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Moved into my Apartment in Xi’an China this weekend. (No fire escapes!)

04/10/2011

Work has really been keeping me busy.  I’m teaching “English Writing and Rhetoric” at Xi’an Jiaotong University.   My boss told me what I would be teaching, then more or less said “just go do it”, leaving me to design the class from the bottom up myself.  While it has been a lot of work, it has also been extremely rewarding.

I stayed at the Haunting Hotel for the first month while my apartment remodel was being completed.  This was no quick paint job.  The workers stripped the apartment down to the sub-flooring and began anew.  The results are really quite wonderful.  So let me give you a tour.

Let’s begin with the outside of the building.  As you can see it’s a bit rough.  That rustic exterior belies the beautifully done interior, however.

(Tip:  Clicking any photo will bring up a larger version.  Clicking that version will display maximum size.)

To enter "Apartment Village #1", turn into the complex at the "YinQuio Dairy", which is really just a little snack stand. Great for grabbing a couple of beers or candy bars on the way home.

The entry to my building is close to the west end structure.

As you can see, the outside of the building is a little "crusty", but don't let the exterior fool you... Inside is quite nice! I'm on the 5th floor. (The ground-floor is the 1st floor... like in the USA.)

And here is the front door leading up the stairs to my apartment on the 5th floor.

Now we step through the door... and head up the stairs. While it's temping to take it upon myself to clean up the stairway and make it look a bit nicer, I'd be concerned about "drawing attention" to myself and my posessions in the process... So I think I will just leave it as it is.

Now we are on the 5th floor, standing just outside my door. Note the door and frame is factory new. While I'm not crazy about dark woods, the mahogany is consistent with Chinese style… so I don’t mind. “When in Rome…”

So now we are on the inside, looking down the hallway toward the entryway door.

Let's take a look at my office first. Like the rest of the apartment, everything is new... including the flooring, desk, chair, drapes, wall surfacing, windows, etc.

With my back to the door going to my "Winter Garden" enclosed glass balcony, you can see the nice new bookshelf.

This gives you a perspective at the width of the balcony... At about 105 cm (3.5 ft.) across, it is not huge, but still large enough to put a small table and chairs for dining in the sunshine... even in the winter. One thing which is VERY disturbing, however, is that there are NO fire escapes on either the front or back of the building. To make matters worse, do you see the bars outside the window?... They completely block any possibility of escape from this backside of the building... Very troubling!

On to the bedroom now... The bed and (so called) mattress are new. I say “so called” because it is hard as a rock! That seems to be the norm here in China. I made it “sleep-able” by putting a 2 cm pad on it… I’m kind of getting used to it now. I'm certainly happy to sleep on something I know has not been used.

Of course, sleeping on a rock-hard bed has it’s advantages in terms of “training”…  as this photos shows:

Having trained for years on China's rock hard beds, this woman has no problem taking a nap at the recent Horticulture Exhibit.

But I digress…  Back to my apartment…

The armoire is new as well. Note the door to the right which leads to quite a large walk-in storage closet.

Now on to the living room. It's not huge, but is comfy. All the furniture is new. The small sofa reminds me of "modern" furnitue in the US, circa 1980.

The new TV isn't large... measuring about 60 cm diagonally (23.5 in.). The picture is crystal clear, however. I get only "The National Geographic" channel in English and occasionally an English soundtrack movie on other channels. But I can get my "Daily Show" fix on my computer where I can also access Hulu.com. I could watch Netflix movies... but am kind of boycotting them at the moment. I'm kind of missing "Der Checker" and "Die Ludolfs" in Germany.

The small bathroom sits right off the living room. I like that it too is new... top to bottom.

As you can see, the bathroom is really tiny by western standards... but that's just fine. The shower rains down on the sink. There's really not enough room to put up a shower curtain.

I do like the dual shower heads, however. The hot water comes fromt the tankless heater in the kitchen. (More about that later.) For now I'll just say the water can jump from very hot to ice cold in seconds. It just requres knowing how to use it, however.

Now... last but not least, let's take a look at the kitchen. It is "L-Shaped" with the table, fridge, and clothes washer coming first. The rest is in the "Winter Garden" enclosed glass balcony. With the exception of the fridge and washer, everything here is new as well. Even the two used appliances are almost new.

Looking back at the kitchen entryway now... The apartment entry door is just to the right out in the hallway. The new wooden table and chairs are nicely sized. They are not too small.

I really love the big tiles they used on the floor. They are about 60 cm (23.5 in.) on each side.

Here's the rest of the winter garden glass enclosed kitchen. It's actually extremely nice. As you can see the stove and range hood are "removable". That's really quite common her in China and in Europe as well. On the right is the on-demand water heater (no tank). It takes a little getting used to, as the water can jump from very hot to very cold in seconds. It just takes a little practice to time one's usage, however.

Well…  that’ my tour of my “new digs”.  I’m quite happy with how the remodeling job turned out. It’s really quite nice given the price of only €122 ($160) a month!

As I mentioned above, I find the lack of a fire escape anywhere on the building and the barred windows on the back side of the apartment to be extremely disturbing.  I’ve made an escape plan out of the front side of the apartment (out the kitchen windows), so at least I have a plan of some kind.  (I’ll be fine as long as a potential fire would not block that route.)  I’m also heading out to buy a length of climbing rope, into which I can tie a series of knots to use as grips as I lower myself down.  That’s really about all I can do at the moment.

I’ll be posting more entries from Xi’an soon…  Until then…  Zàijiàn!

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