Posts Tagged ‘Utilities’

Gas and Electricty

Posted: July 27, 2011 in Life, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

I’m currently staying at an apartment of a friend while he is out of town, so I’ve had to figure out a lot of things on my own. The utilities were close to running out when I got here, it’s been quite an adventure to get things settled. Electricity is managed by the apartment complex, not by a utility company. To get power to the apartment, you have to take this mag-stripe card to the manager’s office, top it up with cash, and then insert it into a reader attached to the electricity meter in your apartment. Instead of sending you a bill every month for how much electricity you’ve used, you have to keep track of how much you’re using as you go along, otherwise it might just cut out on you. Not too much trouble if you’re simply watching TV, but the electrically powered water heater might be missed when taking a shower.

Utility Card Reader

Getting natural gas to power the stove functions in a similar fashion, with a card-reader sitting on the wall above the stove in the kitchen. However, gas isn’t managed by the apartment. Through much broken Chinese with a few English words thrown in here and there, I figured that to top up the gas card, you have to walk down the street about a mile, make two right turns, and go to a store titled (loose translation) “Utility General Store”. For 50 RMB (about 8 dollars), I bought 24 cubic meters of natural gas, enough to facilitate a family of four’s cooking for 2 months. My friend will probably find it useful, this is akin to me filling up his beer-fridge.

There aren’t any dumpsters around here to throw your garbage in, either. After watching the locals for a few days, it turns out that garbage simply goes in a plastic bag outside the front door of the building. Someone comes by to pick it up eventually.

In the days prior to getting gas at the apartment, I’ve been cooking with only electricity. Soft-boiled eggs are made in the electric kettle, and toast is prepared in the toaster oven. Sausages can be thinly sliced and heated up in the oven as well, and the hot water from the electric kettle is used to blanch my vegetables.

Electric Eggs

All Electric Meal

The alternative to cooking is to walk down to the corner market, and buy 包子 (Bao-zi, meat filled rolls) for 6 cents each. I had ten for breakfast yesterday. Going out to dinner is equally cheap, 羊肉泡沫 (Mutton stew with noodles) was $3 last night. With endless options to explore, it may be a while before I even turn on the stove.

Bao Zi, the Breakfast of Champions

Dinner for $3, what's not to like?

Advertisements