Yesterday, Alex (who is an estate agent) and his wife, Amber, took us to visit three apartments in the hope one would be suitable.
The first apartment we saw was very new; it had only just been finished. It was on the 15th floor of a brand new apartment block and was very modern inside. However, the surroundings were still being completed and there was a lot of building work going on. The second apartment was on the fifth floor of an older block in a residential area (just behind a big Wallmart). The inside was a bit more shabby and frilly (the air conditioners seem to be wearing knickers), but there were nice gardens outside and it was a bit closer to John’s school. The third apartment was downtown. The location was great and on paper the apartment seemed good, especially as it was split level. However, inside it was dingy and dirty and the layout was a bit odd.
After a little consideration we decided to take the second apartment. Alex did some negotiating with the landlady to bring the rent down a bit, and then we met up with her yesterday to sign the paperwork and pay the deposit. Alex dropped the key off for us today and we can move in on Monday. It feels great to have our own place.
We also managed to sort ourselves out with Chinese phones yesterday – with much assistance from Polly. We decided we wanted to get new phones as well as a sim card (my current phone is on its last legs and John wanted a new toy). It took quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to figure out the phone we wanted and the paperwork for the sim card seemed to take forever. On top of this, they just laughed when I tried to pay by credit card so I had to go and find a cash point. We are learning that in China, people definitely prefer cash even for expensive purchases and for the apartment deposit.
Last night John and I popped out to a small café/ restaurant for dinner. The menu was all in Chinese, none of the staff spoke much English and we had forgotten our phrase book. Despite this, we managed to order a beer each and some food. The first course consisted of three cold dishes: one of cabbage and pine nuts, one of duck and the other of chicken. Unfortunately, the duck and chicken dishes were more bone than meat. The chicken dish even included a foot. If it was hot, I think we would have given it a go; as it was, we just did our best to pick the meat from around the bones. We were sitting in a corner, so the other customers didn’t have to witness us being so picky. Luckily, the second course was an enormous, piping hot prawn and rice soup. It was delicious and very filling. We knew the food would be different from Wok’s Cooking in Macclesfield, but we are only just learning what that actually means.