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Home, sweet home


I told you in my last blog that where I was living rather resembled a hotel in some respects, especially the rooms, which were designed exactly along those lines. I thought it curious at the time, but this next place has gone one better.

The Agricultural University has a reception downstairs, with the clocks showing different times round the world.

Upstairs, where my apartment is, there is the typical old style hotel furniture with the old-fashioned bedside table with its switches that control different lights and a phone that dials downstairs. The bedroom is south facing and has a small concrete balcony, albeit one that overlooks hoards of passing students who can wave at you. In due course I'll get a clothes horse and dry clothes on it because it catches the sun nicely.

The kitchen is north facing and overlooks a nice landscaped garden the students can canoodle in on the left and a rather tatty yard with some rubbish in it on the right. The Hohhot mountains are two- not more than three miles- directly ahead. They stretch all the way down to Jin Shan, where I was before, 20 miles to the West, and beyond.

Initially, two antiquey chairs were arranged on either side of a round side table in the lounge with a tray with two cups and they had put the dining table in there and that was all. No sofa or comfy arm chairs.

In the bathroom were the usual freebies: comb, shampoo, body wash etc in little packets with the 'hotel' name on. With the exception of the kitchen and bathroom, the apartment is carpeted.

I initially thought that because this was a one bedroom place it was my smallest apartment yet but all told I think all my apartments in China have been about the same size. It's just that they all carve up the floor space differently.

The partitioning of this place in particular would be strongly criticized on one of those numerous property programmes we have in the UK. This is because there is a a lot of dead space in the bathroom and kitchen- which are both maybe twice the size they need to be- and a tiny lounge.

Nonetheless, I've set about trying to make it home. I've bought a very nice new sofa that splits in two and lined the large mantel shelf that tops the radiators with my books. I've moved the dining table into kitchen, which is L shaped, and feels almost like two rooms.

The bulky tube television has been moved from the corner of the bedroom to opposite the sofa in the lounge. And I've taken a lamp out of the bedroom and put it in the corner of the lounge, because the strip ceiling lighting was casting an awfully harsh colour.

My rugs are down, pictures going up and a clock here, a clock there. Some finishing touches are afoot.

It isn't all apartments. They've designated some of the rooms as offices. The foreign affairs office is downstairs opposite reception, the director's office is on the second floor and the Dean's office is right opposite my front door on the third floor (British second).

I'm told that an American girl lives above me and his married to a Chinese man who doesn't like her to associate with other Westerners. I haven't seen her but I think I've seen him and I've heard the child.

I believe a teacher from the Philippines (teaches English) lives above them. I met him briefly a few weeks ago but have not seen him since.

There is another male teacher, married and in his early fifties, but he lives elsewhere.

At the medical university we were locked in at 10.30 but they often got slack and left the door unlocked all night, especially during the holidays. Here, I don't think there's any possibility of that. They have women on duty all day downstairs and at night they're ready to lock the doors. If I go out in the evening they ask me if I'm going to be back and at 10.20 the metal lattice that covers the doors has already been partially closed.

Posted by safemouse 03:28 Archived in China

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Small idea for Fawlty Towers plot: Basil gets so cheesed off with the libidinous comings and goings of his immoral guests that he too imposes a 10.30 curfew...with hilarious consequences?

by baby_james

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