Monday, August 30, 2010

Taxi Taxi

When I came to Chengdu I expected the worst out of its Taxi drivers. After serving in Beijing, where the taxi drivers often did not know where they were going, I had no hope that the drivers of the smaller more provincial capital would be any good whatsoever. I have been pleasantly surprised. From what I understand, Taxi drivers here are locals. You must be a Chengdu resident to drive a cab. This is fantastic! I have only had very few instances getting into a cab where I have told a driver where to go and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. And usually if I can give a good land mark they can get me pretty close. Why is this unusual, you might ask, well Beijing drivers often were not from Beijing. Chances were they got into the city the week before and were now driving cabs all over the place. Often I'd get into a cab, tell them where to go, and they'd start driving. A few minutes into the ride I'd realize we were going the wrong way and I'd ask them where they were going and they literally had no clue!
I also don't have that problem of getting into a cab and having that frustrating, I want to go to Yashow! Yashow? YAshow! Yashow? yaSHOW! yashow? YASHOW! oh Yashow! Chengdu people seem to have a better time with foreigners speaking Chinese than they did in Beijing. I only have to repeat myself once, and generally I do not get that Look the animal is speaking stare. People seem nice and generally want to help.
The only problem is that Taxis are hard to find. Some people say they are too cheap so drivers can afford to pick and choose who to pick up because everyone can ride. And often it's not just me who can't get into a cab. There are lines of people along the street trying to get a cab to stop. Some days it's next to impossible to get one.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fighting the hordes

Before I got to China this time I *promised* myself that I would try to contain my China rage (like road rage, but directed towards Chinese people instead of drivers). The last time we came, I spent an absurd amount of time on a one man (well woman) battle to change the way Chinese people do things. For instance, instead of joining the crazy mob of people waiting to get serviced at a counter, I would line up and then grumble loudly at the people who were cutting in front of me. Or, when walking on a side walk I refused to move when honked at by a car trying to park. This time, I said to myself, over and over and over, I would try to do things the Chinese way. Sort of go with the flow instead of swimming upstream.
But it's hard. We've been here about a month and already I've broken my rule any number of times. I've walked slowly in front of black Audis driving on the sidewalk, I've grumbled loudly about my place in the grocery weighing lines, and I've stared aghast at women letting their babies poop on the floors of stores.
I am getting better though, these instances do not work up my blood, I am not super angry for minutes after, I fight through and move on. I've even gotten to the pushing and shoving point, I mean, what good is it to be larger than everyone else if you can't use your size to make people get out of your way? I try to keep it within acceptable levels, though, I move to the end of the crowd, but I will defend my position in the mob with elbows and hips. And, I am ashamed to say, I stole a cab from a guy yesterday (I got fed up after five people took cabs in front of me after coming out of no where) he was hot (I still feel bad about it). Hopefully I don't get too caught up in all this, and I will be able to go back to the civilized world one day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Chengdu!

So we have made it to Chengdu. It feels like we've been "going to Chengdu" forever and a day, and it feels weird to have actually made it. We didn't get to come directly here so we did arrive here in the middle of the night (or so it felt) with our traveling circus all jet lagged, but to be honest the flight wasn't that bad, nor was the jet lag any worse than going anywhere else.
Chengdu is a bit of a gray city. I can't tell if it's cloudy all the time, if it's pollution, or what. I think it might be a little of everything because I haven't lived in a place this thunderstormy (yes I just created an adjective) since Texas. Since we've been here there has been a thunderstorm on average every third day. Which is good, because Chengdu is pretty green (compared to Beijing, not Taipei) and I think it's cleaner than it would be if there was not so much rain. The people here are friendlier than Beijingers so you will see smiles on faces (sometimes, though not a lot) and they generally make an effort to understand what you are trying to tell them. I have not gotten that LOOK the animal is talking look here at all.
Our housing is pretty nice, we are in a great/pretty central location. There are three expat restaurants within walking distance of us and a cornucopia of local restaurants as well. We are not too far from several big shopping centers and we can get to the Carrefore and Auschan (European supermarkets) with a short cab ride. There is also an Ikea really close and several Ito Yokado's that we can get to.
On the whole I think the city is going to be a good place to be for two years. DH can walk to work, and there seems to be a pretty active community of spouses so that Babes and I can get out and about without going stir crazy.
More soon when it stops raining everyday. We've been trying to go on an adventure for over a week!