Our next stop is Hefei, China where all Cissg’s family is located. We spent a good 2 weeks in Hefei, the capital city of AnHui Province.
Anhui is located adjacent to Shanghai, and is considered as Southern China. It took us nearly 25 hours of flight time and transit to get to Anhui, as we flew from Sibu-KLIA-Beijing-Anhui and our transit time in KLIA was approximately 10 hours. We arrived in KLIA just after noon and the flight to Beijing was after 11pm at night. When we reached Beijing Airport at around 6am, it was freezing cold, with the temperature being -15c degrees. Both of us wore only a t-shirt and we promptly put on our jacket but I still got sick after that.
After transiting for two hours, we approached our boarding gate. To our surprise, there was a bus at the boarding gate and we were told the bus would take us to our plane on the tarmac. The bus had no heater and the windows were all opened and we spent the next 15 minutes shivering in the cold while waiting for the rest of the passengers to arrive.
It was just under 1 degrees when we arrived in Hefei Airport, which is still acceptable. We couldn’t find our luggage and it turned out the luggages were left in Beijing Airport. Luckily the customer service officers at the airport were friendly enough, helping us arranging the luggage to be sent here as soon as possible and delivered to Cissg’s home.
When we got out of the luggage area we were greeted by Cissg’s family. Her mom and grandma, together with her two uncles have all came to welcome her back. Her family were delighted to meet me and were very nice to me, but I still endured quite a few days of ‘interrogations’ from her family members. I supposed they are really curious about me and wanted to know me better. In the end, I think I have passed the test.
Cissg’s place is located in a new community. It is slightly different than the apartments in Australia as the community has around 15 apartment blocks, each at 30 odd storeys high. The community is fenced and security guards are present at all times. Brilliant landscapes and gardens separate these concrete skyscrapers. Outside of the community fence there are rows of commercial shops ranging from grocery, restaurants, cafes, pharmacies and even dry-cleaners.
Her family also has a little dog called Ben Ben. Ben Ben is extremely clever and well mannered, she doesn’t even require any leash when we take her out for a walk.
We also took the chance to visit Jinan, in Shandong Province, where Cissg used to study uni and got her first job. We took the bullet train service there. I had tried to convince Cissg to buy business class seats for once for me to try it out but she ignored me. Eventually we bought second class tickets and to be honest it was not as bad as I expected, with the service being really nice and seats are actually quite comfortable. The bullet train can go up to 301km/h. We also tried the famous bullet train box meal, it was delicious and the portion was really big, though quite pricey at the price of 60RMB.
Over there we stayed at her best friend 二星’s place. The difference between apartment buildings between Hefei and Jinan is that Jinan’s apartments have heaters that runs throughout the building to keep the average temperature indoors at 22 degrees. Cissg explained to me that such heater services is included in building management fee and is provided 24/7 throughout winter. However one can only find such service north of China, therefore not including Hefei.
Our two day trip in Jinan was really enjoying. The sky was clear and we were told that we reached on the right time as there had been some haze in Jinan a couple of days before. Cissg was extremely excited to be back, finally meeting her close friends. 二星 had been anticipating our arrival and she took us around Jinan to eat a lot of delicious food. （￣︶￣）↗
On the last night before we came back to Hefei, Cissg’s former colleagues and us got together for dinner and continued to play card games until midnight. Cissg has been dreading about the card games months before we got back to China but none of our friends in Adelaide knew how to play that game.
I think the cost of living in China is quite high. Initially I thought Hefei being a 3rd tier city, eating out and shopping won’t be too high, but I was wrong. I admit, eating in restaurants here is really enjoying and memorable. However the bill after the food can be a shock too, with dishes easily exceeding 100RMB and often a 4 person dinner can reach up to 800RMB. Nevertheless, her family members and friends have been really generous, often taking us out for dinner and giving us plenty of opportunity to try out really amazing food during our stay in Hefei.
Our trip is focused on mainly tasting new foods from different places. Cissg took me to try some of her dreamed local cuisines. I know she is particularly fond of some spicy Chinese food as I get bombarded with her “I want to eat 麻辣烫!!!” on a daily basis.︽⊙＿⊙︽
Unfortunately the city we live in Australia doesn’t have many Chinese restaurants that she adore. I’m not really into her type of taste which basically is spicy. It was regrettable that we didn’t have enough time to try out all the foods on her list. We decide to pick the next summer to return to China again. “I’ll let you see see the real small lobster and eat 到吐~”
Shopping malls here are really massive, but they are not cheap either. We walked into Boy London and Cissg picked up a cap for me, when we asked for the price we were told it is 780RMB. In another store I happened to check on a Timberland boot and the price tag is 1600RMB. I admit even if I convert back to AUD it is still quite pricey, let alone these locals who typically earns 5-6k RMB a month.
I feel that IT in China is much more advanced than in Australia. A lot of shops actually accepts online app transfers, instead of the traditional card or bank transfer. Wechat pay and Alipay from Taobao can be used to do almost everything, including paying bills, taxi, and shopping, with even the smallest food stalls along the ally accepts such payment. Cissg’s best friend even joked that these days she doesn’t need to bring her wallet out as she uses her phone to pay everything.
The Chinese buys a lot of things online, therefore their online shopping services is very advanced as well. In most instance your parcel will often be dispatched on the same day, reaching your door step the very next day. The logistic on these parcel deliveries appears to be quite effective, maybe due to the fact labour cost in Asia is not as high as Western countries. I noticed a locker system next to the community service centre, where if you’re not available when the parcel arrives the delivery man will just put your parcel into these locker and give you a designated password to open the locker when you arrive home.
To be honest two weeks in China is really short, I suppose all holidays are short no matter how long the duration is. We have decided that we will come back to China again next summer to experience a different lifestyle. Bye for now, Hefei!