The Landlord.

The lease on my apartment expires on 4th July and my landlord said he had no problem with me paying for an extra month and staying there.  The semester finishes mid July, so this would work out really well for me, and would save the hassle of moving everything as I am really busy at the moment.

However my landlord has changed his mind. 

He’s upset that I won’t be staying here (in his apartment for another year) and believes that I have tricked him.  Infact I never told him that I would stay in his apartment for another year, he assumed this himself.

I told him about 8 weeks ago that I was not going to extend the lease for another year, and he didn’t take this well.  He started to get into a frenzy about how I have ‘ruined’ his apartment and that he only bought a new washing machine because he thought I was going to continue to stay in his place.  Of course I haven’t ruined his apartment,  and he only bought a new washing machine after 3 months of hassling him to do it. 

When I viewed the apartment and signed the lease there was a washing machine, I made sure this was put into the contract, but when I came to move in the washing machine was gone.  No washing machine, he had taken it.  This schoolboy trick upset me, but he said he was going to buy a new one ‘tomorrow’ so I believed him.   He seemed like a straight man, one of those ex-army types, direct and to the point. This was a year ago, before all of my troubles and at the time I didn’t really understand how things work here. Now I know, this is a common dodge used by some Chinese – to tell someone what they want to hear, and have no intention whatsoever of following up with actions.  

Last July I foolishly agreed to give a 3000元 deposit as a cover for broken things in the apartment. This is silly money, and I should have agreed to only giving one months rent – but at the time I was desperate for somewhere to live and didn’t know any better. At the end of April I managed to negotiate this down to 900元 by giving the landlord less than he was expecting, and saying that at this time I don’t have the funds – but really because by paying in full, I would be throwing away my deposit.

Anyway, this is just one of a long list of things that have gone wrong with the apartment.  I wouldn’t care if the apartment was free, but i’m paying good money for the place and so I expect more; but this is what one can expect renting from the private sector in any place. 

Here’s a list of things that have gone wrong over the year –

Broken toilet– has a crack in it and when flushed scum seeps out onto the floor- I repaired it myself.
Gas leak – under the sink the gas pipe fractured. The handle for the shut-off valve has been removed (or probably was never fitted – costsaving measure no doubt), had to improvise with a kitchen knife – potential to destroy building.
Water Pipe burst, bathroom sink pipe exploded spraying very high pressure water everywhere (the stop cock was inside a locked cupboard outside the apartment (luckily I knew this), which I forced open with a claw hammer, destroying the door in the process!
Bed collapsed,- I sat on it one day and one of the legs snapped in two!
Wardrobe concertinaed in on itself – This is not a joke! I opened both doors and it fell apart like something from a cartoon- reminds me of this film
Drains stink – Not the landlords’ fault, they stink in all the apartments here, generally a China problem – there’s a market for u-bend pipes…
Black flies – come out of the bathroom sink, probably fly up from the cess pit below.

On the plus side, there hasn’t been a power cut here all year and I had them frequently at my old place. Also, I only recall one day when the water was off, and I remember not having running water for days at a time where I was last year.    

World Cup 世界杯

So I’ve not been getting much sleep over the last few nights, though i have been unable to keep awake for the evening games – 3am kick off – as I have to get up at 6 for work.  Next week I think i’ll do an ‘allnighter’ as england are playing in the evening. 🙂 

Chinese TV is usually pretty awful, game shows, talent contests, and ‘historical’ sitcoms from the Chinese Civil War/WW2, depicting the communists as savours.  They love their adverts too, sometimes the breaks can last for ever and with (i suspect) no laws regarding what can be advertised, they try to plug some weird stuff.  From the local hospital, to strange weight loss techniques that are nothing but a fraud (one such is a patch that one puts on the bottom of the foot, clearly a scam)  to herbal teas and medicines.  So I was expecting the football to be interrupted at the very least, but to my surprise, CCTV have done a decent job. 

The coverage is actually pretty good, all of the games are shown live (KO 9pm,midnight, 3am) and full recorded replays the following day.  They have extensive analysis, pundits etc, and seem to know what they are doing.  Most of the games are show on CCTV 5, which is the state run broadcaster’s dedicated sports channel.   Of course everything is in Chinese, which is fine, but it can get tireing after 90 mins of listening to Yue(4) Wei(4)Offside, Tou(2) qiu (2) Header and  jing (4) qiu (2) Goal!

I’m stil trying to figure a way of getting the UK commentary over the web, but as i’m outside of the  UK I need to connect through a proxy and I’m yet to find one that is reliable enough for 90mins 

Just found out how to get this  – 

rain rain rain

I think the rain season is here, the air is really damp there’s been some flash floods and the odd electrical storm. I like storms, and the storms here are great. I remember last year being caught in a storm that began with rain then moved on to hail stones. The hail became larger and more intense, I was forced to take cover, and it intensified to lumps of ice about the size of one of those large marbels that children play with. This only lasted for about 3 minutes, but it was so hard that when it stopped, the ground was white and covered with little balls. I foolishly tried put my hand out of the window to catch some of the hail, but It just bounced off my hand and hurt. If I had got caught outside, It could have caused some nasty injuries. This was a really strange experience and extremely localised (some of the students I was with said they had never seen anything like this in Changchun ) – this only affected part of the campus I was on, other parts were totally dry.


Seems that the great firewall has just become even more restrictive. Thought it might have been a temporary glitch, but for the last 3 days or so various sites that I used to have no problem surfing, suddenly became unavailable. Maybe this is only in Changchun, I’ve tried various locations, and all with the same result. 🙁

  I can’t access any google site – gmail, all now blocked. Strangely the BBC weather site (the news site has always been blocked) is now blocked yet most of the rest of the site is still okay. 

 I wonder who decides what to filter and why.  I wonder if the people doing the filtering even understand english, because if they did, they’d realise that searching for many things in english circumnavigates their filters.  And what does a weather site have to do with anything, when the  is still available.

 However the crappy heavily government censored still works. The firewall is still pretty weak though, didn’t take me more than about 30 seconds to access stuff the CCP would rather not let anyone see.  

 People talk about the firewall being the most sophisticated one in the world, but I have to say it really is pretty damn poor. Rather like the quality of most Chinese buildings, from the outside it looks okay, but when you actually get into it, it’s full of cracks and holes.   It only manages to stop the most basic of user, indeed almost all students know how to find and use a proxy address.  I often find myself asking them for a new IP addresses, as the government  blocks proxies when it finds them.    

google china


Public Transport

I like to travel on buses not just because they are the cheapest (1 yuan) ways to get around town, but because of the things that you see that you would otherwise miss-out on.
The buses in Changchun are very well used, pretty much all day running at or above capacity.
Something funny that happens very often is when I have an empty seat next to me and the bus is full – people are standing – and yet very few people will fill the empty seat next to me. It’s like I have a disease or something. Many Chinese seem to be afraid of sitting next to the foreigner, and the only people that do reguarly sit next to me are students.  bus free seat   standing on bus

I reckon there is a potential market to be exploited in starting up a bus operation from certain parts of the city, as the network is focused around several parts of town, and more importantly, bus services start to stop at 5pm – even in the summer! Hard to beleive but It’s true!  Again another example of the Chinese not understanding the basics of demand and supply – just doing things as they have always been done. 

                                    bus timetable

 There is only one major bus route that goes on past 8.30 in the evening and that only goes up and down Renmin Dajie (the central street in Changchun).  Not many can afford taxis and at 1.3 yuan a km,  I try to avoid them too.    I do use them is there is no other alternative, and often vocal Cabbies will stop at bus stops get out of their cars, and ply for trade – 2yuan to so and so, per person, 5 in a car – means they make a decent profit while satisfing the punter.

  So for a major city, there has to be a market – even if only in the summer months.   Now that the weather is hot the buses are always full to bursting with people.  Unlike the West, there’s no worries about the safety of filling a bus with standing people to the point where people have to get off the bus just to let others on.  The bus driver always lets people on even when there is no space – i dread to think what would happen if there was a serious accident.