Not For All The Tea In China

A blog describing the idiosyncracies of working and teaching in China and life on a day to day basis. With stories of unbelievable stupidity and outright ripping off of foreigners.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Not so central heating

A teacher in China has to put up with a lot of crap to put it mildly, the Chinese just have a different way of doing things, which often involves not bothering to do anything that needs to be done, unless you constantly harass them to do so, or there is something in it for them.

Apartments can become a major source of irritation for a foreign teacher in China, usually the school you work for will rent you an apartment, but it may not be exactly what you expect. I remember coming back to China from Thailand to work for a school I had briefly worked for before leaving. Supposedly they had my apartment all set up for me. I had just got off the plane and had to wait a couple of hours before the school actually took me to the apartment.

Arriving at the area with some of the staff, I was surprised to see I had arrived at what looked like the Chinese ghetto; the funny thing was so were the staff who were with me, as they had just delegated the job of finding an apartment to someone else. Upon enetering the apartment which was supposed to be furnished and with cooking facilities I was more than a little shocked to see not a bone of furniture, a wooden frame for a bed with no mattress and dirt everywhere. Actually this is quite common in China, especially the dirt part. People leave the mess for the next person to clean.

Anyway I had to change the apartment myself, but not before having to forfeit some money to the landlord due to the fact that the school had already paid three months in advance. It is true that at least it had a hot shower(uncommon in chinese apartments)the only problem was the water was only turned on twice a day for about an hour at a time, I was either alseep or at work.

My current apartment is quite nice, I chose it myself and pay for it myself; the problem in Northern China is that it gets seriously cold in the winter, Central heating isn't common in China; I have radiators, but the local goverment decides when to turn them on, ie. when the workers start shoveling coal into a furnace to heat the water that goes into the radiators. I have to pay for this privelage. I wouldn't mind if it actually meant my house was nice and warm, but it's not! I have to use other electric heaters to make up for it which costs me a fortune.

So the men from the shoveling heat bureau came round the other day, several times, you see if the temperature isn't above a certain level they have to give me my money back. Of course no such thing occured they just promised to shovel quickly in the future. Obviously it won't change anything.

A friend of mine in the south of China lived in a university campus on the ground floor and was rather cold in the winter, so he asked the school for a heater, which surprisingly they gave him, upon hearing this another foreign teacher on the third floor decided to also ask the school for a heater as he was also cold; their response: "You don't need one because your on the third floor and therefore closer to the sun".

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