Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome to Chengdu

Wow!  We're in China!  For all of you who wish to share in our adventures, I will learn how to blog and post photos of some of our experiences here in Chengdu.

August 10, 2012 - 'Graduation Day'

   We received our certificates from Jeff Ringer, the Director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University, after 100 grueling hours of training.   BYU's motto is:  "Enter to Learn - Go Forth to Serve".  We are off to fulfill that creed.

August 25, 2012 - Mark drove us to the airport in Salt Lake City.  Our plane to LAX left at 7:45pm.  Can you believe we got everything into those 5 small suitcases?  Deciding what to take was hard.

Beijing Airport
We left LAX at 1:40a.m. and landed in Beijing at 5:40a.m. the next morning.  We had exit row seats so we got plenty of leg room!!  I took a sleeping pill and slept about 7 hours which made it so nice.  I had been dreading the 12-hour flight, but it really wasn't so bad.

We made it!!  We're in China!!  The lines for passport control, the train to baggage claim and the wait for baggage made us miss our connecting flight.  We went to several different counters to find our bags (that took over an hour to come down the carousel) and to reticket our flight to Chengdu.  No one around really spoke any English that we could find.  Fortunately, our traveling companions were Don & Marian from BYU, and he used to speak Mandarin on his mission.  We got it done and flew to Chengdu.  That was a 2-1/2 hour flight, and we couldn't see any countryside on the way--it was all clouded over.

The airport in Chengdu had this huge movie ad for The Transformers movie playing on big signs.  We knew we weren't too far from civilization--Hollywood is near!

I had read about the little 'split pants' for Chinese toddlers, used for toilet training.  This little guy was crawling around the airport terminal and showed us our first example.  They are pretty common here!
The Kitchen
Our apartment--we knew we were in for something small and foreign, but the kitchen was immediately daunting.  See the filthy cutting board hanging on the wall?  And those 2 shot glasses, 3 plates, 2 soup spoons, a rice cooker, a tea kettle and a nasty pan were all the dishes/utensils that were provided.  The square box in the corner is an ultraviolet dish sterilizer, but it has nasty junk spilled all over the bottom, so I don't even use it.  We did get a microwave, but no oven of any sort.  A small refrigerator is to the right of the sink.

The Dining Room

The Living Room

 This little table has four matching chairs, but we put two in another room.  The flat-screen TV is new and we can get two English-language channels:  CNN Asia, and The Discovery Channel Asia.  It's interesting to hear unbiased reports on the presidential campaign in America.

Our living room is small, and has a lumpy futon couch which needed to have the cover washed.  We went to IKEA (a full-day adventure) and bought the lamp because the overhead lighting is very dim and dark.  Our window faces west, so we get the light, and we also have a big, beautiful tree outside.

The sink is opposite the front door when you walk in the apartment.  We have had it repaired twice now, and hope that it will eventually stop leaking all over the floor, which, fortunately, is tiled underneath.  The toilet room is also the shower--note the showerhead conveniently located above the toilet paper receptacle.  We have to take the paper out so it doesn't get soaked.  We do have hot water, which only took a day or two to figure out how to work.  Paper is not allowed in the toilet, so you have to have a trash can nearby, but at least we have a "western" toilet and not a squat toilet like the rest of this world.  I am standing in the living room to take this shot, and the kitchen is to the right.  

The Laundry Room

Laundry is done in this small machine which holds about half what a typical American washer will hold.  It only takes cold water, but at least they have Tide detergent so the clothes can get clean.  You can see shirts hanging from the ceiling to dry.  You take a long bamboo pole and lift the shirt up to the rod.  Most Chinese hang their clothes out the window or on a balcony.  I'm sure people lose things often when they blow away and fall down.  This room is off the kitchen and has a separate door to close it off.

 Looking from the window in the bedroom towards the door, you can see the bed, the wardrobe, the bedroom door, the wall with the sink behind it and the door to the toilet room.
Our bedroom has a VERY hard mattress (which looks/feels like a box spring mattress).  We got an extra foam mattress about 3" thick from IKEA, but it's still not too soft.  The little alcove is where we put the dresser/mirror and the windows go from wall to wall.  The air conditioner above the bed is broken--it will blow air, but it's not cool.  Chengdu is extremely humid so it feels hot to us Arizonans.

The last room of our apartment is an office with a desk, small futon 'love seat', and an armoire where we are putting our teaching supplies.  It has a window kitty-corner to the laundry room window where we can look out onto the courtyard of our housing area.  There are several high-rises in our enclosed, gated 'community' and three large houses where the "National Treasures" live.  The National Treasures are retired professors and leaders of the university who are allowed to live out their lives here.  This complex houses teachers and families of university employees.  Our building is 6 stories high with 3 apartments per floor and has all the foreigners.  We have teachers from America, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and Portugal.  They have been very helpful in welcoming us and showing us our way around.  Some have been here for several years.  Don & Marian live directly across the hall and we feel like we're in the dorms in college--we're always running over to talk or make plans to go out.  Although much different from anywhere we've lived before, Kirk said it reminds him of the song from Annie--"I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here"!


  1. I love it! Pictures are great and the stories priceless! I'm going to tell my daughters-in-law about the crotchless potty training pants. You guys are in for an adventure and it's already started. I'm so glad you have lots of friends and support. Keep those blogs coming!

  2. What an amazing adventure you have in store. Your blog is great... we can live vicariously now! :) Miss you, but so excited for your time there!

  3. Hey Cousin, Thank you so much for the update. Love your blog and the pics and stories... what a fantastic adventure!

  4. Keep it coming! Great to see what's going on.

  5. Sounds that you are having a great time in a city of adaventure.

    Where in the city is your apartment? I have found Chengdu and can see the city on google world. Was just wanting the address to see the area. Did you feel the earth quake yesterday 9-7-12? It was south of Chengdu in Yiliang. The pictures are awesome and let us in to see what's going on. 看你以后 (Be safe and happy)

  6. Didn't feel the earthquake, but it was in the next province south of us. Yikes! I'll add a photo I sent the kids of the google earth map showing where we live. Check it out. I'm not even sure I have the right address, but in English it is supposedly: 17 Dong 1 Danyuan 5 Hao (5 Hao means apartment 5, and Dong means east, but the street sign out front doesn't say Danyuan!)