A weekend in the country

August 8, 2011 - Suzhou, China

Who would think I'd be so excited to head back into work on Monday morning after spending my first weekend in the "Chinese countryside."  I am sure there are many more remote places than where I am staying, however, being by myself in an area that really has no western influence and my "security blanket" Freda still in Taiwan, made for a long weekend full of simple tasks and small triumphs.  As I wrote earlier, my new hotel has few amenities, no workout room, no kitchen, no small convenience store and almost zero English.  I'm in a typical hotel room but with an added sun porch including a swing and wooden tub (see photos) and a small refrigerator that doesn't seem to get things really cold.  My goals for the weekend were to do some laundry, figure out what to eat for lunch and dinner (breakfast is included) and get outside so I don't feel like I'm trapped in a room. Maybe not in the typical way, however, all of these tasks were accomplished and I must admit I felt pretty good about "the small things" which are sometimes overlooked at home. Luckily I still had some staples like pasta from when Jamie was here and the office gave me a hot plate to boil water.

There were warnings of Typhoon Muifa hitting Shanghai on Saturday so I was prepared to see a weekend of rain.  Saturday morning was cloudy but no rain so I decided to head out and see what I could find.  I knew past our offices was a town but really had no idea what type of stores I would find but I was determined to locate some coffee creamer (they don't supply coffee/Nescafe in the hotel room) since Jamie and I had bought a jar and I do need my cup of coffee w/cream in the morning.  The walk clearly indicated I was no longer in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) which is incredibly clean and made up of a mix of both Western and Chinese stores.  My walk was more along the lines of passing a few chickens running outside of store fronts or shacks for that matter, some cleaner than others and nothing labeled in English.  I saw a woman carrying a plastic bag with some items so I headed down the street where she was coming from and did find a small convenience store that I could by my coffee mate (along with a few TsingTao beers).  On the way back I ventured into one small store and bought three cucumbers with all eyes upon me.  We exchanged a few smiles and he held up 3 fingers so I paid the 3 RMB or a whopping $0.47.  There was a spring in my step on the way home as I felt this trip was a major accomplishment because it could have been really easy to not venture out at all.  Lunch - peanut butter & jelly (took 2 pieces of bread from breakfast buffet) and dinner, buttered noodles with cucumber salad.  I had so much success on Saturday that on Sunday I took the same walk, went to the same stores and bought a few more vegetables.  They giggled as I came back in as they must have recognized me.....

So with 1 1/2 hours gone from my day after my walk, now what.... I'm not one to sit and watch the one Asian News channel on TV as the stories seem to repeat after the 1st hour, so I busied myself with reading, internet, work stuff and I guess you could call it a highlight, washing all my laundry by hand.  It was a challenge to figure out where to hang everything to dry but again, these were the small triumphs of the simple life.  I even got to watch some of the movies we brought on CD on my computer, something I never seem to find time to do at home.  My dinner on Sunday was to saute the eggplant and tomatoes I bought and mix them with the spaghetti from Saturday.  It basically worked, however, there were moments that I thought I would set off the fire alarm and sprinkler system due to the steam being let off by the pot.  I guess hotel rooms are not kitchens and can you imagine if I caused a scene like that?  It made me laugh and next weekend I may just stick to boiling water.

All in all, a good weekend.  A lot of quiet time, something we may all ask for during our busy lives but it makes for long days when even the simple tasks are not simple.  Thank goodness my stay here will be shortened as this truly isn't the long-term apartment set up like we had in SIP!  And as I said in the beginning, it also makes one look forward to Monday and getting back to work..... until next time.

Deb


Pictures

New stove
Wash machine
Porch swing
Hotel Entrance
 
 

2 Comments

Christine Clark:
August 8, 2011
Wow, you are brave:) What an adventure!
Mary Chandler:
August 9, 2011
Deb,

Hi! Thanks for sharing! Particularly the contrast with SIP as well as all lifestyle aspects/"long day".
Insightful and thought-provoking from many aspects!

Look forward to seeing you soon!
Mary/John, Jack and Jennifer
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