a break from about 11:30pm until about 5:00am.  Couple this with the fact that we were sleeping on a futon on the floor of the living room because the air conditioner was not working in the bedroom, and we were a bit... exasperated.  
We were able to find some great quality local food and took the time to get to know the school area.  
The air conditioner has since been fixed and life is starting to return to the normal routine of prep for lessons, teach, go for a run, eat some dinner, sleep, etc. 
Most of the minor repairs in the apartment have been made, and we have had the chance to make a few friends here and there from both the local and expat community.
Sadly, since facebook and google do not work, it might be a long time before I have the chance to upload photos to the blog... since it is hosted as a google domain.  Oh well though, I guess that this is the price of traveling to certain parts of the world.  
Overall, the transition was quite difficult at first, but we have been quite lucky to have a few people who have gone above and beyond to help us transition easier.
Now, for the list of frustrations:
1. The internet here is abysmal.  Sometimes it is almost comedic, but when the phone says you are covered by "4g" but you have trouble sending a text message, you start to wonder if perhaps 4g means something quite different.
2. Wifi is spotty at best.  While it is nice that there are a lot of free networks scattered around, it is hard to use most of them because they can be very spotty.  God help you if you want to upload a photo or stream a movie.  Ain't gonna happen.  Now, I know that people will read that and say that these are things that you just don't worry about.  You know, go outside and enjoy stuff.  Well, when you transition from being a tourist to actually living in a place, these are things you care about.  Sorry, I have never met an expat that does not count wifi as a vital part of daily life.  Communication is key.
3. Getting things repaired.  The school has been very helpful in the process of getting our apartment fixed up, and all the odds and ends working, but I cannot tell you how many times the man has been up to repair our sink, and god help them if my internet ever decides it wants to work steadily instead of this intermittent fiasco that creates more headaches than it solves.  
While it may seem like I am complaining about the transition a lot, overall it has been quite a good move and a good experience.  We are currently waiting on our boxes from Thailand so that we can add the things that will turn this from a temporary dorm room into somewhat more of a home.  God only knows how many boxes I will have to carry up these six flights of stairs...
Well... 103 stairs... and 103 Stairs down...
Times that by 8 boxes... 
206 stairs by 8 boxes... 
1,648 stairs... 
Yeesh, I am not looking forward to that.