The big move to China was relatively successful. I had a lot of nostalgic feelings about China before we landed here in July. My time here in high school was a lot of fun, and it didn’t include having to worry about anything important like getting residence permits, trying to clear a huge shipment of furniture and a “highly forbidden” stroller through Shanghai customs, finding a doctor for my daughter’s well-baby visits, training for 50k mountain race, wondering if that suspect dumpling I let my baby chew on is the reason she can’t sleep at night, or buying butt-loads of bottled water because the tap water keeps getting cut off or turning brown. The first month in China is tough, but we got through it and now I can focus on the smaller things that I find absolutely absurd about my new life in Kunshan.
The apartment complex we settled on is called “MixTown.” No Chinese person knows it by this name, even though there are huge signs all over the place that say “MixTown.” It’s real name is 万科魅力花园 which is something like Vanke Charm Garden. Anyway, MixTown is characterized as a great complex for those with babies or small children. There is a street of shops at the gate to the complex that is decorated with these goofy monkey and chick statues. When I first saw these (from a distance), I thought they were just cute and silly.
I mean, it’s cute, right? A monkey going cross country skiing! Then I realized that MixTown is actually not monkey-themed, but rather Christmas themed.
Santa chicken with his Christmas tree is here year-round. I keep finding more and more Christmas stuff everyday. There is some weird obsession with Christmas here. But then there’s this guy, too.
Where are his eyes? That’s creepy! The little fence around these metal Christmas critters is so you can plop your little kid in there and let him play without worrying that he’ll be run over by an e-bike. I saw one woman throw her baby in there (he couldn’t have been more than 10 months old) and then run into the bathroom while he stood on his wobbly legs and screamed. I stood by him just to make sure no one kidnapped him.
Probably the most annoying thing about these faded Christmas eyesores are the fact that they are only two years old and they are already destroyed. The tail has been ripped off of this horse leaving rusty, jagged edges in its place. I see little kids playing on it all the time.
The kids that call MixTown home are out of control. It reminds me of that one episode of Star Trek where they land on the planet run by children who haven’t ever seen a “grup.” That’s why these monkeys are all beat up and damaged. The boys pee on everything, too.
Do you notice the pee marks at the bottom of this lamp post? This isn’t anything new for China; little kids have been encouraged for decades to use the bathroom whenever they happen to be when the urge strikes. This problem has actually improved greatly since I was here in the 1990’s. I’ve been up and down all 34 floors of my building’s stairwell several times and not one corner smells of stale urine. But, on this lamp post, you’ll notice the light portion at the top is cracked. That’s because these kids play down here at night until about 11:00pm every night, and the main activity is screaming and throwing things at the lamp post. This just boggles my mind. I do enjoy the lively atmosphere, though.
Our building is really easy to find in MixTown because it’s marked by a panda wearing a cowboy hat while riding in a gondola that’s floating on top of some Christmas balls.
That’s our building behind the flying Italian ranch panda. This beautiful statue had to be barricaded because those naughty children ripped all the fake presents off of it, and the Chinese grandpas that play cards here like to kick this thing when they lose. See how torn up this poor panda is?
Once you pass the gondola thing, you’ll go through the gate and you’ll find this little guy:
An Easter bunny holding a black egg! So maybe MixTown isn’t just Christmas-themed, but rather major-Christian-holiday-themed. Turn the corner from the bunny with the thousand-year-old egg and you’ve made it to our lovely home in MixTown.
When you get onto the elevator, be mindful that the emergency call button is within reach of toddlers.
You should also take note of any important messages posted in the elevator. Use your handy Microsoft Translator app if you can’t read Chinese. This is THE BEST app for translating Chinese.
Who knows what alarming thing is going to happen in our building between September 12 and 16. Oh well. It’ll just be a fun surprise.