You might be curious to know what living conditions are like in Beijing.
Our apartment here is about twice as big as the apartment we had in New York. It has all of the modern amenities that we have come to depend upon, albeit provided in a more frugal way. For example, hot water is provided by a small hot water heater on the kitchen counter, and a pump which pumps it to the hot water tap and shower in the bathroom; when you want to take a shower, you have to turn on the pump to get the hot water flowing, and afterwards, turn it off, otherwise the system will overflow when the toilet is flushed. And speaking of the shower, it's just a hand-held shower head on one of the walls of the bathroom - there is no shower enclosure and you basically stand in the middle of the bathroom to have your shower. A depression in the tile floor allows the water to flow to a drain underneath the sink. But it is perfectly functional and allows a hot shower every morning - you just have to get used to controlling your movements so as not to throw soap suds all over the bathroom.
We even have a clothes washer, a convenience that we sorely missed in NYC, but the drying is done the old fashioned way, by hanging the clothes to dry on the enclosed balcony.
From what we have learned, the living conditions for the Chinese here in Beijing vary considerably. Our apartment is probably representative of one made available to a person employed in a professional or scientific trade, and furthermore, it was apparently remodeled a year ago which is a luxury that only certain people here could probably afford. We know from first hand experience that there are many Chinese, of much lesser means, whose living conditions would most likely be considered apalling by American standards.
Here are some photos of our apartment:
Nancy in our kitchen in Beijing doing what she does best ...
This is what the water looks like after you boil it. Yuck! Looks like boiling in a teapot and only pouring off the top 3/4, leaving the sediment at the bottom, is our best bet ...
Nancy prepares our first meal in China.
The view from our bedroom window. Hazy and not too pretty.
This is the view from the 15th floor stairwell of our building.
Bryan relaxes in the living room in his jammies and $1.00 Chinese slippers.
This is our bedroom, looking from the doorway to the windows.
Another view of the bedroom, looking from the windows to the closet.
This is the computer room. We don't go in there, since we have our own laptops. We just keep our empty suitcases and stuff in there.
The kitchen. Small, but with just about everthing we need.
Nancy is napping on the living room couch.
They remodeled the apartment a year ago, which is why it looks so nice and modern and clean. I think that Gao Jie has very good taste as the stone behind the T.V. demonstrates.
The bathroom. They've managed to fit a washing machine in there, which you can't see from here. The shower is a hand-held unit on the wall, and with a slight indentation in the floor allowing water to run to a drain under the sink.
Bryan Ischo and Nancy Lau - 02.03.2001
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