Well now that I have had a good chance to settle in, things are going great! We picked up Peter (MCVP for MoC from the Czech Republic) from the train station yesterday so now we are up to five people in the flat. I'm lucky that none of the guys are bothered by my snoring at night - hehehe.
I'm absolutely loving it though. Last night we went out with a group of about 15 people to an Italian restaurant and then to a mediterranean bar after for shisha and drinks. It was a pretty expensive night (well - for chinese standards), but it really showed me the life of expats and I learnt that alot of them hang out together at the same places. Last night was good for me because although I had a great time, I realized how much more I want to get to know the Chinese culture and stay away from the expat lifestyle. I didn't come to China to hang out at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Tai Chi: Older people here practice tai chi in the mornings out in the gardens or parks around the apartment complexes. This morning I woke up to six chinese people in about their fifties practicing their tai chi. I asked Leon, the MCP of AIESEC China why young people don't practice it and he said that most students learn it in school, but don't generally practice it. So after time - they lose the movements and forget how to do it. It's great to see that alot of the older people though still do it. I'm watching from up in our apartment and am slowing learning the basics. Maybe if I get enough guts, one of these days I will go down and practice with them :p
Hair Salons and Massage Parlors: Yes, there are "sketchy" massage parlors, but less and less as they are getting closed down. But the good massage parlors only charge $5 for a 30 minute back massage and hair salons are on every corner! We have one in the main floor of our apartment building...but some of the hair styles here are a little too crazy for my liking...and with my luck, if I went in to get my haircut, I wouldn't know what to ask for and might walk out with some crazy coloring and style. I'm adventurous, but not that adventurous. Haha. We'll see...I might get forced into it as my hair grows longer. But, the point of this topic is that these places are located everywhere for very cheap prices!
Taxi Cabs: There are two main types of taxi cabs here - 1.2's and 1.6's. 1.2's are generally older/smaller cars without air conditioning that charge 10 yuan for the first 4km. and then 1.2 yuan for every kilometer after that. 1.6's are newer cars with air conditioning that use the same pricing system - 10 yuan for the first 4 kilometers and 1.6 yuan for every kilometer after that. Really, there is very little difference from them...so we always take the 1.2's. This basically means that you can take a taxi for a 10 minute cab ride and pay about $3. Pretty sweet eh?
That's enough for today. We're going to be cleaning up the new apartment today and finish unpacking so that everything is ready for our big MC Transition party tomorrow night for all of the aiesecers in our apartment! Don't forget -I'm only posting some of my pictures here - you can view all of them at http://johnkelly.fotopic.net
zai jian (goodbye).