Thursday, March 31, 2011

Our Life Savers

Apples. Who knew they would be so valuable in our family. Apples first began as a healthy snack that we especially love with peanut butter and chocolate, to now a means of showing frustration and actually providing peace. Gavin has been very adamant about eating an apple a day. He strongly believes in the quote from Benjamin Franklin, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away.” For years he has insisted that everyone of us eat an apple a day. Whenever someone begins to get a cold he says “it is because they haven’t been eating apples“. Apples cure just about everything in our family. We have seen the results of a healthy family with very few cases of the flu or common colds. But who knew that apples would also become a means of getting people’s attention and stopping a whole construction site to complete silence. As many of you know, we are living right smack in the middle of a construction zone which has been operating non stop. This has become quite irritating in that we rarely have a moment of peace around our house. Sleep has become a rarity which is having a huge affect on my happiness. Apples have become our way of sending a message of our annoyance of the noise and inconsiderate people who continue to feel it is necessary to keep us awake night after night. Last night the large trucks were at work again being loading by noisy machinery dumping concrete and debris into the trucks to haul away. This was going on all night again along with the constant sound of the drill or some other noisy machinery. At 3:00 in the morning as the trucks were driving out of the site, one honked. That was the turning point. People honk all the time here for no good reason. It really is annoying and then to have the trucks start to honk as they drove away on top of all the other noise for no apparent reason but to annoy us, sent Gavin over the edge. Out came the bowl of apples. He went up on the roof and starting throwing them at the trucks. Of course, they stopped and got out which started a yelling match with neither party understanding the other because they were yelling in Chinese and Gavin in English. He had enough of this lack of consideration for others. We have a family trying to sleep and they feel it necessary to continue working all night long keeping us up and then the honking. Really? Is that necessary? Well, Gavin grabbed his bike and took off to finally confront them. I was really nervous because he was all alone and there were quite a few of them out there. Who knew what would happen but what happens next is just too funny. The guys in the truck just stood there for a few minutes after Gavin stopped yelling and jumped on his bike. They were looking around like what do we do? Where did he go? They finally got in their truck and drove a few meters down the dirt road towards the main road and stopped. The passenger got out of his truck to fill out some paperwork. The driver was apparently in the truck looking in his mirrors because when he saw Gavin racing towards them from behind on his bike, he quickly started to drive off. The other guy not knowing what was going on ran “like a bunny” as Gavin explains it and jumped back in the truck while it was driving away. They literally were afraid of a guy on a bike and wanted to get the heck out of there. They couldn’t go very fast because of the dirt road so Gavin was able to keep up with them. When they got on the main road, they sped up; but Gavin kept going because he figured they would have to slow down to turn eventually. The main road only lasted about a ½ a mile until it veered sharply to the right so Gavin kept them in site but they didn’t slow down enough for Gavin to catch up but he was still in visual site. He kept going because he knew that there was a stop light a few hundred yards ahead after they turned where they would have to either turn right or left but that didn’t stop them either. The light was red and they just swerved around the other trucks and turned from the other lane. Remember it is 3:00 a.m. so there wasn’t much traffic but driving in the other lane here is a typical thing. Gavin knew that there was another light only a short distance away so again he kept going on his bike. The light was red which didn’t stop them. They barreled right on through the light. The chase continued for a few more minutes through town until Gavin finally just turned around and came back when he realized that they were not going to let him catch up. Quite the funny picture. A huge truck with two men trying to run away from a foreigner on a bike pedaling as fast as he could. Crazy. The crazy thing is, they completely shut down the construction after that for the night. We had a few hours of peace and quiet during the night but we were so wound up, we couldn’t enjoy it and actually sleep. Would you have ever thought that apples could stop an entire construction site? They truly are our life savers. Not only physically but now mentally by providing both an outlet of frustration by throwing them and then actually stopping the noise, even if it was for just a few hours. Of course the noise continues. It is almost 9:30 at night and we are again being serenaded by the squeaky drill, the jack hammers, the trucks, the bull dozers, and whatever else it is that is making noise out there. Good thing we have a huge stash of apples ready and on call if someone dares to honk there horn tonight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Progress YES!!!! Inconvenience NO!!!!

Here it is 5:00 in the morning and I've not being able to sleep due to all the construction noise behind us. I've been laying in bed for hours hoping to fall asleep but with the constant sound of a large drill squeaking and pounding the earth, that's not going to happen. On top of the noise, I've also been brewing about an anonymous comment made on my post about the construction here in Shekou. I was pretty pissed off because this person made a comment about how in this country all the construction is called progress and that the foreigners here don't want to see the Chinese people progress. They stated that the foreigners all want the Chinese people to continue being poor and living in their poor houses. THAT IS ABSURD!!!!! Are you serious? You think we are so racist that we would want to see a society not progress and continue living in a poor state? That really pissed me off!

The purpose of my post was to inform our family and friends what our life has become here in China. We have lived here for three years and have seen quite a lot of change which is great, but the annoying part is the lack of consideration for others and how their actions effect others. When we first lived here we had to endure the subway construction and constant blasting behind our first home. We moved after that first year to what we thought was a quieter place and it was until a few months ago when all the construction started. We literally live right in the middle of all the construction in Seaworld. What used to be a pleasant quiet view of the ship and driving range out our bedroom and living room windows, has been replaced with a warzone. Every night we are "serenaded" with the sounds of heavy machinery (like the drill that is keeping me awake tonight), trucks driving in and out being loaded with all the debris, and just noise. It all is within meters of our home. This goes on all night long and I mean ALL NIGHT. The other night along with the trucks and drill, they started destroying a small guard shack right out our window with a jack hammer at midnight. It wasn't just a small hand jack hammer, it was a large jack hammer attached to a caterpillar bull dozer. No consideration for the people trying to sleep only meters away. Like I said this was only meters away from our bedroom balcony. They were so close that we were able to yell at them to where they could hear. Gavin, Jonny, Rachel, and Saren went up on our roof and starting throwing apples at them to get their attention to let them know that there are people trying to sleep here. It was midnight and they felt it was ok to wake everyone up so that they could tear down a small building. That couldn't wait until the next morning? That's the type of inconsideration of others that is really annoying. They are so focused on getting their job done that they don't think of others. I don't mind the working seven days a week for long hours but not at 4:00 in the morning.

Yes I want to see progress but not at the expense of safety for others. Unlike many foreigners here, we don't have a personal driver at our beckon call to drive us where we want to go or a car, so we have to walk everywhere. The pictures I posted were to show what I have had to walk through with my six year old daughter to get to school that is only a few blocks away from our home. It is extremely unsafe and again, no consideration of others. No safety precautions taken to ensure the safety of people who have to get around it. The open trenches, piles of bricks, dirt, machinery was not a safe environment for anyone let alone children. Instead of thinking of others and providing an alternative route, they expect us to either just walk over the open trenches and debris or out into a busy street with traffic. We have had several kids at school who have been hurt just walking along the sidewalk trying to get to school. I personally have fallen several feet through a thin piece of plywood placed over an open hole. My entire leg fell into the hole up to my thigh. I was very lucky that I only walked away with a bruise and scratch. No consideration for the safety of others, that's my complaint.

I probably wouldn't be so upset if I lived in the plush Jing Shen houses, Coastal Rose, or Peninsula apartments, but we don't. Our school won't pay for those places so I'm stuck right in the middle of construction with inconsiderate people and have to walk and live in an unsafe environment.

Progress is great. Of course I want to see this society excel and yes it will look nicer when completed but it doesn't have to be at the expense of people's safety and health (such as the lack of sleep).

He also said that the foreigners want everything perfect with their maids and easy living. Obviously this person does not know me at all. I would happily give up my Ayi if I had another option for daycare for my daughter. My husband and I both work long hours and need someone to pick up our six year old daughter from school everyday. If I didn't need that service, I would probably not have a maid at all. She is a very nice reliable person but I could easily do without poor laundry and cleaning skills. No matter how many times I have tried to explain not to soak our socks in bleach, she continues to do so to the point that the elastic is ruined and my socks are now twice the original size. She once used so much bleach on a pair of my white pants that they literally fell apart and disintegrated while I was wearing them at work. Fortunately it was only at my knees. That would have been rather embarrassing to have my pants fall apart in other areas. She insists on using tons of bleach in our laundry and has ruined numerous items of clothing but won't use bleach to clean the mold out of our showers. The numerous complaints from my husband about his basketball shirts smelling like poo because our Ayi doesn't use enough soap in the laundry are easily things I could give up, but like I said she does provide a service of caring for our daughter which is the main reason we have kept her around.

and the easy living? Where is that? My life here is way more difficult than back in the states. Maybe some foreigners enjoy the easy life but not us. I have to shop everyday to keep just a small amount of food in our house for my family and without a driver or car, I have to physically carry it home. This has totally messed up my shoulder again by having to carry large bags of groceries home everyday. And the hassle to get anything done here can make a normal person crazy. Just the simple task of trying to buy decent shampoo and conditioner becomes a two hour ordeal with either riding a public bus or taking a taxi to Walmart. The other day Gavin and I were trying to purchase Ipads for prizes for the school science fair. What would have been maybe an hour task back home, if even that because we could have ordered them online and had them delivered to our house, was a whole day of endless hassles here. We left our home at 10:30 in the morning to go to Hong Kong. Three hours later after having to take a taxi and wait in lines to cross the border for an hour and half then sitting on a bus for another hour, we finally made it to an electronics store in the mall to only find out that they were sold out of the ones we wanted. We checked several other places, and they were all sold out. Eight hours later we returned home empty handed. Everything here is a hassle. Easy living? NOT!!!!!!

I blog to inform my family and friends about our life here in China and I don't appreciate ignorant anonymous comments, so please unless you really know me and our situation and have something positive and kind to say, keep your comments to yourself.

It is now 6:00 in the morning and I have to start another day with little or no sleep due to the lack of consideration of others. I have every right to be pissed off and upset. No sleep makes a very bitter and angry me. Look out world because this seems to be my life for the next few months and I'm not going to be happy about it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Flesh eating fish

Would you be brave enough to put your legs into a pool of little fish that eat your flesh? Yesterday we had a day off and Gavin took the kids to a spa here in Shenzhen with all types of different pools. From super hot to freezing cold. This pool has little fish that would eat the dead skin off your legs and feet. Gavin said it was the most stressful thing he has ever experienced in his life.
Just look at their faces...extreme discomfort

I guess Gavin had a lot of skin to eat because these little fish were chowing down.
The minute your feet get near the water they are ready.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just stuff....

We may not have Trader Joe's but we have something even better...Trader Zhou's. This is so typical of China. They hear about something that is cool in other parts of the world and slap the name on a business here. This is nothing like Trader Joe's but somebody thought the name was cool.

Our little Niki is playing basketball on the Middle School team as a ten year old. She is the only 10 year old and played the most out of all the other girls in their first game. She was quite the point guard and I'm not saying that because I'm her mother, but she really was awesome. She definitely takes after her father.
Vika had a modeling job in a commercial last week and the only thing she wanted with her money were these two wigs. We had to go to Hong Kong today for another doctor's appointment about the wart on her foot and right next to the building is a street full of costume vendors so we got these two wigs. It's quite the fun place to walk through with all the costumes. As soon as we got home they had to put them on and actually went out to dinner with them on. It was Taco Tuesday at the Mexican restaurant in Sea World so Niki and Vika really made it a fiesta in their colorful wigs.

The red wig is to go with Vika's Little Mermaid costume she got a few weeks ago from the costume alley. She is all set for next Halloween. I have to say the wigs are kind of fun.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vika's Three Day Birthday

Vika's sixth birthday was March 14 but we started the celebration on Saturday March 12 with her first time ice skating.
She was so excited to be an ice skater.
It only took a few times around the rink with Gavin and then she was ready to try on her own hanging onto the side. She was brave a few times and let go of the side to get around other people but mostly stuck to the side for the rest of the time.

After skating we went out to dinner to Ex-ta-sea. Yes, that is the name of the restaurant. It is in the ship near our house and has the best Western food in Shekou. These are little mini burgers that are the perfect size for Vika.
The Galicia's gave Vike this dancing donkey that was hilarious. Vika couldn't stop playing with it.
The restaurant has pool tables which Vika had fun playing with the chalk. Can you tell? She was covered with chalk from head to toe.
It wouldn't be a party with Blair. Yes, the restaurant is also a bar so Vika can say that her parents took her to her first bar when she was 6. We are such bad parents but we don't have much of a choice here.
On Monday, her real birthday, I was able to take cupcakes to her classroom to share with her class.

That evening Gavin and I took Vika to have her first hair wash. She was quite the princess and was very pampered.

It's not only a hair wash but a body massage. I'm really going to miss these when we leave.
After the hair wash they blow dry your hair.
Here she is.....the little princess after her spa treatment.
We then went home for cake and presents.

The happy little birthday girl with her "real" Barbie. She has gotten so many fake barbies here that it was a real treat to get a "real" one.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The New Seaworld in Shekou

This is the plans for the "new" Seaworld Plaza near our house. It looks amazing but knowing how things get done around here, it probably won't look nearly as nice as this. It is going to take over a year for completion which we won't get to see but unfortunately we have to live through all the construction right now. There are plans to build high rises and malls all around us. This place will look totally different in a few years.

I thought I would give a tour of what it is like when we walk to school every morning. It's like walking through an obstacle course. This is a shot near McDonald's in Seaworld. China doesn't seem to care about the safety of people much because this is all right where people walk in and out of the restaurants. We actually have to walk under the scaffolding and who knows what can fall down on you.
This area used to be a fun hang out for the kids. It was an open plaza where you could rollerblade, skateboard, ride bikes, or just sit on the benches and people watch. Not really the fun place anymore which means there isn't much for the kids to do on the weekends. Again, this is on our way to school and only a few blocks from our house.
All the sidewalks and roads are torn up as you can see. All along our way there are open trenches, holes, and just debris everywhere.

Just about everything is done the hard way with manual labor. It's a little funny to see these Chinese men working in street clothes. I've even seen some with suit jackets and dress shoes digging trenches.
The every annoying jackhammer is a constant background noise to our lives here.
This is right in front of the Middle School and Upper Elementary building. Like I said it is construction everywhere.
Looking out my classroom window is a beautiful shot of cranes. I used to love my view because it was of the bay and was actually a pleasant backdrop, but that will change since they are building one of the tallest buildings in Shekou here.
Right in the middle of all this construction is actually a tent where some of the workers live. Not a place I would want to sleep.
War zone? Earthquake? NO...Construction! This was once restaurants, shops, and a plaza in front of the ship.

These are shots from our bedroom window. Just proof of how close the construction is to us.
Another tent for the workers out on what was once the driving range. I think this is the Kitchen or "mess hall".

All this construction has driven us crazy. It really isn't a safe place to walk anymore. Last night we were coming out of a restaurant in the ship near all the construction. The board walk in front of the ship is being taken out with loose boards everywhere. As we were walking to the ship I mentioned how unsafe all this was now and of course as we walk out after dinner I stepped on a board covering a hole that broke under my foot. My right leg fell in a hole all the way up to my thigh. The board they used to cover this hole was a very thin piece of plywood that just cracked under my foot. Fortunately I'm ok but I was one mad puppy. Who would think that a thin piece of plywood would be safe to cover a three foot hole? CRAZY!