30 January 2007

"It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"

Currently listening to: Garrison Starr, The Sound of You and Me

Currently reading: Lonely Planet, Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (Countdown to Thailand...11 days!)

I've recently struggled to remember to take pictures of what's going on here. I think I mentioned it before, but life here is just becoming more and more normal, which is a good thing, but it makes it more difficult to document. So I forced myself to take a bunch of pictures yesterday in an effort to make this post. The theme for today will take the form of a question: What changed in Wuxi when I was gone for Christmas? Answer: EVERYTHING!!

I think everyone is familiar with the breakneck pace of things here in China, but sometimes the reality is truly overwhelming. Let me give a tour of my neighborhood while pointing out some of the recent changes.

It is only fitting to update my loyal readers of things from previous posts.

My neighbors bought another chicken and it's huge (this picture doesn't really do it justice). It's been around for a few weeks now so it's only a matter of time before it becomes dinner.

They are making huge progress on the apartments around the corner.

It's hard to believe that people were living in houses that are no longer standing on this land when we first arrived.

This is a picture from my porch looking down on the construction site (it's huge!). The white and red, and white and blue buildings in the middle are the temporary housing for the construction workers. I think the red housing is new within the past few weeks.

Our precious Orange Restaurant...there is notable progress and it has the potential to look quite cute. I think it will be upgraded from "hole-in-the-wall" to "award winning" because of the remodel (that may be a bit generous...who knows). We're holding out for after (maybe before...again, who knows) Chinese New Year for the Grand Opening.

The Bank of China next door that it to blame for this whole remodel craziness. It does look very nice inside now.

Tour of the Neighborhood (AKA What HASN'T Changed?)
My picture safari led me to try to capture everything that has been installed, constructed, lit, and deconstructed within walking distance of my apartment.

The new trashcans in front of the school..."Protect CircumStance Begin With me"

The apartments around the corner from the school--they used to have green protective netting up all over the outside.

The construction project just across the street from the school. I'm not quite sure what exactly it will be, but there is a serious foundation in place.

These kinds of vehicles are so funny. I'm not sure what their purpose is and where they are going, but they sure look dangerous (Note: The engine is completely exposed and very loud).

This bridge did not EXIST when we came 6 months ago. We have watched it through the various stages of construction.

Same bridge, just a different view...It's not in use yet, but I'm sure it won't take long for that to change. A similarly placed bridge on a parallel road closer to school got completely torn down in the time I was gone for Christmas. Speculation has it that it was torn down to get built again because it's quicker to do that here!

Brief Interlude: My Apartment
I have received many kind notes and wonderful letters over the past few months and I have taken to decorating the backs of my doors with them. Leave me a comment or email me if you don't have my address and you would like to send me a letter.

The back of my front door (with most of my Christmas letters).

The back of my bedroom door.

The back of my door to the living room (the orange couch room)--with many birthday greetings.

Final Round: The Last Batch
Here are last few pictures of note.

The middle school right next to our complex. They got decked out with the blue edge lights sometime after the October holiday.

Yet another construction project on my street? It certainly looks like it, but there are still homes behind it and the heavy-duty equipment is nowhere to be found, at least for the time being, all though it will be one spot for me to keep my eye on.

This bridge also did not exist when I came and the crazy thing is that it opened up during the time I was gone. It's really cool, it's a viaduct, but it has a nice little exit for our road. Note all the bike and motorbike traffic--that's rush hour in Wuxi.

I'm not sure where it leads, but I'm sure it's someplace cool.

These pansies got planted a while ago (apparently the pansy is a nice 'winter' flower, I wouldn't know because I've always lived where it frosts in the winter [no quotes=real winter]).

Looking back the opposite direction--the yellow lit bridge is just barely visible in the middle, that's the way we go to downtown.

The place where we get massages also recently got lights on the trim.

I didn't even mean to have this be another artsy picture, but I really like faint outline of the sunset in the background...that's my street--Chang Jiang Bei Lu or Chang Jiang North Road.

The only thing I have left to say is how it was for life to just keep going while we had limited internet over Christmas. What would have been big news for me stateside, the death of President Ford, was just a passing piece of news. Had I still been in GR or even CO, I'm sure I would have followed it all with interest.

The death of Saddam Hussein was unexpected for everyone I think. It's funny how I define my connectedness to the real world on whether or not I have access to the important news agencies online. I don't think I read one single article about the whole situation and now it seems so minute. I'm not passing judgment on that whole situation, but merely reflecting on how important it was at the time and now how inconsequential it seems a month later to me here.

My last social/cultural commentary was how it was so refreshing to NOT to watch Dick Clark countdown to the New Year. I've never understood how he is still doing that show, but I never particularly enjoyed it in the States. Despite my negativity towards that iconic American tradition, I must admit that it felt surreal to watch the bilingual program that welcomed the New Year on CCTV 9. Sometimes I forget for a split second, or maybe a few hours or days, that I live in China and things like that program, or more recently, dinner with some local friends, are nice friendly reminders of how far I have to go in my understanding of what I experience daily.

Random thought: It's been sunny the last few days here and it's glorious. I love the sun. Even if it's still cold (which it has been), I'd so much rather have that than a bit warmer weather and rain or something. I guess that's what growing up in Colorado, where it's sunny some 300 plus days a year which is more than Florida, did to me.

Wow, talk about procrastination...I have some serious finals to write.

Peace be with you,


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