Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Daily Life in Dalian

Pictures from daily life:

Here is a link to another captioned slideshow featuring twelve pictures of people and places we see around us in Dalian:

We get out into the city every day to do various errands and see what we can see. We walk down a little side street (Lanyu Jie) to the main road (Huanghe Lu) where we catch the bus to town. The buses run about every five minutes, the trip takes about 10 minutes from campus to city center, and the fare (paid with a simple swipe of our electronic ID cards) costs about 14 cents.

Susie has had incredible fun finding bargain essentials for our flat (coffee maker, tea pot, cookware, utensils, small appliances, radio, lamps, etc) as well as bargaining for some decorative items (houseplants, wall hangings, placemats) that have made our place truly our own.

We now have Internet access at the flat! We can send and read email, surf the web, and download movies right here at home. In fact, this blog post is coming to you from our living room, much to the dismay of the friendly baristas at Starbucks.

Water Works:

A few random notes on the theme of H2O (excluding our thoughts on the phenomenal Michael Phelps).

1. Tap water: It is simply undrinkable even for natives of Dalian. We have to boil our water or else buy it in stores. We also found a filter that takes out the yellowish color and metallic flavor. Susie and I performed a virtuoso two-party pantomime in the store to get the filter we needed. The audience of seven clerks was very patient and gave us a standing ovation when we completed the transaction. Next time we must remember to pass the hat among the onlookers.

2. Hot water: When we first moved in, we were baffled by the seemingly random availability of hot water in the flat. In fact, it is not random at all but on a strict and regular schedule. We get hot water from 7-9 AM and 7-10 PM daily, with an extra hour on Sunday evenings.

3. Cold water: Since we have a freezer and like cold drinks, we wanted to make ice. This is tricky business without an ice cube tray. Susie, resourceful as ever, devised a cheap and elegant solution. Eggs come in a carton like those in the USA except made out of clear plastic. Cut off the top, fill with (purified) water and voila!! Instant ice cube tray!

4. Sea water: The seafood section in the grocery store is not to be believed. There are strange but apparently edible critters of every description splashing around in tanks: live fish, live turtles, sea cucumbers, spiky anemones, cockles and mussles alive-alive-oh, fresh and salted seaweed, etc. Today, for instance, Susie brought home a bag of live prawns for us to boil (oh the humanity!) for dinner. Last time I was in the market I witnessed a mishap that I had never seen at the 14th Street Safeway. The man beside me dropped a bag of live eels onto the floor and they went skittering away live a dozen slithy toves. A crowd gathered to watch the show and offer free advice. The entertainment was stylish but short-lived, as the gentleman soon obtained a long plastic tube from an onlooker and used it to herd his dinner into its open end one by one before depositing them back into the bag and proceeding to the cashier.

5. Watered down paint: A team of painters has begun painting the walls of our stairwell. Susie triumphs once again! She befriended the workers, borrowed a pot of (watery) white paint and a brush, and painted the walls in our flat so the place looks all clean and bright. She borrowed a pair of pliers from the maintenance shop the other day to do some plumbing repairs, and she has also fixed the electrical cord on the vacuum cleaner used by the residents of our building. I think she will soon be invited to come out of retirement and take over as supervisor of facilities around here.