A Room With a View


“I’m not doing this to break records. I’m doing this because I enjoy it. Not to mention the best reason for climbing a mountain…”

“And that is?”

[telly cuts out]

After living out of a battered suitcase since November, I’ve finally got an apartment. Moving house is always kind of stressful, and moving in China comes with even more potential snafus: having to stir instant coffee with a chopstick; trying repeatedly to register as a landed alien without all the relevant paperwork; remembering that you still don’t own a decent pair of shoes.

The first viewing began inauspiciously. I rode the bus through a neighborhood that looked like China’s answer to the question “can we shoot an N.W.A video here?” I began to think that the ‘scenic area’ was ironically named. “If this is Happy Valley,” I quipped to no one in particular* “then I’d hate to see the Sad one!”

Luckily, it turned out that the bus was just passing through some communist shithole on its way to the new apartment complex. Happy Valley Scenic Area is a veritable consumer kingdom, with the same shit as everywhere else: amusement park, KFC, Pizza Hut, even a Tesco (the first one I’ve ever seen in China).

The apartment is modern, spacious and bright. I assume that the estate agent was trying to sell it as thus in the first place, but my Mandarin is terrible.

We’ve got the Chinese version of Netflix**; great if you want to watch constantly buffering Tom Cruise films or the bottom of Jackie Chan’s canonical barrel. I tried watching Star Trek V last night but just at the point where I realized it was absolute wank (about three minutes after the credit sequence), the film turned itself off and I decided, presumably like everyone else who’s ever started watching Star Trek V, just to get on with something else.

*(no one in particular understands me here, let alone gets my sense of humour)

**(almost half as good as having Netflix!)