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Air Pollution

The pollution is taking its toll. I feel like I’m surrounded by a bubble of energy-sapping air. That’s probably the best way to describe it. Walking along a main road yesterday (trying to find somewhere. Found it after ¾ hr), was typical. The noise is unceasing, and the pollution is really bad, too. You find yourself breathing much more rapidly, in an attempt to get more oxygen into your system. But that also brings in the pollution. Overpasses are particularly bad.

It rains every so often, and is perpetually overcast at present. I like the overcast bit, but have discovered that neither of my shoes are as waterproof as I would like them to be. ) At time of writing mid-afternoon, the skyline looks like it’s 6pm at night, because of all the greyness of the buildings and the pollution and the overcast sky. It really, really smells near the streets. Here’s a joke: Q: How do you know if someone’s farted? A: the air smells fresher. It’s generally manageable, but at times gets to be too much.


Here’s an article here about NASA mapping of world Carbon Monixide levels as an indicator of air pollution levels. The animation at the end is interesting.

*cough, cough*

The pollution is thick here in Shenzhen. Gail & I have both had light-headedness and dizzy spells every day during the first week we’ve been here, really kicking in on Friday afternoon after we’d been here for 1 1/2 days. We headed out to the Walmart in the Nanshan District on Sunday (out West, 25 mins by subway) where there are a lot more trees and coastline and we instantly could breathe easier. Generally after going out somewhere we come home feeling gritty and grimy. It’s hard to discern between what’s a throat infection and what’s just a bit of pollution on the lungs. I’m finding myself being a whole lot more rigorous about washing hands and keeping clean. Any trip out of the house results in some interesting smells on both hands and clothing. Having the Chinese people spitting everywhere has made our apartment a shoes-off zone. At least being up on the 24th floor gets us away from the smog at ground level.

Ta dah!

Our boxes of stuff that we sent from Australia arrived yesterday. Yay! The DHL man was even kind enough to let us get a snap of him.

Boxes Arrive     Boxes Arrive
The large Clipsal box holds all the associated bits that go with my laptop such as desk stand, docking cradle, keyboard, etc. I had taken the laptop and case with me when we travelled earlier. It’s kinda odd that something as portable as a laptop has so much other stuff associated with it, don’t you think?

Inside our boxes was revealed all kinds of goodies like favourite books, photos of family & friends, Gail’s cross-stitch and more clothes/shoes. It was a veritable treasure trove of some of our valued posessions and going through the 2 boxes brought back lots of wonderful memories.

It was a fascinating exercise working out what to take to China and what to leave. It also goes to show that we have lots of things in Australia that we don’t actually need. When everything we really wanted can be packed into 2 suitcases and 2 small boxes, and that makes us happy, then I’m encouraged to think about how much simpler and better our lives could really be.

Sorry, non comprehendi

We spend much time trying to find things, and trying to get taxi drivers to understand where we want to go. Written English doesn’t help. It’s an absolute pain in the arse, you feel like you’re getting nowhere, and taking all day to do it. And once you have actually done something, you’re so buggered that all you can do is go back to the apartment and rest. Did I mention the frustration? We are learning so much as well, even though we probably don’t realise it, and getting very tired. Crashing into bed exhausted every night so far. Our bodies are still on Adelaide time, so even though we’re going to bed and getting up SZ time, our bodies think it’s midnight, and so are tired the next day. Blooming body clocks. Jan, I laughed heartily at your suggestion of walking outside, even to work. I have two words for you: pollution and taxis. No-one is safe. It’s very noisy too. Our apartment is right in the centre, so we can see both the edges of the city on the border and the mountains (well, at least where the high-rises stop, which is the edge of the city). This means that there are many taxis and busses and traffic right by our apartment from early to late at night. We’ll probably get used to it shortly, and recently have been so tired that something like that won’t stop us getting to sleep, but are still adjusting a bit. Especially with the really low reverberations of some of the traffic being very tiresome. Low revs start sometime in the morning to about 9am, and begin again at 3:30pm to when we drop off to sleep.

TV or not TV

Regarding TV, apparently you can get BBC, CCN and Discovery channels, and they’re quite worth having, even though you pay extra for them. If we don’t have something like that, it’s really not worth having tv at all. Of the two tv channels that are accessable, one is ‘China news’ in English, and from it you could reasonably discern that China is the only nation doing anything of importance on the Earth. More about that later…

We’ve bought 2 DVDs so far; actual genuine legal Chinese ones. One of them is a flip-disk; it’s double sided, so halfway during the movie the screen goes black, and a hand comes on with a disk in it, and the disk rotates from one side to the other side to indicate that you need to turn the disk. Andrew did a fantastic job changing the languages to
English (they were recorded English movies), given there were many menus, and they were all in Chinese.


We constantly need to remember to be even more gracious with each other at present; what with everything that’s new and different around us, and patience can become frayed at the edges. Quite frequently during the day, actually. Especially when we’re tired and hungry and have had lots of difficulties. I’m in the process of developing a ‘pollution-communication-patience’ theory. At least they’re all mathematically related. Often rationality goes out the window, too. A few ‘home’ things are really important now, eg Andrew found some Milo at the shop, and though it was a bit expensive, we got it anyway; it’s a reminder of home, and makes things feel more normal. And it’s been the same with some things that I’ve wanted too. We would tell you in detail what some things cost, only the receipts are in Chinese. )

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