Flat Out, Part 1

Torture instrument  (it can also be used as a bed)
Regular readers of my online ramblings will know that our apartment in Shenzhen is in fact in Futian, opposite the huge and splendid Lianhuacun park. Another advantage is that our apartment is located half-way between two MTR stations on different lines, Children’s Palace and Lianhuacun. However, in this posting I am going to take your, dear reader, into our apartment and show you round a bit. This may perhaps be of some interest to anyone who is thinking of living and working in China (and Shenzhen in particular).
Left out in the cold
The good news about our apartment is that it is cheap. All of the Bank of China Towers blocks are clad in ghost-busting reddish-dark pinkish tiles. This is in order to keep away the evil spirits of those who were executed nearby. (It seems to work, as so far no spirits have appeared, although I do sometimes have a glass or two of vodka when Irena makes some Russian-themed soup.) As a result, a lot of Chinese people do not want to live in these blocks and so our apartment is a bit cheaper than it would otherwise be.
Our apartment also costs us less because we are foreigners. Yes, it is a sad fact that there is a kind of inverted racism in China, so that landlords seem to prefer to let out their apartments to non-Chinese.
Mind the gap!
And the bad news? Our flat is freezing! The windows are only single-glazed and there is no central heating. The air conditioners are supposed to work as heaters, but they don’t. The two-bar electric fire makes you warm, if you are sitting right next to it, and in any case most of the heat goes out of the gap under the front door.

The only warm place at the moment

Another disaster area is the small, windowless kitchen. There are just two gas rings and no space for the oven, so the oven is in the junk room next door. (The electric oven only works if you connect it to the socket for the shower.) There is also no room for the fridge, so that has to go next to the table in the dining area. In fact, there is not really enough room for cooking in the kitchen, whereas I was under the impression that this is in fact the purpose of every kitchen. But not in China, as sensible people go to a restaurant instead. The kitchen also seems to do duty as a cockroach kindergarten.
Any other bad news? The mattress in our bedroom could have been used by the Spanish Inquisition as a torture instrument and the door will fall off the wardrobe if you try to open it or close it. Or look at it. 

A little oven goes a long, log way
So how much? Well, we pay 6,500RMB a month, plus a few small charges occasionally for electricity, gas and one or two other things. Although that is quite cheap for an apartment, it is not so cheap when you remember that in the winter you will be living in a big refrigerator. As you can imagine, paying the rent each month does involve that most stressful and time-consuming of activities, namely a visit to a Chinese bank, but a transfer within the Middle Kingdom is usually a lot easier than sending money out of the country.
So far, so good (or sofa so bad, in this case)


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