Tag Archives: apartments

The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth quarter review

22 Oct

I am trying to play catch up with my blog after such a long hiatus, so the content posted in the last nine months was not up to previous standards.  That said – I was reminded by my friend Carissa at Everyday Adventures in Asia that it is not a competition and I should continue to blog for the pleasure of it.

The eleventh quarter (like the last 12 months) was one of lots of travel – I had just finished six months at my new job and was definitely in the swing of things.  Unfortunately, that meant that the time I had to blog was reduced quite dramatically – meaning that I had to cut my post schedule, but I did manage to continue, which is more than I could say for June, July and August!

Even with the reduction in posts there were some fun elements and wanted to take the time to relive a couple of my favorites.  Do you remember either of these?

  • I posted on part of our trip to Greece and taking wedding photos in front of a certain church in “Do you speak English? (A Santorini photo shoot).”  Every time I walk into my apartment I am reminded of that wonderful trip because our “money shot” has been blown up and framed on the wall above our couch.  Believe it or not, I have even more photos from Greece that never made it onto the blog – but at least I was able to give you a sense of the wonder of that honeymoon.  I would go back again in a minute!
The church and the two of us - a perfect pairing - the money shot

The church and the two of us – a perfect pairing – the money shot

  • Replacing things in the new year (part 2) – My saga regarding the main air conditioner in our apartment where I narrowly missed an electrical fire thanks to the circuit breaker flipping.
    Would you use this plug?

    Would you use this plug?

    We have continued to have to replace things in this apartment, but did decide to stay another year when our lease came up in September.  The price is right, the location good and the landlord very responsive.  That said – I will predict now that this is our last year in this place (but I’ve been known to be wrong before.)  The most recent change was we got a new refrigerator at the end of August which we used as part of our negotiations.  It is larger than our old one and does not frost over every other week, so both of us consider it a good trade-up.

The eleventh quarter also contained Chinese New Year – introducing the Year of the Horse and after the official holiday we did slip off for a lovely vacation, so I’ll see if I have the energy to post on that one.  Any guesses where we went?

The twelfth quarter I also managed to get a handful of posts together – though this is when my work travel really started to pick up.  I’ll be posting retroactively on some of my trips (like the Hong Kong post earlier this month) to give you a sense of where I was and what happened – so more to come, but I did want to call out this post on living in Shanghai that I posted in May:

  • Door to door service – talked about the convenience of a big city – the good and the bad.  I’ve had even more things delivered since this post – not having to carry them and getting lower prices is a strong incentive, but luckily I have not had any more visits from the police recently.

I also thought I would leave a teaser – not all my travel in the twelfth quarter was for work.  Li and I managed to slip in a trip to Bali at the end of April that was absolutely phenomenal.  Here are a couple of photos.

A temple - and beautiful blue sky

A temple – and beautiful blue sky

Exotic Indonesian fare

Exotic Indonesian fare

Finally – the thirteenth quarter when I started posting again.

My most popular post was on Taxi Roulette – trying to figure out the best way to get a taxi and get around this city.  I have downloaded a new taxi app recently and am trying it out as well.  We’ll see how the taxi situation continues to evolve here in Shanghai.  Also – as per one of the comments – I have finally seen the new gold taxis on the streets.  They look like London Black Cabs, but they are gold – and since I was in London in June, I have a pretty recent comparison.  I haven’t ridden in one yet and don’t know if they are more expensive or have any special features, so more to come.

There are a couple of posts that continue to rack up the page views – even when I wasn’t posting which I find very interesting and thought I would call them up here as well.

1) Buying a jade bangle – which I did in Hong Kong two years ago AND

2) The pineapple cake wars – my descriptions of the two main competing pineapple cakes in Taipei in the summer of 2013.

I am guessing that somehow these two posts have gotten picked up by one or more search engines and they provide a steady stream of visitors to my blog.  It was definitely strange when I came back to see that traffic had not dropped all that significantly – which could be a good thing or a bad thing!  Folks don’t tend to leave comments on those posts now though – so I really appreciate those of you who stayed with me during the hiatus and your support as I share about my jumbled life.

Now I am (kind of) up to date, so hope to be back here soon with more stories in Shanghai and looking back over the last year.

Did I miss any posts you would have put at the top of your list?

 

Baking again…

17 Jan

The Sunday before Thanksgiving my oven died.  I had only been in this apartment a couple of months at that point, but had already made a birthday cake, two attempts at apple pie, muffins, brownies and a baked macaroni and cheese.  That fateful Sunday I was preheating the oven for another batch of muffins when all of a sudden there was a black poof of smoke that came from the top of the oven door and a strong smell of gas.

I turned it off immediately.

What with I had just had the issue with the hot water heater, I decided to wait a couple of days before calling my landlord.

Then, when I got around to it – he was on a business trip.  My landlord is pretty responsible and he wanted to be there when the repairman came, just to make sure everything was fair and above board.

By the time we had coordinated a time with the repairman and the landlord it was already December.

I had never seen an oven installed (or rather, “uninstalled”) previously.  Between the two of them, they slid it out and started looking for the problem.  After a couple of minutes it was obvious to us all – the wires that delivered the heat had shorted out and it was very good that I had turned it off after the “poof.”

The issue - something to do with the wiring (see the small hole in the insulation?

The issue – something to do with the wiring (see the small hole in the insulation?

The oven - on the floor!

The oven – on the floor!

That part required a special order and another couple of weeks of waiting.  The oven was fixed two Sundays before Christmas but at that point I didn’t have time to bake as I was preparing for my trip back to the US.  Still not baking…

But – I finally tried it out again with a lovely batch of corn muffins and it is working great.  In addition I baked pork chops with tomatoes and lemons.  According to my oven thermometer, the temperature still may be a little lower than the control panel, but I’m in business again!

Luscious corn muffins

Luscious corn muffins

What should I bake next?

Moving

16 Sep

Uggh.

How did I collect so many things over the last five years?

Moving is cathartic.  You clean out and throw away and repackage.

And it is a huge mess – you can’t find your shoes or something breaks or …

I am very much in the middle of a move – the apartment search that I wrote about was finally successful and I now have the keys (and just a couple of days) to move things from one building in my complex to another.

The apartment is just a little bit smaller (but with higher rent) and a slightly different layout, different furniture…

Packing though is a headache.  I have fortunately found a couple of things that have brought back good memories as I have packed to help ease the pain.

Yes – this was in my desk drawer- more than two years later!

Here is a shot of a ticket to the Shanghai Expo back in 2010 (I threw the ticket away after I took this photo – likely won’t be very useful for me anymore).  To accompany it here is a picture of my brother at the expo during his visit then.  I can’t believe that was two years ago!

My brother with the iconic Chinese pavilion back in 2010. It still exists and I think has been turned into a museum.

Going even further back here is a pair of socks (clean) that I was given on a flight on Philippine airlines.  Back in 2009 when going on my first business trip to Singapore I flew from Hawaii to Singapore (via Manila).  I had already made my travel plans when told I needed to go to a regional training.  That was a great trip to Hawaii with a very good friend and I’m guessing the socks were a result of that trip.

Socks… and a very nice Philippine Airlines bag

After I am moved in – I’ll take some photos to share the new apartment.  For the time being I’ll keep the disaster zone to myself.  I may be a little late on posting this week as I’m still trying to figure out the internet in the new place.

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) part of moving?

The great apartment hunt

28 Aug

At the beginning of August, I told my landlady that I would like to renew the lease on my apartment.  I’ve done the same thing each of the last three years.  This time, she didn’t answer my email.  I waited a week and sent a reminder.  Two days later she gave me a call.

Photo taken shortly after I moved in after my housewarming party in November of 2008

I don’t talk to my landlady very often.  When the faucet broke, when I needed to repair a hole in the wall – maybe half a dozen times over the last four years.  I knew something was up.

She told me that she and her husband had decided to sell the apartment and that while she was happy to have me to continue to live there until that point, she didn’t feel comfortable signing a new lease – it would have to be month to month.  We discussed it for a while and I hung up realizing that I would need to start looking for another place – even though I have no idea how long it will take to sell, as soon as it goes on the market each day there will be agents and people wanting to come see – and all of my things are in the apartment.

I like my complex a lot and so my initial thought was to try to find a place in the same complex.  Li helped me look at the beginning but I finally decided to reach out to the agent who helped me find my current apartment four years ago and she agreed to meet me to start the process again.

Different types of floors and furniture

Beds (or not) – there was one place that didn’t have a bed.

Windows in different places

Some pretty interesting light fixtures.

Over a two week time period in the middle of August I saw 15 different apartments in four different complexes either in my same complex or in other neighboring areas, 4 of which I liked enough to start negotiating on.  Some of those units are above – my agent took photos to remind me of the places and I also took notes so that I could remember as well.

Prices have gone up in the last four years and I knew if I wanted to stay where I was I was looking at a 25 to 30% increase for something similar to what I have now.  I didn’t anticipate however how much much the rental market has swung in favor of landlords.  That’s when things started to turn into more of a challenge.

The first place had been rented to someone else between when I looked at it and made my offer.  Not an issue.

The second place – the owner accepted my offer, showed up for the contract signing and proceeded to get into a fight with his agent in front of me.  The owner started accusing the agent of not telling the truth and then proceeded to leave, saying he needed more time to think things through.  I never heard back from either of them.

The third place – the owner accepted my offer and we chose a time for the contract signing.  I had gone to the bank and had a huge envelope full of cash – a two month deposit and the first month rent.  My agent and I were in the lobby reviewing the contract one last time and 10 minutes before the owner sent my agent a text message saying that she no longer wanted to rent the apartment.

At that point I started crying.

Moving is a pain and I know that I am a desirable renter.  I travel a lot, I have no children, no pets, I have a stable job and keep my house neat and tidy.  The way that the payment works is that after the initial my employer will actually then pay the landlord for me and deduct it from my paycheck, so it’s as hassle free as it gets.

My agent is a woman a few years younger than my mom who zips around between appointments on an electric scooter – you could tell that she wasn’t quite sure what to do.  She started comforting me saying that she would make it her mission to find me an apartment but she would need a day or two to line up more properties.  There was nothing I could do at that point, so I went home.

Two days later she gave me a call saying that one of the other properties I had looked at previously but the price had been too high, she thought the owner may negotiate more.  I gave her the go ahead to try for my price point.  Last week she gave me a call saying that the owner wanted to meet me – face to face – not a contract signing, just a meeting.

We arranged a time and I met him and now I’m waiting for his reply.  I have a good feeling about this one.

I hope my apartment hunt is over, but until I have keys in my hand things could still change.

Have you ever had a hard time finding an apartment?  What’s been your strangest landlord story?  I’ll share what finally happens when I know.  Wish me luck.

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