My hair is clean, soft, curled and full of hairspray. Sitting in Song’s Enzuo Salon on 程阁老巷 (Chenggelaoxiang) waiting for Song to finish Nicks hair. We fly out tomorrow. I have tried my hardest to not think about. Moving Mum and Dad helped. Boy was that a mission! Nick and I saw the new apartment on Thursday without Mum and Dad, an emergency trip to the NZ Embassy in 上海 (Shanghai) meant that Mum and Dad didn’t see it until late night Saturday, and they were sold! We asked for the contract to be prepared so that they could start moving in on Sunday. Talk about everything happening at once!!! And then we had to move them… I knew how much of a pain in the ass it was for them to simply move from one building to another within the same gated community. Moving them from 星雨华府 (Xinyuhuafu or Silver Rain Mansions, a gated community thats definitely not as illustrious as it sounds!) on 集庆门大街 (Jiqingmen Street) across to the other side of 建耶区 (Jianye district) to Somerset on 青奥北路 (Qing’ao North Road) was a mission and a half! It is times like these I am very thankful that Chinese apartments are mostly furnished. Each time we had suitcases, boxes and desks piled up at the north gate of their old apartment community, we would send Dad to the other side of the road to wave down a cab. He would them jump in, drive down to the intersection, do a u-turn and drive to where we were waiting. The taxi drivers were always very hesitant about all the crap we had stacked on the side of the road. Language barriers meant that we couldn’t tell them that we would put what we could fit into one cab and what we couldn’t fit, we would simply put into another cab! The language barrier also meant that we could feign ignorance when the driver would try to tell us we couldn’t load up the cab. Not speaking the local language has it’s pro’s and it’s con’s!!!
Pretty much after that first run of loaded-to-the-hilt cabs (three cabs FULL of Mum and Dad’s crap! And that was just the first load!), Mum refused to leave the new apartment. She loved the cleanliness of their new two bedroom, two bathroom apartment and was quite happy to unpack and potter about finding places to put everything. She had tried so hard not to get her hopes up. Because, like me, if she lets her guard down and gets her hopes up only for the deal to fall through… Well let’s just say we don’t deal well with it. She taught me to be cautious and not to celebrate until it actually happens. So there was my Mum, in the midst of suitcases and boxes of crap exploding all over their new apartment, finally able to get excited and celebrate this win. She kept going from room to room reliving what she liked about each one. And it’s funny the little things that we find exciting. The kitchen, although small by our Kiwi standards, was clean, bright and new with a small dishwasher and an oven. Yes, they finally had an OVEN!!! Traditionally, Chinese do not have ovens in their kitchens, so all of the other apartments that they had previously rented were sans oven. And as a Kiwi who grew up cooking most of our dinners in the oven, not to mention baking galore, not having an oven was a difficult adjustment for Dad to make. Now he has an oven again, he almost has to reteach himself how to use it!!! Bet Mum is looking forward to that!
The master bedroom is spacious, with a lovely desk and a comfy desk chair. The TV in their bedroom not only gets some English channels, it also has a range of movies for them to watch, in English, Chinese and I think there are a handful in other languages too. Dad has struggled with streaming movies ever since they moved to China. Now he doesn’t have to! He has heaps of them to watch in his bedroom AND they change every month! Talk about spoiled.
The bathrooms are nice and big and CLEAN. Yes, clean is a reoccurring theme for excitement. The shower in Mum and Dad’s ensuite is huge and the wall opposite to the glass door is a big window, making the whole bathroom very bright and open. And they have a proper vanity, with proper cupboards under it. Like I said, it’s the little things!
As seems to always be the case here in China, the main bathroom is smaller than the master ensuite. Good thing about this apartment is that the master ensuite is pretty big, so the main bathroom being a little smaller doesn’t mean it’s small as such. The spare room (our room!) has heaps of space for Mum and Dad to store all of their papers and programs and books and STUFF, whilst still having plenty of room for guests.
The lounge has the usual Chinese covered in balcony, with a washer and a dryer out there. The balcony looks down onto the restaurant that Mum and Dad are already regulars at! We joked about Nick rigging up a pulley system for delivery, because it is actually that close. Mum loves watching the trucks and construction going on across the way, as the whole area is still very much in development. A short walk through lots of statues of Olympic athletes, there is a tram the you can catch to more shops, to our favourite coffee shop Ink or to the metro station. While it’s not as convenient as living so close to 河西万达 (Hexi Wanda) was, it has it’s own conveniences. Like the pool, the gym and the yoga room, all brand spanking new facilities. Or like the bi-weekly cleaner Mum gets as part of the rent! We arrived at the apartment and it was all totally furnished, like a hotel room with everything including cutlery, glasses, robes, plates, coat hangers and linen! We made a pile of things that we already had and were bringing from the old apartment, for the housekeeping manager to take away with her. Mum didn’t want to be responsible for their wine glasses and she thought she didn’t want the beautiful clean, fresh white sheets that were provided… Until she slept in them a few times! The sheets stayed.
I have to say I struggled with the apartment they were in when we arrived back in 南京 (Nanjing) a month ago. If you have been to China, you’ll know what I mean if I say it has the China smell… It is an apartment that has not been very well looked after prior to Mum and Dad moving in. There were holes in the doors, flooring that was coming up, a window pane in the balcony that was not fixed at all and just sitting loose in the window frame… And the landlord was a real dick to deal with. It was the kind of situation that I watched my Mum do what she has done all my life: make the best of it. So It was about bloody time that something went her way. And I am just super glad that we were there to help make it happen. Knowing that they are in a clean apartment with amazing staff at reception (we made friends with the staff before we even moved in!) makes it a little easier to leave. A little.