My days have been starting sometime between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. This is not by design; rather, I think it is the result of my body trying to reset its circadian clock, which was offset by 14 hours by the journey to Asia. The research I’ve read indicates that our internal bio-clocks will reset, but it can take up to one day for every hour the clock is offset. So, at this point, I’m expecting to deal with wide-awakeness in the wee hours.
Meanwhile, as I’m lying in bed, I’m wondering what I can do. It seems a waste to be wide-awake staring at the crack in the curtains waiting for the sun to backlight an overcast sky. So I get up and prowl around, start to make ready breakfast for Char, wash some towels, take a shower, and look for ways to improve the apartment operating system. Gradually, we are setting up the apartment in a way that makes sense to us. Living here is a huge change from our house in West St. Paul.
Outside of the apartment, we are still trying to order our lives. Bus passes are a big deal for us because it is the fastest and least expensive mode of travel and the really only practical one for us. Taxicabs, while reasonably priced, still represent a significant expense when compared to the bus. But they are handy when your hands are full of packages or you need to save time. And a car is out of the question.
I would never drive in Hangzhou, anyway. There is a formula to handling a car in the city’s traffic that has not revealed itself to me. I watch it in front of me when on the bus or when driving with someone else, and I am totally and completely amazed that bodies and demolished cars and motorbikes are not strewn all over the streets. If Minnesota drivers drove as drivers in Hangzhou, the state and Minneapolis and St. Paul would all have budget surpluses because virtually everyone would get a traffic citation every day. On the other hand, maybe not, because half the driving population would have their drivers’ licenses suspended.
We’re still trying to resolve our restaurant situation. We would like to find a nearby take-out place, which we should be able to do. Along with that, though, we need to get the menu translated. That is a task for Char’s students.
A lady just came to the door. It was a bit odd because I couldn’t imagine who would come to our door. China does not have door-to-door encyclopedia or vacuum cleaner sales people to my knowledge, so I really couldn’t imagine who it might be. In fact, I ignored the knocking until it stopped. I even thought that perhaps the knocking was at the apartment door across from us. But a few minutes later it started again. Our door has one of those little round peepholes in it. When I saw the lady, I opened the door. She showed me a couple of pieces of paper. She spoke some English and, together, we established that it was the electric bill. Actually, there were two bills: one for the three months prior to our arrival, the other for the current period. So I gave her 150 Yuan ($24.50) and crossed my fingers that the lights stay on.
The settling-in phase will most likely continue for another week or so. After that, we hope to get re-acquainted with our friends whom we met a couple of years ago. We’re also starting to think about how we will spend the school holidays. I am particularly looking forward to that. Two years ago I was still employed and my work schedule prevented us from doing anything during that time off from school. School ends for Char on June 13, so that gives us about six weeks for travel before we have to set off on our overland exploit through central Asia. Thinking about what opportunities might avail themselves during that time, too.
I’ll be in touch.