When we arrived at our apartments, we were each given 7,055 yuan (a little over $1,000) for spending money until we get our first paycheck in two weeks. They really are taking good care of us. So, yesterday was a shopping day to get anything we needed for our apartments. First, we got breakfast at an American-owned restaurant called "Steak and Eggs". Breakfast also gave us a chance to get to know some of the other new hires and greet our administrators again.
After breakfast, we headed over to IKEA. We had two and a half hours to do all our shopping at IKEA and an electronics store and get back on the bus. It was like Supermarket Sweep. I ended up filling my cart and after putting it all into bags, needed two carts for all my IKEA stuff. I spent a little less than half my money there. After unloading our IKEA stuff, we headed over to the electronics store.
At the electronics store, you found the item you wanted and told an employee who wrote you up a receipt. This was made a little more complicated since there was only one employee in the store who spoke any English. He was a busy guy when all our 20-something new hires descended on his store! One new hire kept being given a time-out sign from an employee. It was great. After you got your receipts for everything you wanted to buy, you took your stack of receipts over to a counter where two girls were working and about a dozen were sitting, having lunch, and watching. The girl at the counter rang you up and you paid. Next, you had to take your receipts back to each place where you got them and the person would then give you what you purchased. We didn't all make it back to the bus on time. I spent about $100 at this store on a cell phone, iron, converter, and hair dryer.
After the shopping, we were brought back to our apartments and were free the rest of the day. We (Brian, George, and I) got some beers and lunch and then decided to go swimming. We lasted seconds in the freezing water and decided to go exploring instead. The school had given us a Taxi Book, which is about the size of a deck of cards and has places all over Beijing listed. The idea is to show the taxi driver where you want to go and they can read the Chinese and take you there. We wanted to go to a market of some sort, the guys wanted to eat something off a stick. We pointed and after first being taking to the grocery store, we made it to a market area. Not exactly what we were looking for, but the guys did eat some kind of meat kabob. We had dinner at a restaurant and then came home.
This is a pretty long post but I'm sure Mom and others will like reading about what I did. Also, I couldn't go back to sleep so this kept me occupied. Today we do more shopping (groceries, bikes, and computer stuff) and then we might try going down to the Olympic Green and checking out what's going on there. I'll get some pictures up today or tomorrow.