This week’s post might not seem too intriguing at first, but stick with me and I think you’ll learn something.
We are delving into...my purse, specifically what’s inside. My purse is a bit of a survival bag. I have the usual things, a wallet, a bit of makeup, my cell phone, etc. but there are a few additional items that make life here in China a bit easier.
You’ll notice my ring of taxi cards, which I carry with me at all times to communicate with my driver and the local taxi drivers. I also have my own business card holder to put in the ming pians (business cards) that I pick up at my favorite stores, shops, and restaurants.
The small silver bag on top of my purse holds the copies of my passport and the girls. At any time foreign passport holders can be asked to produce their passports, so friends suggested that we carry copies with us. On a side note, we had a knock on the apartment door a few Sundays ago and I opened the door to two uniformed men. They were very nice and polite (but did not state who they were) and asked if I was the woman listed on the form they were carrying and if the names below mine were those of my children. Then I had to provide my cell phone number and that was it. Later, after asking some friends, I figured out that it was the residency police and they will probably stop by again.
I carry my Vera Bradley small ID wallet with me because carries the card that allows me to enter my building and get up to my apartment. I don’t want to leave home without it!
The red badge on the lanyard peeking out from behind my calendar is my security badge for LBean’s school. As parents, we are provided badges at the beginning of the year and asked to wear them anytime we’re in the school.
The little clear pouch is my travel doctor’s kit! It has anything that I might need in a small emergency. I also tuck in a handkerchief because more times then not, there are no paper towels in the bathroom. Usually there isn’t toilet paper in the bathroom either, so I carry extra paper with me. I’ll try to be delicate, but the toilets here are a bit different. Our family is used to Western toilets or as we like to call them, “sitters”. The Chinese use toilets that we have named, “squatty potties”. Basically the toilet is flush (sorry, no pun intended) with the ground and you must “squat” down. It is a porcelain bowl, but mounted in the ground. Some expats (expatriates) go months without using a squatty potty, but with the girls that wasn’t an option, so we have embraced it (figuratively speaking) and done our best. The plumbing infrastructure here isn’t fantastic, which explains the lack of TP in the restrooms. You don’t flush paper here!
I also carry a reusable shopping bag with me at all times. Plastic bags at store checkouts cost money, if they’re even available at all. You never know when you might do a little shopping.
Other staples in my purse are germ gel (hand sanitizer) because, well, things can be a bit dirty and, as the mother of a potty-training toddler, I carry an extra outfit for EBean.
I have a quick note about cell phones here. First, they are cheap, and everyone has one. They are prepay, so if you don’t keep reloading the minutes on your phone you’re out of luck, which happened to me this week. Secondly, there is no voice mail in China. For that reason, most people are huge texters. Not only is it cheaper than a phone call, but it’s the only way to contact someone and “leave a message” for them to read later if needed.
Now, after carrying all of this around China, I do treat myself to massages. My purse gets heavy! Happy Wednesday!