Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Quirkiness of our China Apartment

Believe it or not, with only eight months left here in Beijing, the thoughts about leaving all of it behind are beginning to creep into my mind. I wanted to document all the annoying quirky characteristics of our apartment so I can, one day, look back on them fondly. After all, these quirks help make our China experience what it is.

It looks lovely, now smell it.
First and foremost...the smell in our bathroom. It almost was a deal breaker when our one year lease came up. This disgusting smell wafts right into our bedroom. We have gone to great lengths to find the source and mask it. We started right away by bleaching the entire bathroom, thinking it was mold. Then we bought drain covers because we are sure it was coming up from the drains. The only full proof band-aid has been to keep the bathroom door closed at all times. I never, ever use the bath tub because I even smelled the odor emerging from the faucet once as I turned it on. I met our neighbor below us and she has the exact same problem.

I have attempted several times to organize this chaos.
A close second would be our lack of storage space everywhere, especially the kitchen. We have a gorgeous wall of "cabinetry" which is completely and utterly FAKE. I have broken so many prized possessions because things are nested, stacked and crammed into every inch of space we have. I guess that is what we get for moving into a hotel-like building. The management was very kind and bought me a ginormous Ikea closet. Unfortunately, they did not measure the height of it ahead of time and there is only one spot in our apartment the cabinet would fit due to ceiling height. They also did not buy any of the "guts" for the closet (rods, drawers, etc) which resulted in three trips to Ikea to find the right ones. They also bought us a food cabinet.

The hub of plugs.
Many times a day the quirk of not having any electrical outlets in our kitchen comes up. I never thought that I was taking for granted my electrical outlets all along my kitchen backsplash, but I guess I was. We have one outlet, with an outlet extender, that houses our water cooler and the toaster and the blender and the crock pot. We also do our ironing there. Outlets, overall, are few and far between in our apartment. I bought a lamp that I never have even used because there is no outlet near it

The wall of nothing.
I mentioned above the fake wall of cabinets in our kitchen. Well, those cabinets cannot open because of our luxurious bath tub... which I never use due to the smell...Have you ever walked through a shower to get to a bath tub? That is what you do in our master bath.

No counter space.
The counter space for everything.

 I have mentioned before that I only cook three times a week. This is somewhat due to the fact that eating out is extremely cheaper than cooking, but our kitchen set up is really why I hate to cook here. Besides not being able to find many of the ingredients (this week I used frozen peas instead of dried for split pea soup) the lack of countertop space makes it difficult. There have been times that I have been preparing dinner amongst piles of clean clothes, school papers and an open laptop (for the recipe). I know this sounds petty, but also the lighting is such that your head shadows whatever you are chopping or cooking. I constantly have to adjust my head to see what I am doing. 

Despite the fact that I have no dishwasher, or the fact that our washer/dryer combo takes six hours to do one damp load, or that our gas burners suddenly go out when I think something is simmering away...this is our China home for two years. We have six lovely women come to clean for us daily (for the record, I do my own dishes and laundry). The staff greets us warmly many times a day. Our dog, Jupiter, is loved by everyone. When faced with the decision to move to a more "expat complex" we decided against it. No matter what quirkiness it has, this is still home...kinda.

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