Ever since it had become apparent that home ownership was not in the cards for us in the near future, we had been thinking about buying a car instead. Having a car would help our life in meaningful ways. It would make it easier for us to go and get blanket materials and have our own schedule on such trips. It would of course make travel to the hometown and surrounding areas much more comfortable with our bigger family (taking the bus now is quite crammed if you can imagine). And maybe someday we would be able to use our car for other purposes.
So we started taking trips to the second hand car market recently, and after a few trips we decided to stop hemming and hawing and just go ahead and buy the one we liked. Now we have wheels!
We haven’t even had it for one month yet and it is already such a learning experience. Owning a car in China is much different than owning one in the US where I am from.
One of the things that is different is that there are very few “old” cars here. I think the oldest cars available at the market were 7 or 8 years old! China has rules about old cars and people don’t like to drive old cars anyway because of “face” (something akin to embarrassment).
Another things is there are few cars available in colors other than white, black, or gray. I do not know why that is. When I ask people, they tell me people here like those colors best. I think it probably also has to do with availability. There just aren’t many other color options. Can you guess what color our car is?
So we have been enjoying our new wheels, traveling to the hometown with friends and most recently, taking loads of stuff to our new rental apartment. It is unfortunate that we have to move so frequently but at least now we can do so on our own terms.
Our new rental is in my very favorite building in Xining, and some of my best friends have lived in it before. It is much closer to the center of town, and within walking distance of my husband’s office. Though we will pay slightly more in rent, we will save much more money and time by living there by being able to eat lunch at home, and by not needing long commutes.
It also happens to be in the Tibetan area of town, so we will be able to walk to Tibetan restaurants, shops and places with Tibetan dancing!
In other news, Adventure Wednesday with my new friend “K” have been wonderful for getting out and exploring the city. It’s nice to have another foreign friend to hang around with who likes photography and exploring. When it is the two of us (plus PY), the attention from local people feels less (or perhaps more spread out), so being social is less daunting. With the coming end to the school term, those will be coming to an end for a while, but I hope they can resume in the fall.
We’ve started to have real sheepskin and lambskin blankets made! It is so exciting and educational to try new things. Our blanket business is doing well even though it is summertime.
K and I, and our business are going to be featured in some videos! We had a lovely time taking our good friend and Youtuber M and her family to K’s village, where we got to experience some local traditions, and were also interviewed. She has a wonderful artistic video style and you can check out her channel at Miriam in China.
KL will be graduating from kindergarten soon, but she will need to take one more year of kindergarten before she can enter first grade. I mull over our options and opportunities daily for this extra year. I have it in mind to send her to the village kindergarten for a year. There are many pros and cons to this, and we haven’t made any final decisions yet. Here are my thoughts:
Pros: Improved spoken Tibetan and she could learn some writing and reading
She would be immersed in Tibetan village culture
She would likely learn some traditional songs and dances
Cons: Away from her family for long stretches of time
Given (money for) junk food whenever she wants it
May undo some of the hard work I have done re: her behavior
We live in Xining which is an overall Han Chinese city. There are no Tibetan kindergartens or schools in the city. While I am happy with her progress learning to speak Mandarin, of her three languages, Tibetan is now the worst. Also she has had little exposure to Tibetan language and culture. She will start primary school in Chinese in Xining, so there isn’t a danger of her Mandarin suffering. This might be a good chance for her to catch up with her father’s language and culture.