Thursday, August 27, 2015

What its REALLY like to live in China...

I will try to sum up "china living" in one blog post. Here goes nothing...

When I go home for a visit, I always get asked the same questions. 
Where do you eat? 
Do you speak any Chinese? 
How do you get around? 
Well, I cook a lot of the same things we eat in America but the ingredients are imported so they are usually pretty expensive. Samantha probably speaks more Chinese than I do, but I learn enough to get by. I get around through good old public transportation. 
But lets not get ahead of ourselves...It's more entertaining to show you some pictures. 

There is literally a market here for anything you can imagine. To name a few; The craft market, the jewelry market, the flower market, the fabric market, the electronics market, the antique market, the textile market, the kids clothing market, the fake market... I am not even joking. A market of knockoffs. 

The textile market. My friend took me here once because I was looking for curtains. They can make you custom pillows, bedspreads, tablecloths, napkins, etc. It was pretty amazing.

This is the Chinese antique market, but my friends and I refer to it as the junkyard. It is pretty incredible and definitely a scavenger hunt. My friends have found some great finds here. You just have to pick through all the Mao statues to find something good. 

This is the children's market. One time my friend and I spotted some stickers here that read "Future Ho". The Chinese really need people to proof read their material. 

The pet market is definitely a must-see. Actually, I should say, a must-smell because this place smells like straight up cat urine on top of bird poop. Here you can buy goldfish, birds, crickets, beetles, mice, etc. You can also watch old men train and fight their crickets against each other. You read that right. 

This actually wasn't a legit market but someone thought it would be good to set up a Swavorski knock-off shop on the floor of the subway exit. I texted a picture to my sister, she replied, "You are so lucky!" I should have texted her the squid on a stick. 

While we are on the subject of shopping, lets talk about groceries. When we first moved here it was my biggest worry because I had no idea what I would feed my family. After a few months here I began to get my routine and find out where I could get everything. I have finally whittled myself down to about 6 stores where I get my essentials. Yes, I have to go to 6 stores to get my basics. I daydream about the days where I could go to Target and literally get everything on my list in one stop. 

But don't worry guys, every store will always have an aisle of soy sauce. 

And theres fish-a-plenty here in China! But some places they have for it. As in...its in a bowl still flapping its fin. At least you know its fresh? 

Speaking of fresh food. One of my absolute favorite things about living in China is the produce. It is free of preservatives and is the freshest stuff you have ever eaten. I go to a place called "the wet market" to buy my produce and this stuff is so fresh that it still has dirt on it. The produce here is the best tasting stuff in the world. So much flavor! I will miss it when we move back home. The only downside is that its SO fresh and lacking preservatives that it goes bad fast. Like, these people go to the wet market every day to buy the stuff that was picked from the fields last night. 

You can also buy fish at the wet market, but I don't recommend that. Side note: there are not sanitation rules in China. But, thats obvious, right? 

And every once in awhile you will buy peaches from the back of a van. No big deal. 

Food is a touchy subject for us Americans living in China. The food that we usually eat is either non-existent here, or we need to sell our left kidney to buy a safe slab of steak. This is why when we go to visit America, we STOCK. UP. Things we always make sure to bring are red meat, butter and cheese. Dairy is very expensive here. If we could bring ice cream, we would! We always freeze it solid, wrap it really good in aluminum foil and maybe a towel and then pack it in our checked bag. Under the plane is freezing so it always stays cold. This last time when we got home (14 hour flight) our meat was still frozen solid. Buhlers for the win! 

Our other stock up items include parmesan cheese, candy, cake mix, jam, toddler pouches & cheeze-its. You really have no idea what you crave until you move far away and don't have access to these comfort foods. Don't even get me started on my pregnancy cravings. I would have sold my soul for a Taco Bell at one point. 

And, lets not mention the 4 Costco sized bags of chocolate chips in my cupboard. 

We also stock up on toiletries. Let me tell you, Chinese people don't believe in Excedrin or cough syrup. They believe in herbs and tea to cure everything. Well, I support Western medicine and have got us covered if anyone in all of China gets the flu. Seriously, this trunk is as big as a CVS. One day we may or may not suffer from extreme diarrhea so I also have drugs to cure that. JUST. IN. CASE.! You guys may laugh, but you have to be prepared if you live in China. For instance, let me show you their tampon option. Don't gt me started... 

And with all of the different stores that I have to go to, where do I put everything!? I am not sure if I would survive living in China without my stroller. Not having a car to put everything in it means that I have to load up. I don't even need Samantha. This is my car. 

Just kidding, you guys. I have a car. Some people call it a bike. 

Relying on public transportation is super fun. I love taking taxis and the subway everywhere. (No sarcasm, at ALL!)

The good thing is that the subway system here is super efficient and there are many stops all over the place. You know what there ISN'T? Ramps. You know, for my stroller. Yeah, there aren't any. Which means if we are taking Samantha anywhere in the stroller she is being treated like Queen Sheeba in her throne while Peyton and I lug her down the million stairs to get to the train.

Samantha can even hail her own taxi these days! We really should let her explore this city on her own more often. 

...Which is why if you own a child in China you must also own a baby carrier. I don't think we would have survived without one of these things! Good thing she loves it! 

The other thing you must know before moving to China with little children is that you will become the local celebrity. People will come from afar to see your American child, and there is nothing you can do about it. You have to remember, this is not diverse America. I could go all week without seeing another white person. Seeing a baby with blonde hair and blue eyes is practically like setting eyes on an unicorn. Sorry, Samantha. You were doomed from the beginning. 

I think I need to let you in on a little cultural activity that is rather around 1:00 after everyone has eaten their lunch the Chinese people get very tired. So tired, in fact, that everyone takes a nap. People pull over to put their feet up, roll their windows down and sleep. Ikea is full of people staking claims on the beds and couches for their afternoon siesta. I really don't understand why they are SO tired. Like, what did you do last night that makes you literally not be able to make it home on your scooter?  

The Chinese nap is so common that Peyton tells me people at his work will go to their desk at lunchtime, lay their head down and get some shut eye. And this is NOT weird here. At least not to anyone but me. 

Friends in America ask how many people live in China. Let me tell you, there are 1,000,001 people that live on my street alone. In America you can drive down the road and not see another person. In China, 153 people will bump into you before you even walk a block.

When you are so far away from family in America you make friends that will become like family. These are the people that you will have playdates with, go grocery shopping with, lunch, date nights, and celebrate holidays together. They will make living here enjoyable and you will become very close. I personally know that I could not go through this without these amazing people I have met here. 

I know this was a somewhat humorous post about the China lifestyle but, in all seriousness I have loved our time here so far and we have grown and learned tons. It is such a crazy experience and not for the weak! I know one thing for sure, when we do move back to America we will definitely call this an adventure!