Drinks

Blue Sprite.  It’s minty. Bleh.

One of our new favorites: +C and after reading about it online, there’s a +C Honey I need to find since my dad and I were obsessed with Honey Lemon soda on our 1990 Japan trip.

Beibingyang (Arctic Ocean) soda: flavors are (from R to L), orange, tangerine, and death (or, as they call it, plum). We like orange best, it reminds me a little bit of Cactus Cooler.

Most soda cans here have the old pop tab that comes off.

There are also some yummy juices.  Peach juice looks gross but is good.  Kiwi juice is okay.  Tropicana has varieties of juice mixes.  I like one that is peach/cherry/? and there are others that are similar and quite tasty.

There are news stands quite frequently on our block (or small shops) so we’ll go pick up a soda or an ice cream bar every once in awhile/every day.

Random Shots from Around the Neighborhood

 Walking past our building on a rainy day.
The west gate of campus is the main gate.  B’s building that he teaches in is to the left in this picture. Past the red diamonds is the street (Yuquanlu) and the building across the way is on the other side of the street.  Not sure what it is, mall/condos/?. The little gray building next to the buses on the left is the mailroom.
Guy playing a little flute.  I’ve seen him here twice now.  This ones for you, Angela.
In front of the baby store by our grocery store.  PS loved Miffy when she was a toddler.  There are also statues for some hunter and bear cartoon that is big here.  And Transformers, but there will be more about that later.

Sitting at the base of the red diamonds on B’s campus waiting to go to the visa office one day.

 At Dairy Queen.  Tuna Hot Dog and Mashed Potato Hot Dog.

Teeny tiny whipped cream at a grocery store one subway stop and a long walk away called Carrefour.

Bulk M&Ms in little pyramid shaped packages with about 6 candies per package.  And they don’t have peanut butter and chocolate candies here! :(!!

Vehicles

They have an over abundance of workers here.  This woman is a litter removal person who rides a scooter/bike around.  The best part, their litter pick up sticks are giant chopsticks!  Can you see them in the picture?

Now, on to the crazy vehicles/bikes/trucks/scooters/cars we see all over.

This company is like the FedEx of mainland China, nothing international.

And I found out these interesting facts:

-There is an aspect of your license plate, I think a number, that restricts you from driving a certain day of the week to limit pollution/cars on the road.

-Electric scooters/motorcycles/bikes all count as bicycles and as such, can ride on sidewalks, etc.

-Electric scooters/etc. are much easier to purchase/permit/etc.

Riding the Subway to Church

The Beijing Subway Map
We live on line 1 (red), way out to the left a few stops from the end near Yuquanlu (You-chwon-loo) station.  To get to church we have to take the red line from Yuquanlu to Fuxingmen (Foo-shing-men).  There we transfer to line 2 (blue) and take it up and over (to avoid the downtown part of line 1 which gets crazy crowded) to Dongzhimen (Dong-dgee-men).  From there we take 13 (yellow) for one stop to Liufang (Lou-fong). Here’s a Beijing map of it all:

It takes about an hour and a half from door to door.  Squirt hates it.  And so far, the subway has been crowded and so full of stairs that it’s actually easier to not take the stroller, which is sort of a pain.

From last week, 9/21: These are all taken on our last train which is empty when we get on it so we all got seats.

B captured this on an earlier train that was much more crowded.  Usually people will quickly give up a seat for a parent with Squirt and sometimes for the other kids as well.  That’s been really nice.

From this week, 9/28, B has to work (in order to get a week off starting October 1 for China’s National Day) so I was on my own with the kids.

We’re pretty famous on the subway since there are four kids and they are all light-haired but Squirt is super popular.  He gets his pictures taken several times on the way to and from church.  Some selfies with Chinese ladies.  Some people know enough English to ask.  Sometimes I can just see the reflection of the phone screen of the people across the aisle and I can see that they are taking his picture.

Our first Sunday, while walking through the station to the third train we started to see Americans dressed for church and followed them.  It was an English teaching group associated with BYU-I. Now we are the people to follow.  This Sunday and last Sunday, vacationers ran into us and asked to follow us to church.  It seems like most members drive cars/taxis to church but there are a handful of us that take the subway.

Money

Money = Yuan  (the symbol ¥  or the character: 元)
Renminbi = Chinese monetary unit (RMB)

The current exchange rate is ¥6.13  = $1 USD. So, any price tags you see in photos, divide by 6.

 1 yuan = about 17 cents
 The 1 yuan is also a coin, 17 cents.

 5 yuan is about 83 cents.

 10 yuan is about $1.67.

20 yuan =about $3.33

50 yuan is about $8.33 but we rarely get them and they go fast since no one likes taking 100 yuans.

 

 100 yuan = $16.67. These appear to be highly counterfeited so most places have a machine to check for authenticity. Or they won’t accept them. One of the French bakeries we go to runs it through a machine and then keeps a log of their serial numbers.

Now for the small stuff.  We have a huge collection of this already because it seems so inconsequential a sum of money that we don’t carry it around.


Okay, so these are bills, but they are smaller then the other bills (both in physical size and in value). This is half of 1 yuan, so about 9 cents.

And this is a 1 jiao, a tenth of a yuan. So this is worth about 1 and a half pennies.

Coins: the top one is a 1 jiao (the bill above).  The middle one is a 1 yuan coin (already pictured earlier).  The bottom one is a 5 jiao coin, (the other bill above).

B’s school moved some salary around and paid him part of next August’s pay this August, or something like that.  And they didn’t yet have his bank account information so they just handed him an envelope full of 100 yuan notes.

THEN, they also gave him his reimbursement money (visa application fees, his airline ticket, etc.) in an envelope full of 100 yuan notes.

Our Kitchen

Most Chinese apartments don’t have ovens and if they do, they tend to be teeny, toaster oven-sized.  Ours came with an oven and it’s large microwave-sized which is actually about the size of our oven in our last kitchen in Virginia.

We also have three burners (gas), which, after browsing an appliance store, also seems unusual.  Most stoves look like they only come with two burners.  And most stores have a wide variety of hot plates as well.

Microwave.  And a toaster on top of it.  We have very limited outlets in our kitchen so the cupboard (yes, in the cupboard) above the microwave is where we have to plug in extra appliances (crockpot, rice cooker, toaster, etc.)

Our fridge (on top) and freezer (on bottom). We’ve actually rearranged a little to let more light in that window too.   And water cooler.  When we need water we call a number and say “one.”  The woman says, “okay, bye bye” and within an hour a delivery guy replaces our water jug for 18 Yuan ($3).  The call and say “one” set up was put into place for all the teachers with a certain water company.  Twice though I’ve gotten a person who isn’t in the loop and just hangs up on us so we have to call again later.

Also, no dishwasher, which stinks.  And the water in unsafe coming out of the tap so washing dishes is a long, annoying process.  Luckily we recently found packs of paper plates larger than 10 plates at Sam’s Club.