Saturday, December 27, 2008 ;
The news said that Tianjin has the coldest weather and most snow in 50 years?
Wow, and we had the privilege of experiencing it in our first winter here, without our boxes here yet!
If not for H's loan and give-aways of jackets, beanies, hats, gloves, scarves, comforters etc etc, we would have frozen to death huh!
When I packed all our winter clothing, including a lot of my favorite sweaters, jackets and stuff into the boxes in Utah in March this year, I had full confidence that I would get the winter stuff in time to wash/ dry clean them in time for winter.
Anyway, here are some pics around our estate. Since I have the boys with me 24/7, I can't possibly be cooped in the house the whole day. I gotta take them out and let them burn off the endless energy housed in their tiny bodies.
I don't feel like playing in the snow with them here, don't know why at first. My instinct? But see the next post, and I was mighty glad I have an instinct.
So i just snapped pics and followed them around wherever they ran to.
Saw that the strong winds caused quite a lot of damage to some temporary things, including this half-completed building. The straw linings (?) are all falling off.
My ayi still tried to ride on her bicycle here, but after a day of witnessing many people fall off the bikes and getting seriously hurt in many accidents, she decided to switch to taking the public bus. It got her son very very late for school though, cos of the road conditions.
I mentioned how ill-prepared they are for snow here, and how handicapped many businesses are now. We all thought they were inefficient, but turns out, they never expected this since it is the worst case in 50 years, so they don't have the necessary equipment and stuff to clear the snow and help people get to work or school in time and safely.
The whole week, since Mon, the ayi has been telling me of accidents she saw along the way. Cars, buses, taxis, bicycles, people...
On Wed, she resumed riding her bicycle cos the bus was taking her hours to wait for, and finally get on, to wait longer during the slow journey. (She now works just 2hrs for me so she can get home in time, was thinking of asking her not to come instead but she works for another Korean family near me in the morning, so she says she has to come anyway.) Then her bicycle got spoilt somehow. She said she half pushed her bicycle at points where ice and snow hampered the bike's progress, and then half rode it. Then suddenly the battery failed. She tried to pedal after that but got very tired soon after.
So on Thurs, she sent it for servicing, and today she had the day off. She says she is handicapped without the bicycle, and her poor son has to rely on the unreliable buses to get to school and home. (Xmas not a holiday here, school as usual.)
As for Dh, he also couldn't catch a cab this week, he waited for 45 min, then decided to take a bus, walked to the bus interchange, found no buses operating there! In the big interchange! So walked back out. Finally he called a contact who drove a taxi. Fortunately that contact could come pick him up to get to work. After that, he always fixed a time with this cabbie, cos he's so afraid he cannot rush out his work before we go back to Spore.
He's been returning very late too. Transport always a problem this week.
Thankfully the kids' school has the hols now. They are oblivious to all the troubles others are having this week, and just blissfully enjoying their snow.
Here they climbed onto all the ledges in the park within our estate.
And they spied someone else's Snow Mound Man. Quite cute, with pebbles for eyes. Not enough snow to build a snowman by this day, I guess. It was taken on Xmas day.
Then, I can't help noticing how blue the skies are, cos the snow probably cleaned the air well. Thankful for the snow! But when I watch the ever-working factories beside our estate, I know the blue sky days are very precious. Soon they'll be grey again. Better take more pics.
The kids are still fascinated with police men, security guards etc. In Spore, when my bro in law (sis's hubby) comes home from work, they always ask him what all his badges are for (he works for SAF).
We often see the guards in our estate marching together, and the kids are very curious and always stop to watch them. Today, they marched and stopped right where the kids were playing, and since I had my camera in my hand, I asked the kids if they wanted to take pics with Mr Policeman (aka 保安 or 公安 here). They said yes!
So I asked them. They were all smiling and nice. I guess it adds a little more spice and interest into their marching rounds.
I got used to them marching around already, but when I first arrived, I kept thinking how funny the security guards in the condominiums in Spore will be, if they followed the same practice of marching around the estate together.
Along the main roads, very diligent and responsible policemen and guards will patrol all the time too. Manpower is not a problem here, so there are a lot of such people helping us keep law and order. I do feel safe seeing them everywhere around this area.
At least these have each other. I have seen so many solitary ones, standing guard at a fixed post. They cannot move, and have to stand ramrod straight. Even in this weather! I cannot help but remark to H, as we passed one of them one day, how bored to tears he must be! So H told me, everytime she pass by, she will wave to him. I usually do that too, and I get the kids to shout, "你好！" to them. So now I know, probably they get a lot of greetings from us.
Another interesting thing is their myriad collection of uniforms and hats. In Spore, it is boring cos uniformed officers have the same old thing to wear the whole year. Over here, they keep changing when the season change. I think I love the winter one best. Don't you just love that Russian-style furry hat?
And their coat sure looks very warm.
When we first arrived in summer, they wore short sleeves and pants. Normal cap.
In fall, they switched to long sleeves with pants. Normal cap.
In cooler fall, early winter, they wore a short jacket, like a blazer, with buttons and badges. The hat looked thicker, but not this furry. The pants looked thicker.
Now, they are in full length overcoat, furry hat, so lovely.
Forgot to list 2 other things I am thankful to them for:
1. Opening the locked gate (to my block) for me whenever I forget to bring my card. hee. Sometimes they are not patrolling around the gate, and I have to get ds to climb over to press the button inside. Or, I climb over if I am alone. I always look around a few times to make sure no one sees me (cos the gate is quite high and will make me lose my regal poise in the attempt to scale it, 失态。）
2. The cabs are outside the estate, remember? Very far for me to walk out, so when I have lots to carry, are stuck with 2 slowly strolling kids and am in a rush, I will call a cab. How? These guards have walkie talkies. They relay message. I call the main guard post, they send a cab in. The guard right at my block area will signal to me as to where the cab is waiting. Nice.
No extra booking cab fee like in Spore. And the nice cabbies always start the meter rolling after I settle all the kids and myself.
You may not be able to see, but that's ds1 and ds2 in front of him (blocked). In front of ds2 is an ayi hired by the estate to hack up all the ice on the ground. Manual labour is cheaper here, than using equipment. I look back, and then in front. I wonder how long she took to clear the path we just walked on. I thanked her as I passed and asked the kids to greet her too. Man, she would need the whole day just to do one path. I did the short driveway in Utah and my arms ached like crazy already.
The blues skies, the beautiful bare tree branches.
Look closely, what do you see? I asked the boys, what are they? They said, "Hornet nests? Bee Hives? Bird nests?" I don't know. Nests, maybe? But the last time I was asked by my NIE honors course lecturer (he lectured me on Urban Landscaping and Horticulture I think), I said nest, and he said it's mistletoe. So I don't know. This lecturer often delighted in asking me Qs he expected I would answer wrongly. But I guess we remember them because of this.
This is called "tipping the equilibrium"? Remember Prof Yeoh lecturing us on teaching science to students. Must keep them constantly excited and attentive in class by upsetting the equilibrium in their minds. I don't know if I recall the correct terms, but basically, introduce activities and events that'd surprise them. If they are always presented with the expected, they will not be so interested to learn more.
In this instance, the kids didn't need my answer, so I left it at that and quickened my pace to catch up with both of them running on their way. (Sarah maybe you can help? :-))
Got a picture of the ayi's bike finally. Wanted to show the interesting attachment to the handlebars that most bike owners install when winter comes.
She wear gloves already and when riding, slips her gloved hands into the fleece-lined attachments. Keeps the hands lovely and warm while riding long distances.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow