More of the neighborhood

For the first week we lived in Beijing, we only knew about one grocery store, CSF.  Our second Saturday here (our 8th full day), Jacob, a man Brandon works with took us to the bank to set up a Chinese bank account* and he also took us to a cell phone store (China Unicom) in order to get new cell phones.**  While driving us around he pointed out that just a block further in a direction we hadn’t been is where the KFC, Dairy Queen and a second grocery store, Unimart, are.

Once we established where to get food, we started exploring in other directions of our neighborhood.  The kids get tired of all the walking so they aren’t always as eager to just wander and see what we find.  I may have ruined them with that 3+ mile walk to Walmart.  Now that we have working cell phones, I’ll bring various kids with me and leave different kids home.  Usually I take Buddy and leave PS home with the other boys and she can email me and I can email her.  Or I leave Buddy and Little Guy home and bring PS and Squirt with me.  This is a little easier (no Little Guy complaining of all the walking) and no train of 4 kids with me everywhere I go.  Keep in mind, B works just across campus from us and if needed, could get home in 5 minutes.  And I’m not going far, just walking.

Our grocery store is about straight out from our building but a block further, so it’s in the middle of a big block. On the one end of that big block is our subway stop and on the other end is the street we turn on to get to the new grocery store. We hadn’t ever crossed that big intersection by our subway stop and I was sure there were more treasures over there so we tried it one day.  It has a pedestrian bridge and I was wrong, there wasn’t much over there.  Although there is a sculpture park, (I think it was part of the Olympic spirit because I’ve been told there are sculptures by an artist from each country represented in the Olympics, we haven’t explored it ourselves yet).

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On the bridge with the other side of the intersection in the background. The buildings above Princess Sparkley’s head are on our street, but across Yuquanlu and that’s where the other teacher’s at B’s school live, off-campus.

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Looking toward our grocery store about halfway down on the right.  The turquoise building is a pharmacy.  I only went in once and there is a group of women dressed in uniform (sort of nurse like) waiting to help you.  They walk you to what you need, and write out a “prescription” and then you take it and the item to the counter to pay.  When I went in she took me to the counter where the young man spoke some English and he told her what I was looking for.  It was weird.  I’m a pretty independent shopper so it’s unnerving to have SO MUCH customer support in every store.

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This is on the bridge near the pharmacy looking kitty-corner from it.

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This is kitty-corner from the pharmacy (you can sort of see it’s color behind the Yuquanlu station sign).

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We walked until we saw a gas station and there wasn’t much as far as businesses and shops so we turned around.

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On some of our grocery trips, the kids get to pick a drink when we are headed to check out.  We’ve enjoyed exploring some of the Chinese flavors.  There’s a yummy apple soda.  There’s Pepsi with lemon.

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There’s a bridge on Fuxing Rd. (FU-shing) that goes from about our grocery store to across that street.  This is looking toward the intersection we just took across Yuquanlu.  The air is bad, not stormy.  This is mid afternoon on a red air day.  Red is unhealthy. Our first couple of weeks here, I was trying out various ATMs to see which ones had English instructions and which ones would work with our bank.  One that I found that worked was across the street by a post office.  Princess Sparkley liked balancing on the pole there and had me take her picture.

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Looking the other way on that bridge.

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I have come across two of these Mao (?) statues… not sure what they are yet.  This one is on Fuxing across from our CSF.

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Weird… car, we passed on our way home.

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A sort of fancy alley we cut through to get to the CSF grocery store.  It doesn’t have a name on maps and all the buildings are addressed to Fuxing Rd. (the road CSF is on).  The buildings all say CRCC (China Rail something something).  I think they are apartment buildings owned by CRCC or housing their employees, or something.  One of them has a pool on the main level that I see people come in and out of.  There’s also a basketball court, some courtywards with exercise equipment (like bars for stretching, etc.) and a bocci court. These all seem private.

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Our street has these phone booths every 50 feet or so… no idea why.

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This is the south gate of B’s campus.  It’s the one by our building, the red one.  The west gate is by his office.  There are always guards, I think they are mainly keeping vehicles out.  There are guards on lots of the smaller streets but I think it is just to keep down traffic.  There are also guards charging for parking in the parking lots of some businesses.  When we were to the bank a few blocks away to set up our bank account Jacob had to pay to park.  It was really inexpensive though, we were less than an hour and I think he paid 2 Yuan which is 33 cents.  Maybe I’m wrong on how much he paid though.

*They don’t have joint bank accounts in China.  We tried to get two cards for B’s work account so that I could have one.  They then set up an account for me.  Once we realized that my “card” was a new account which would be useless to me, we tried to get them to cancel it.  They ended up having me withdraw the transfer of 100 Yuan from B’s account so I have a Chinese bank account with no money in it rather than go through the hassle of shutting the account.  ??  We just went with it.

**My cell phone broke in the States a day before we left without leaving enough time for the Best Buy replacement plan we’ve been paying for each month to do anything about it.  Plus, we got here and found out our phones have non-removable SIM cards so we had to get new phones anyway.  In China, you pay for the phone (no free phone because you sign a 2 year contract), Samsung and Apple phones are pricey (even more so than in the U.S.), and you also pay for the plan all at once.  Well, we paid for 6 months of both our plans (separate plans, we weren’t even going to ask about family plans after the bank fiasco).  B found out today from his students that incoming texts don’t count against your texts per month number which is good since we both get random Chinese texts twice a day (we think at least one of them is a weather report).

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