. I managed to use the pay phone in our apartment convenient store in order to call my overseer to request a pass code. With over an hour to kill I managed to kill 30 minutes sitting on a bench on 3rd street. Just kickin' back on 3rd street watching the different modes of transport drive by is quite entertaining. Many strange looking cars, trucks, three wheeled rick-shaws (tuk tuks), drove by, but the bikes were more interesting. Different types of electric bikes were everywhere, some with a guy with side saddle riding girlfriend on back. Or moms with little boy princes on the back seat in the perilous traffic. Husband with wife behind and kid on the handlebars, businessman in expensive suit with tie flapping in the breeze. Street punk wannabe's terrorizing the slower moving bicycle traffic. Three wheeled pedal bikes moving slowly with a cargo of broken old lumber, others carrying flattened cardboard boxes stacked 5 feet thick, one old three wheeler was carrying a full sized mattress and taking up the entire bike lane causing the rest of the traffic to jump to the side walk and play dodge the pedestrian. A couple times while sitting on the bench I nearly got my toes flattened by the speeding e-bikes narrowly missing the beggar lady who was chanting on her knees prostrated in front of her begging bowl.
All this was happening in one of the most beautiful cities in China
. Hangzhou, the Capital of Zhejiang province is well planned and simply gorgeous. The sidewalks are made of cut granite slabs with curbs of cut granite which is supposed to separate the street traffic from the pedestrians. There is a newly planted tree every 25 feet or so along the sidewalk, with elaborate landscaping down either side of the wide streets and boulevards of the city. Being subtropical, palm trees (Mediterranean not the California type) grow as well as other beautiful plants. It does freeze in the winter on occasion but not as hard as North Texas. City workers can be seen everywhere picking up trash, pruning shrubs, sweeping sidewalks with brooms, ect. Nicest looking city I've seen anywhere. It is near the humid wet coast and the pollution streaks running down the sides of the private building do add a certain dismalness to the place, but the millions of trees more than make up for it. Although I get more than a few stares, I few completely safe here, sitting on my adopted bench on third street, in a city of 8 million people.
After my Foreign expert supervisor arrived, she took me and two other teachers to the cellular shop to get our phones working then dropped us off at the "Wu Mart", a Chinese version of Wal-Mart where we shopped for those bare necessities a new apartment requires. One teacher is a very brave graduate student from Minnesota, who spent the past year in Taiwan Province, and the other is a long time Hangzhou resident who hails from Great Britain, and has the pleasant accent of the Geico Gecko
. He can speak a certain amount of Chinese and can read enough to teach us what the different types of cuisine are in the little restaurants that are ubiquitous in my neighborhood. One restaurant serves Chinese Muslim food which I plan to try tomorrow for lunch, another was Fujian quisine, another was a cheap noodle shop, we opted for the local high dollar smorgasbord type restaurant and tried out 8 different dishes in the grand Chinese style. The bill was about $8.00 each, in one of the nicest restaurants around. Both coworkers are very pleasant and knowledgeable teachers, it's damn nice to be able to work with them. In many of the non-university jobs the teachers often have no experience or background in teaching, a few are actually wanted for crimes in their home countries, others have false credentials, but Universities check their employees out thoroughly and for that I am most thankful.
Took a walk down 3rd St which is one block from my apartment this morning. I stayed on 3rd so I wouldn't wind up getting lost which is easy for a newcomer to do since the writing and signs appear similar. I walked a few blocks then took a right on 6th street which looked to be a main boulevard and many places to shop. I found a fruit stand where I bought a mini watermelon for 60 cents, noted where the hospital and bakery were, saw the KFC before returning home to await my foreign expert guide. As I walked down 3rd and neared my side street, I sat down on a bench and wrote down my observations. Plus when writing I don't feel a need to address the stares and grins of the locals who were walking and riding past me. I haven't seen any non-Chinese person in the 24 hours of my arrival here, nor did I see any in the first two days that I lived in a nearby hotel. Even more isolating is that I can't get the internet in my apartment to work and my phone card ran out of money last night