Our Move to the Beijing 'Burbs

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Sorry for not posting last week. We finally moved from our temp housing downtown to the suburb of Shunyi. This was really a multi-part process. On Thursday the week before the movers took our things from the apartment; this was the stuff we carried on the plane, our air shipment, and the few things we had bought to date. Then, on Friday, we received our sea shipment with our furniture and the balance of our stuff. We were excited by the prospect of finally having all of our things in one place.

Unfortunately, our new house was not ready to move into. There were still workmen inside patching up a few things, the place was very dusty and dirty (with sand and bugs in our bathtubs for instance), and (as we discovered later) many systems not ready for prime time.

As we started cleaning and unpacking, we had to debug these systems one-by-one: getting the heat turned on in every room, getting hot water to come on in the master shower, turning on the dishwasher, and so on. Pretty much each of these problems involved one or more visits from our neighborhood maintenance staff. Thank goodness for these guys. I can't think of a analogy in an American neighborhood; I suppose it's more like the kind of thing you might have in an apartment. You call the office with a problem and sometime that day, the guys come over and try to fix your problem. They were largely successful despite my weak Chinese explanations; I hope I understood their responses too...

Now, a week later we have most systems working pretty well, and we're liking the house a lot (this was not the case during some parts of the past week). The biggest remaining issue is that the phone and CAT-5 wiring in the house is messed up in many locations. I had beat my head against the wall until two or three in the morning trying to get the network working one night; when the maintenance guys came over, they found a bunch of the jacks were miswired and others were not passing any signal at all. I've got wireless working on the first floor now and have bridged to another wireless adapter on the second floor (although this is a slow/spotty connection). It will take some more doing to get this last part fixed.

In the US, I doubt the house would have passed the bank inspection, but I understand this level of construction quality is normal in China. It seems like people settle for "good enough" quickly here; even the maintenance guys seemed confused why I wanted more heat in the house, implying that I was expecting too much to be in short sleeves in my house in January. This is somewhat understandable I suppose since the house is so much nicer than how 99.99% of the country lives, but it will still take some getting used to.

I'll post some photos soon...

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