We live on Octopus Street

Our move is over. I wish I could’ve written about it sooner, but… well it’s the middle of the semester and I’ve got way too much going on. (More on that later.)

Andy was a lifesaver. The last week of March was a teaching week for me, meaning I absolutely could not carve out any time to help pack or move beyond what time I was already available (which isn’t much, to be honest). So he coordinated with the landlord and the people at the old apartment to get a moving truck (and a driver since we don’t drive here!). He schlepped several loads of giant suitcases full of our belongings across the city. He cleaned much of our old apartment and much of our new apartment. I felt terrible that I couldn’t help more. Our move wouldn’t have happened (or been as successful) if it wasn’t for all his hard work.

Once when Andy was showing a taxi driver the address for our new place, he translated the Chinese our landlord gave us just to see what it said. He noticed that somewhere in the directions it said “Octopus Street.” We had a good giggle about that and let it go. Then yesterday Andy brought it up again. “We *live* on Octopus Street,” he said. We both laughed out loud. 😀

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Bada Jie: Octopus Street.

(And before anyone asks… no, I cannot yet tell you how to get to Octopus Street. I’m working on that. Sesame Street, on the other hand… 😉 )

But seriously: we live on Octopus Street. North Octopus Street, actually. That’s what the characters on our street sign translate to and my Chinese friend confirmed the translation for me today. Our street is Bada Jie (八达街), and ba (八) means the number eight… so bada (八达) means octopus! 🙂 (If you’re reading this, Dennis Jerz, you should know that my mind instantly went to considering what “hectopus” would be in Chinese!)

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I took this at the local sushi place tonight in honor of us living on Octopus Street.

Octopus Street is in Moon Bay, which is a newer development of Suzhou. It’s quieter. Traffic isn’t as crazy as in LiGongDi, our old neighborhood. There are fewer people living in our new compound too, which makes for a little more privacy and a little less chaos (especially in the mornings).

Our new apartment is nice. It’s brand new, but it’s Chinese brand new… meaning there are quirks that would be considered “unfinished” in the U.S. Living here has given me a new appreciation for construction quality and craftsmanship. I mean, I know this stuff is hard work, but when the Chinese have to build things so rapidly–whether to accommodate the population or to be below budget or on time–there is definitely some corner cutting happening!

It would be scandalous in most other place in the world to have floors that are uneven by as much as a half an inch, stainless steel bath fixtures already pitting, or sinks uncaulked and therefore leaking… Because those are a few of the charms we’re dealing with in our new place.

Outside of that, we’re adjusting to new bus routes, the new neighborhood, new restaurants, and new neighbors. It’s going okay. We’ve been occupied with loads of other stuff–personal and professional–but we’re glad we moved. There’s no subway construction here and even though it has meant we’ve had to relearn our way around our part of China, it was a good move.

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