Susan Bradley, blog author
Susan Bradley

After flying for 14 hours on a plane from the USA to China I had to powder my nose in the worst way! I know you can relate, and my first impression of China was through this experience. I began my journey in 2016 in Zhengzhou, Henan province. The airport was brand spanking new and h-u-g-e with lots of gray, gray walls, a gray marble-ish floor that echoed as my ankle boot heels clicked along the way to the ladies room. The ladies room was also rather large, also gray, with aisles upon aisles of toilets on a raised level, my introduction to the squatty potty, sans the toilet paper, but very clean.

This is most of China, not squatty potties. I mean, yes in public places the loo is a squatty potty. I am referring to the size and newness and what feels like a plan in cities for many people to come and fill them. You will see this with the construction as the population in China is huge and growing and cities are planning by building, including transportation means.

I want to write about being new in a city and a country and to share how I find my way around and what feels important to me when I am new to a city. Having moved frequently in my life, I have a very workable plan on what works for me in settling into a new place.

First, I like a bevvie at the ready for while I am cleaning, for when I wake, or return home from exploring. I like to really see what's what in my new digs by doing a good first cleaning. Straightaway I find the local market where I can buy tea and coffee, maybe wine and spirits (in my case gin with soda and lemon), and cleaning supplies. Making my way on foot and then back by taxi, I make mental notes, sometimes saving locations on my phone, of places I will want to explore at another time.

Oft times, on the initial foray out n' about, I will see a coffee shop and a bakery that I will want to visit. I like to find the local baker, even on short visits. Bakers have heart and put so much of themselves in the yummy goods they make. They are also reliable sources for other food stuffs that I want to find in the future. Finding the local coffee shop is nice as they usually have wifi which means a good place to sit and write. The locals in the neighborhood will frequent this shop and it's a good way to get a feel for my community.

Next, I find my way to work. I first walk to work, then taxi home. On this path I keep my eyes open for many businesses: eateries that are packed (which tells me that locals like it, so it must be good). I also keep a look-out for a dry cleaner, so convenient to drop off and pick up on the way to or from work. I am keen to find small stationary stores. On these walkabouts, I look for beauty shops for a mani-pedi, and for getting a trim and a shampoo. I have pets, so I keep an eye open for the local vet clinic and take a minute to pop-in and get a feel for the place and the docs. I also look for a local pharmacy that I may need to visit.

In China, I locate the farmer market in each neighborhood. I will find all manner of fruit and vegetable, stalls with sauces, vinegars, and dry goods. There are butchers and seafood sellers, too. I can find fresh noodles and wraps, a huge variety of eggs, nuts, dried beans, etc. I also get to mingle with my neighbors. The markets are open often all day, with busy hours from 6:00 am - 8:00 am, during the lunch hour, and early evening from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm.

This all begins as a sort of concentric circle way of discovering my new city; I start with small circles around my flat. Then a small circle around where I work. The circles get bigger, as the area around these two pinpoints become more familiar. I've begun to find my way around my new city, it feels friendlier. This always works for me and if I get lost, I usually can find a familiar landmark and find my way home or stop and have a cuppa while I get my bearings again. #LivinaDreaminChina❤️

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