Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ocean-Front Apartment in China

Although it's quite expensive to buy a house and ridiculous to buy a car with at least 100% for import tax in China, the overall living expense here is quite cheap compared to what one usually pays for in the US.

I moved in this very nice 4-bed-2bath-apartment with ocean view in a high-rise community in ShenZhen. Although it is from one of the nicest and the most expensive community here, the monthly rent is about 7500RMB (less than USD 1200). And I converted an entire room to a closet for my clothes and shoes. A quite luxurious lifestyle. :)

P.S. The average monthly income in ShenZhen is less than RMB6000.

The grass-land in the community, at the end of which is the bay and the bridge to cross over to HongKong. It's quite a view to watch the colorful lights at the HongKong bay at night, especially over a glass of nice wine.

Free Falls from the 32rd to the 20th Floor in the Elevator

Still the 1st day at work, and the adventure continued.

I needed to get my badge. Gary offered to take me down to the HR office at the 7th floor, and we took the elevator. While descending from the 32rd floor in the elevator, Gary told me that once he had a free fall from the 32rd to the 20th floor in the elevator.

“My God! Are you kidding me!!!!” Imagine a bomb just dropped in my head. For a few seconds, I could not hear anything but feel my own legs shaking.

“No. If you asked around, many of our co-workers would share their similar experiences with you. Some more than once.” Still smiling at me, he responded with the most calm voice

“Did you sue the company?” I asked.

“No. Things like this happen all the time in China. Why would anybody ever make a big fuss about it? And, generally it is safe to take elevators. There is a small device installed in the elevator that can sense the speed and stop the elevator when the speed is too high.“

Speechless, I was still in shock.

“You know, it’s really not a big deal. And, it’s kind of fun, like taking a roller-coaster ride.”

Still speechless, still recovering from the shock.

I was shocked by what Gary said. But, I was even more shocked by how he said it. He said it in a way as if he were telling me a story, not a life-threatening accident.

Noticing I am literally freaking out at this conversation, Gary tried to calm me down by telling me more horror stories about mal-functioning elevators at the train station, food poisoning,… He thought listening to more horror stories in China will help build up my resistance.

I interrupted, “ Gary, please, give me a break. One horror story a day”

Why the Office is So Dark During the Regular Business Hour?

Back from lunch the first day.

Out of the elevator, I stepped into this huge office space, and yet dark and quiet.

What’s going on?
Out of the electricity? No, not possible, I can see lights from a few monitors.
Out for some important meeting? No, my boss was with me at lunch.

Confused, I continued walking towards my desk…

A few steps into the aisle, I almost stumbled into a camping bed with a kid taking a nap holding a stuffed animal.

Most Chinese people have a habit of taking a nap after lunch. Therefore, Tencent has a freaking two-and-a-half-hour lunch-break everyday so that those kids can take out their camping beds and stuffed animals to take a nap.

Now, it makes sense to see those camping-beds and folding-chairs laying around the corners of the office.

P.S. The average age of the employees in Tencent is freaking 23!!! A bunch of kids running around and having stuffed animals everywhere. The logo animal of Tencent is a fat Penguin. So, we have stuffed penguins everywhere in the office.

Living in the Dream

Today is my first day at work. Dressed in sleek-black I am trying my best to remain calm. Although this is not my first job, not even the first time to change job, today is the first time I wok in China. Little did I know all the funs and adventures followed afterwards.

My boss took me and a few other directors out for a nice lunch. Sitting in his brand-new BMW 5-series and listening to their conversations about eat-outs at the expensive restaurants and overseas vacationing tours, I cannot help wondering that people in China, at least those in Tencent, are living quite a dream life.

Endless Negotiations

One day when you suddenly realized that you could not bear negotiating anything in Chinese with anybody about anything anymore, you know you just had it enough.

Yes, after a whole month of practicing my negotiation skills and patience, tired, frustrated, exhausted and beaten up, I have reached my limit.   

Negotiation is involved in pretty much everything here in China.  And, don't take this lightly.  Compared to taking trips to China, actually living here pushes one to a whole new level of battlefield. 

Everything requires negotiation, re-negotiation and endless-negotiation here.

To hire an agent to clear the custom, you negotiate.
To make sure things get done, you negotiate and constantly follow up. 
To apply for a living permit with the local police, you negotiate.
To clear the custom with the government officials, you negotiate.
To figure out the amount of import tax to pay, you once again negotiate.  

If finally you could not afford either the time or the energy on the negotiations anymore, USD300 is the average price you pay to avoid each trial. 

Chill Out and Enjoy Some Downtime Among All the Recent Craziness

If the path of one’s life is a circle, my path is about to circle back to the origin of about a dozen years ago.

I have been trying my best to maintain my composure while going through the motions to get things done. But, it’s not easy. I have to admit. During the recent 3-4 weeks, even the sleeping pills and alcohols are not sufficient to keep me asleep for more than 5 hours at night.

Although I am sure, or almost sure, that moving back to China and taking the last opportunities to be with my grandparents is the right choice, the uncertainties associated with the change are still overwhelming. My last job change from Ariba to Symantec only required me to drive 1 mile further each way every day. Still the same house, the same local hang-outs, and the same circle of friends. But, this time, I am packing up my life here in a big container and a few suitcases and getting ready to ship everything to China in 10 days.

China versus the US, which one feels more like home to me? One is the place I was born and raised up; the other is the one where all my professional and adult life resides. I have to say, in some strange way, the US, the “boring” Sunnyvale feels more like a home for me.

However, will I never regret if I don’t spend more time with my beloved grandparents during the limited time they still have? The answer is clearly yes, I will regret. So, no whining, let’s move on.

Today, I finally feel sightly more accepted with the decision to move back. Taking a break to enjoy some downtime, reading a novel – one of my favorite – Around the World in 80 Days, drinking some wines. Chill out among all the recent craziness.

Saying Good-byes

Many ways to say good-byes to friends…

Some need a hug, some require lots of martinis, some absolutely demands rounds of wines, ….

But some need one more walk through the woods, one more holding hands in prayer, one more poking fun with each other, a faith in God to see each other again, hopefully soon.

Transition to A New Page of Life

Surreal as it could be, the transition unavoidably forces the life into a to-do list, while the daily rhythm is sadly decided upon how fast each item can be checked-off from the list.

Certainly, half of tasks are required to make the arrangements of the new life, finding a realtor to help look for a new apartment, getting reconnected with my old friends and classmates, figuring out the new routines …., Excited? Certainly not! But, I have always been this type-a woman, who can handle things and get things done, so I am handling it, except I feel like I am simply going through the motions to make sure things gets done and all the necessary tasks are not forgotten.

Unfortunately, some tasks on the to-do list demands cutting ties with the current life and saying good-byes to Santiago (my tailor), to Cindy (the nice woman who does my nails), to my running partners, to co-workers, and the worse of all, to all my dear friends.

There are times, I have to take a deep breath and pray to God that the friendship would never change in spite of the change, the distance between China and here.

Below is my friends from growth group.