Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Department of Transportation

  • 50 flights of stairs we climb every day to get to our 5th floor apartment and 5th and 4th floor classrooms
  • 7 minute walking commute we endure each day to work
  • 1 hour bus ride to ZZ (the capital of Henan)
  • 1 kai ($0.15) to rent a bike for an hour
  • 3 kai ($0.45) for an hourly moped rental
  • 0 dollars we have spend on gas so far
As you can see from the numbers above, we have it pretty nice here, transportation-wise. We have a free, mandatory stairmaster that we use multiple times a day to get to our apartment, classrooms, and dining hall. Already our calves are growing so massive that I'm getting worried that I might have to get more flared jeans because my skinny jeans will be too small!
Working up a sweat on our way to teaching
Our brutal seven minute commute each morning and afternoon is spoiling us so much that any sort of commute back home (like our 20 and 50 minute ones before) makes us wonder how we ever survived it...and how we'll ever be able to go back.

One of our many "stairmasters" (aka classrooms)
Since we don't have cars, we never spend a kai (pronounced like if a person from Boston said, "Don't be a kwai baby.") on gasoline. I can honestly say I don't miss my car one bit or the traffic, insurance, oil changes, etc. Alternate modes of transportation include the city buses (1 kai), taxis and rickshaws (3-8), and my personal favorites: bikes and mopeds!

Biking buddies...

A river runs through it...sadly no Brad Pitt though

Ben is either very excited or very surprised
For less than a dollar, you can spend a throughly enjoyable (and only occasionally life-threatening) hour or so riding around the city or countryside here. It is a perfect way to see the sights, do some shopping, or just get some "fresh" air.

Sweet upgrade! 35 kph, baby!

I got the faster one, naturally

Off-roading fun

The ZZ weekly shopping bus was the last transportation vehicle we have experienced here. On Saturday, Sias provides a bus for the foreign faculty to take into the populous capital city an hour away. There we were able to deplete our bank accounts at the Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Walmart, Ikea (!), and other Western shops.

Ben and I skipped the Sbux but hit the Walmart and Ikea pretty hard. We bought a number of things for our apartment: a blanket, pillows, picture frames, candles, and much more. Slowly our place is looking more and more like somebody actually lives there (but who that somebody is, we aren't quite sure yet....).
Chinese Walmart-- the people aren't as fat, but strangeness still abounds
The Walmart is very Chinesified with fresh sting rays and dried ducks in the deli section because of course in America they would be deep fried. Even their "Great Value" brand had items we've never heard of before like beef granules. [For an entertaining list of other Chinese Walmart items, click here. Ben really wanted to buy #16...seriously].

The ZZ Ikea was also a very different place but for another reason-- instead of being a giant, orderly, labyrinth-like warehouse, it was a tiny, crowed upstairs apartment...literally. The place was crammed with all things Swedish, which was a welcome departure from the flashy Chinese-style designs and fabrics. But sadly, the prices and the fact that it felt like we were in a Scandinavian hoarder's home made it difficult to shop.
The world's tiniest Ikea. How I miss Sweden!

Overall, we had a fun, productive day, but when the bus picked us up at 4 pm, we were beat. Usually my shopping-stamina doesn't last more than an hour or two, so this was quite strenuous to say the least. However, I do anticipate us taking advantage of the bus trip in the future; ZZ has a Home Depot, Metro (like a Costco), a bowling alley, and massive DVD store. But until our energy levels and bank account have recovered, we just might have more low-key weekends here.

That's all for now!


  1. Love reading your stories! Free work-outs, no commute, "ikea", fun adventures...sounds like your two are having fun! Out of all the items listed at Chinese WalMarts, #16 would be the only thing I would buy=)
    Love you!

  2. We are having lots of fun! Haha, i'll be sure to pick you up a couple packets at the Walmart for you next time ;) Love you lots, Mom!