Thursday, August 21, 2008 ;
10:18 PM
1. Something new we learnt today.

We have to "just do it".

Case example:
We took a cab to Home Depot/ Home World nearby this afternoon, to get ourselves an ironing board, some shelving units, kitchen cleaning aids and other smaller misc items.

We brought ds2 out in the stroller cos it was around his naptime.

After paying for the items, we rolled out shopping trolley out to the taxi queue where there was a line of taxis waiting for us. The 1st driver took a look at our ironing board (longest item, albeit flat one), 2 shorter boxes of shelves, a mop, the stroller with a sleeping ds2 and our "large-sized" family, and told us flatly that his cab won't be able to take us.

We told him that the ironing board can go into the back seat with us, the rest of the items can fit comfortably in his boot. (Come on, we'd done such packing of items countless times in Spore and USA, at Home Depot or at Ikea).

He still refused, and was pretty rude. We turned to the next driver in line, who also agreed with the 1st one and said, no way. We won't have any space to sit if we put the ironing board in the back seat. The thing is, why?? Me, ds1 and ds2 in back seat, dh in front seat. Ironing board is so flat, it'll rest comfortably at our feet.

Dh said in Chinese, "Shi shi kan ba" (let's try it).

The 1st one rudely and flatly refused, asking us to try anyone else, they'd all agree with him.

What choice do we have? We know they want us to split cabs, so both can earn more. But Dh is willing to pay more if they really think they are so inconvenienced.

We just decided, don't care, just do it.

So Dh carried ds2 up from the stroller. He was still asleep. I folded up the stroller and indicated to the 2nd driver to open up the boot. He did. He's probably more of a puppet than the 1st one, so he was willing to let us try? The first driver was obviously the instigator.

Then me and kids went into the cab's rear seats. Dh tried to fit ironing board into boot, cannot, so he slotted it easily into the back seat with us. It had sooooo much space left! We bought the cheapest ironing board in Home Depot lor, of course it is not the big bulky type. There was still so much room for our legs!

The rest of the smaller boxes and items fit easily into the boot.

We got back home safely, comfortably and easily.

Fortunately we didn't give in and take 2 cabs. Dh said, in China, the person who speaks the loudest will get his way. Meaning, sometimes you just have to bulldoze your way through, if you feel you are right?

Throughout the ride (only 10min), the driver was civil (probably apologetic), and when we reached, he did come out to help with the stuff.

Dh said if he had not been in cahoots with the 1st driver initially, he was prepared to tip him even more. The final trip fare was 13 rmb (S$2.15?) and Dh would've given him 20 rmb. But he gave 15 rmb instead.

Still, the guy was extremely grateful. He said thank you about 5 times, profusely.

2. Difference from USA: there is no tipping culture here. They will even refuse tips. In USA or Mexico, it is expected. If you don't or forget to tip, they will ask you for it.
In Spore, tipping is not expected, but if you tip, they'll still accept it.

The guy who delivered gallons of water to us the other day refused a tip. The people at the airport too. The guy who opened our doors and carried our stroller out for us at the Sheraton Hotel and then gave us directions to the International Clinic also refused his tip.

3. Tianjin is very good in conservation where plastic is involved. In Singapore, plastic bags have just recently been given out more conservatively. But in Tianjin, there is a total ban.

So at all supermarkets and shopping places, we bring our own reuseable bags and put our purchases within. If you forget, you pay a price for each bag. Not just on Wednesdays like in Singapore but everyday.

In Utah, as far as I know, most places will still give out plastic bags freely.

Europe and Australia is more into conservation, I think, from our last visits many years ago. Sales people were already asking us if we can do without plastic bags. Or they'll use paper bags.

4. Toilets are still not that great. I heard there has been great improvement since preparation for the Olympics began in 2000? But I have used public toilets twice, at big hypermarts and at Home World.

Both times, the stench was overwhelming, the cubicles were very wet, there was no toilet paper in sight, and there would be litter around.

No wonder Dh keeps his pee in his bladder the whole day. I was so shocked the first day he went out for work the whole day last week, came home, rushed to the toilet and peed for a really long time. He said it's his first pee in the whole day. That is very bad. We need a solution.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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