We know this list will grow in time, especially as we grow weary of our new surroundings (as all expats do at some point or another), but here is the first installment of things we miss. (See previous entry on things we don’t miss.)
- The Internet – sigh. This one we’re learning to live with. It is painful to have download speeds of 0.1 mb/sec when we’re paying for an advertised 100 mb/sec. It is annoying to know that my family’s old ’92 Packard Bell was faster on dial-up Internet than our “high speed fibre” network is here. But it’s something. We could still be trapped behind The Great Firewall of China.
- Being able to drink tap water if we wanted – Water that comes from faucets in China is not to be ingested. Look it up if you don’t believe me, but even rinsing our toothbrushes is done with bottled water. We buy imported water to drink because of the sometimes shady business practices of Chinese bottling companies (not all, but we’re not taking any risks with the things we’ve read). This will be the topic of a longer post soon. I know you’re excited to read that. 😉
- Merchants who accept credit cards – They are so few here! Everyone wants your Chinese bank account/bank card or cash. Credit is basically nonexistent here (which I’m sure has some deeper cultural implications and says something about living within and beyond your means as a person). The two places that accept our credit cards? Sam’s Club and IKEA. We miss earning airline miles for our purchases. 😦
- Being in control of our logistics – This applies to Andy more than me, but we miss being able to just get up and go (i.e., hop in a car and get somewhere and possibly make an unscheduled stop or two along the way). We considered bicycles or e-bikes (bikes that you plug in; electric bikes that mostly look like Vespa scooters) for about half a second before deciding that the bus or a taxi is way, way safer. It’s also more cost effective. But, as if often the case, when you’re not spending money you’re spending time…
- Napkins at mealtimes – Most restaurants don’t really use napkins like we do stateside. Usually there is just a set of silverware or chopsticks with your dishes and plates and a box of what look like tissues. They are tissues. Really thin tissues. Translucent tissues. Half a ply tissues, if you will. We have tissues on our dining room table because we couldn’t find proper napkins… We think napkins are receiving a similar cultural treatment as paper towels, which are also rare, but we find it really interesting that tissues are the suggested alternative to napkins.