Sunday, January 25, 2009


When coming to China, we were told over and over again "everything is so cheap in China!" Well, unfortunately, we have not found that to be so true. I'm not sure if it is because I am a bargain shopper in the States (I rarely spend more than $6-8.00 on a shirt), or what, but many things, especially Western ones, to us are quite expensive.

For example, M&M's are around 4-5 Kuai, which converts to around $0.66. A standard can of Dr. Pepper is probably the highest markup I've found, ringing in around $1.75 (12 Kuai) in Qingdao. We expected this about western treats and delicacies though. However, meat, towels, bikes, and many other semi-necessary items have often taken us by surprise. We were particularly frustrated when it looked as though Nathan would need to pay several thousand kuai for a good bike. Luckily he was able to buy an affordable one second hand from someone we know.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, when a couple days ago I went to the market with around 350 Kuai(~$50 US) and walked away with four sweaters, two turtleneck long underwear, a thick jacket, two sets of earmuffs, a pair of gloves, and several snacks, spices, and veggies. And that's even with my foreign face!

What it really boils down to, I've decided, is being willing to look for the good deals. Things that are convenient to us, (where we live, this is often Western things) are often quite marked up. At our local shopping center you'll find clothes ranging from a few hundred to several thousand kuai. Fruits and veggies are often more expensive than in Texas. But when I have the time to go across town to the market, these prices quickly drop down to around 30-50 kuai a sweater, and a negligible amount for fruit, depending on how willing the seller is to bargain with.

What we have been pleasantly surprised with the prices of include services such as taxis, restaurants, hotels, massages, and repairmen. For our anniversary we stayed in a five star hotel for approximately $65 US a night! And luckily, the massage clinic down the road is less than $10 for a 70 minute massage. Ahhh, all the important things in life :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Pics...

Here are those pics I promised...

Snow, Chess, and Pollution!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to School

Wow, my first post of 2009 and it's already January 14th!

So, what have we been up to the past couple weeks? So much! School has started back up, and I have all new classes. Then last weekend we headed off to Chengdu to chaperon the ISC chess tournament.

Some of you may remember, Chengdu is the closest large city to the epicenter of the huge earthquake last year. Amazingly, most of the city was spared as the shock waves radiated out in an oval shape rather than a circle, thereby nearly completely missing the city as far as damage is concerned! As far as I know, we did not see any evidence of the earthquake in the areas we visited.

What we did see though was pandas! Chengdu has a panda preserve, similar to a zoo but with large, natural areas for the pandas to live in. Enjoy the pictures of these amazing creatures!

Btw, our Chess team did AWESOME. Our HS team took first and second place, the only two places that the tournament recognized. Congrats students!

It also snowed again. A lot! In fact, we almost couldn't make our flight on Friday for the chess tournament. After it started coming down hard around 2:00 PM, they closed the airport. After a few hours it opened back up, and we were only delayed by about 1 hour 40 min. And we had a lot of fun playing in the snow at school :-) Pictures of that coming soon.

Other than all that, nothing major is happening. We have a two week break starting next Thursday for Chinese New Year, and while we could do a bunch of traveling, we're planning to just lay low and get some rest. Who knows, I might even work some and get ahead on my lesson plans!

Miss you all and hope you are well!