Time to Move On
The commute to work everyday is hell. I live about a ten minute bike ride to the rail, which then connects indirectly with the subway, then I have to transfer to a different line before I finally arrive at work an hour later after being squashed like the last unwelcome pea in one messed up pod. Add to this that everybody is tired and grumpy, probably didn't brush their teeth after eating loads of raw garlic the night before, and believe me, it is not the thing I most look forward to each day. At least the garlic gases act as a pungent ammonia-like substance and thus wake me up a bit. God, that is a sad rationalization! Anyhow, I figure I lose three hours each day living so far away (I live in Wudaokou and my work is at Wangfujing--for those of you familiar with Beijing), one hour being lost going to bed an hour early. Yes, I know, poor me!
Anyhow, I happened to stumble upon a wonderful place (thanks Julia!) to live near my work, a place called Nanchizi （南池子), which is located right near Tiananmen square and is a five minute walk away from work. So it is super centralized, close to work, and as peaceful and serene as one could ask for in almost the direct center of Beijing. Basically, it is in one of the few remaining enclaves of traditional Chinese homes near Tiananmen Square. By traditional I mean the rustic and rapidly disappearing siheyuan (四合院）, or Chinese courtyard, along with its unique beat and vibe stemming from the extreme community from living in such close quarters; in fact, the siheyuan was and still to some extent remains an integral part of the infamous hutongs (胡同）and its architectural layout is demonstrative of Chinese morality, ethics, and tradition. It's basically a sqaured enclosure with one entrance, inside of which usually in the middle is a nice garden (this one does indeed have a nice one) and in the past typically lived one big family of as many as four generations. Now, usually each room or one of the four sides inside is rented out. I got a nice place, two floors, one bedroom, overlooking the garden, and will be sharing the rest of the courtyard with a few Chinese families and a couple of foreigners. And I got super lucky finding this place for the price I did. They are in such high demand that finding a single room in a siheyuan is almost impossible, especially in this extremely well-located and coveted area. So, if everything works out this coming Saturday, I should be moved in by Sunday evening, right in time for my father and stepmother's arrival on Wednesday. May the gods be wonderful!