Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Buying A Ladder In Beijing

Here's the story of how the Balla family (well, really I) could turn buying a ladder into a half-day misadventure.

One of the more unusual (for us) ongoing projects we worked on this summer was helping a friend do some renovations on her apartment. (If you've seen our house, you know that home improvement is far from one of our strong suits!)

The catastrophic flooding revealed a significant problem of water seeping into the apartment, so our friend wanted to get up on the roof to take a look and find the root cause of all of this damage. Needing a ladder, and skeptical of the quality of the product one can find in friendly neighborhood Chinese markets, our friend directed us to a British home improvement warehouse called B&G.

This B&G place is located in a corner of Beijing, outside the 5th Ring Road, that we seldom make it to, and none of us knew the precise location. So off we went, taking the subway to the nearest exit...Or so I thought. Turns out, my estimation was many miles off, and so we jumped into a taxi and told the driver the street where we were heading.

We could have saved ourselves hours of wandering if we had been more observant, as the taxi drove right past B&G. In fairness to ourselves and the driver, the warehouse was located back off the street and so was not in our immediate eyesight.

Eventually, a mile or so up the road, we got out of the taxi, and decided to pursue B&G on foot (we must be close!). But! A great lunch of dao shao mian and some liang cai filled our bellies up, and back out into the heat we went.

Having to decide whether to walk north or south, we settled on north. (Of course, south was the right answer!) This path took us out into the hinterlands of an industrial section of nowhere Beijing, where we wandered for well over an hour, asking every other person if they knew where the B&G is. Eventually recognizing the error in our ways, we doubled back, past the place where we had lunch, and back down the road where we had driven several hours earlier. Yes, there was a happy ending, and we suddenly found ourselves transported from the gritty streets of suburban Beijing to what could have been the Home Depot in our neighborhood back in the States. What a crazy place, this Beijing!

Of course, there was one last problem...Finding a taxi driver who would let us bring a ladder into his car. Yes, there were drivers who turned us down once they saw what we were carrying.

In the end, we all got up onto that roof, found the clogged drain, and hopefully there will be no more lou shui (water leaking in front the outside). It was a straightforward mission, but one that turned into yet another lesson in patience and perseverance for Julie and Z (and me!).



Post a Comment

<< Home