Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

apartment hunting

The first day after our arrival we went apartment hunting. The exchange rate has changed so prices are higher now. We did find a few that were acceptable. Most were not.

There are so many things to consider when determining where you'll settle down in China.

Some considerations are obvious like: Is it close to the school? Is there public transportation nearby? Does it have a western toilet? What is the view out the main window?

And some are not so obvious such as: Can the fridge fit in the kitchen? Does the shower water flow toward the drain? Which way does the sun enter the apartment in the winter?

The last consideration is important as there is no heat in any of the apartments in China. You have to provide your own heating units.

I know you think I'm exaggerating here, and I wish I were.

For example, always there is the issue of the incorrect sloping bathroom floor. Since there is no shower stall this is an important consideration. For some reason most of the floors incline toward the toilet even though there is a drain right under the shower head.

I believe this is because most China apartments are designed for, well, Asians. They use the squat toilet as the single drain for the bathroom floor. Now though, more western toilets are installed in the apartments. But no one has discovered that it is now necessary to slope the floors away from them. Most of our friends have to install a channel or rail to keep the water in the shower area. Then, after each shower, they use a squeegee to pull all the water toward the drain under the shower head.

I think the most ridiculous configuration we saw was in one apartment's kitchen. It was perfect in every way except . . . the washing machine would have to be placed in the kitchen, next to the counter, where the only water hookup was. The tiny floor space would not then allow a fridge. So the fridge would have to be placed in the living room. But then again, that's not so bad. At least the beer would be closer to the couch.

We did find an apartment that was great. It faced a courtyard of trees, flowers, and fountains. It was very big. It had a beautiful private courtyard in which we could set up plants and a little vegetable garden. Even the bathroom had perfectly correct sloping floors. And the kitchen could contain a big refrigerator and even a washing machine. (I know, a washing machine in the kitchen is not my idea of perfect, but there it is.) However, the big drawback was that it would cost a fortune to heat during the winter months. It had high ceilings and a non-thermal glass wall in the kitchen.

Rats, and we were so close.

Why are they called apartments, when they're all stuck together? - Anonymous

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