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Home Away from Home

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Weíve been here now about ten days and weíre sort of getting used to life here. First of all weíre in an apartment rather than a hotel. Though it feels a bit cramped Ė Iíve never lived in an apartment before, always a full home- compared to our house, I think the apartment was a better choice. The building is not much to look at from the outside. Weíre one floor up a dingy, musty hallway where the floor is raw concrete and the hall window glass is partially broken. We didnít think this was going to work out when we first walked up, but the apartment inside is rather nice, quite attractive actually and cozy. Each room has a very distinct and high quality wall paper, crown molding on the ceilings, and a floor which appears to be maple stained hardwood but is actually some sort of hard rubber product simulating wood. Iím not familiar with this product, but it does look real and itís softer to walk on. It doesnít hide the floor creaks, however; there are lots of annoying floor creaks. The rooms all have Persian print carpets.

Thereís a full kitchen, (with a refrigerator, small stove, a microwave, and a tiny clothes washer machine) two bedrooms, a large living room, and a microscopic bathroom that has a shower stall. The shower stall is kind of dangerous to get in and out of. You have to climb into it, a step that is upper thigh high. I guess itís not too bad climbing in, but climbing out with wet feet is just asking for an accident. The shower head snapped at the joint the first time I used it and we told them about it. The next day, after coming back from the baby house, I noticed the shower head had been replaced. The landlord must have just come in without our permission. I guess Soviet KGB habits die hard. But nothing seems to have been taken.

The beds are small, so small that weíve decided to each take a bedroom. The mattresses frankly are not comfortable and the pillows are more throw pillows rather than sleeping pillows, at least on my bed; she may have a real pillow. I keep waking up with something achy, or a crick in the neck, a sore shoulder, a tender hip, a stiff back.

The living room is our key room, where weíve got our internet connection, a DSL line to the phone, and therefore the laptop is on the coffee table. For some reason Pussnboots's computer failed to boot up after our flight out here, so only my computer is hooked up. The coffee table also has all our useless Russian translation books scattered on it for quick reference, as well as notepads, journals, pens and pencils, map, books, DVDs, chewing gum, sunglasses, eye glass cases, remote controls, a half empty bottle of water, snack wrappers, and crumpled up tissues. Weíre not exactly keeping the living room neat. The living room has a couch and two smaller couches Ė smaller than a two person love seat but larger than a single arm chair. All three couches have this concave shape to them and really firm material. They look oriental. The living room does have an air conditioner. Itís surprisingly hot here in Shymkent, an arid California-esk type of climate. Thereís one drawback to the air conditioner: itís excessively noisy, humming like a grinding machine, after a while drilling into the brain like a Jack Hammer. So it only stays on for a limited time.

We have a nice flat screened TV on a stately stand. The TV stations are all in Russian, not a single one in English. We were told that CNN would be on in English, but we have not found it, no matter how many times we roll up the dial. Whatís funny is that many of the TV shows are actually American shows but dubbed over. The native TV sitcoms appear to be just as dumb as our American ones. There is Discovery channel, National Geographic channel, and Animal Planet channel, all of course dubbed over. There seems to be a large number of nature shows. Funny how one travels half way round the world to see a nature show on Yellowstone Park wildlife. What I truly find remarkable is that there is a sports channel that has baseball games on. And they are overdubbed in Russian. I couldnít believe I was watching a NY Mets/NY Yankee game. Thatís a big game back home. Do Russians and Kazaks actually watch and appreciate baseball? I wish I could understand the announcer. I wonder how you say curveball in Russian or home run or even something basic as a strike.

We shopped at the supermarket and try to eat two of the three meals in the apartment. We always have breakfast here. Weíll make eggs, or Iíll have toast with some local wild berry jam, and Iíll have a yogurt. Yogurt is big out here and delicious. pussnboots will usually have a hot cereal. Thereís no coffee pot, so Iíll have tea with breakfast. You would think I would drink some really great local tea, but all the local teas are unbagged, and I have no means of brewing it. I wound up getting Lipton Green tea with lemon, and itís really good. Iíve never seen this back home. Weíve make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch or just have cold cut sandwich. For dinner weíve cooked beans and rice or pasta. The can opener that came with the apartment didnít work so we had a heck of a time trying to open a can of beans. Ultimately we had to use a bottle opener and a pocket knife, punching around the can. It feels like weíre living off the land. But mostly we eat out for dinner.

Ok, here are some pictures of the place. First the kitchen.

Then the bathroom in two pictures because it was so small to get the entire thing:

This is the hallway leading to the living room:

The living room:

And the two bedrooms:

I bet you can guess which is hers and which is mine.

Finally the obstructed view we have from our living room window:

And pussnboots sitting in the kitchen trying to learn Russian:

Updated 05-26-2010 at 12:00 PM by Virgil



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  1. motherhubbard's Avatar
    that's not a bad place. do you know yet how much longer you'll be there and when little man will come home? It seems like you've been gone a lot longer than 10 days.
  2. Virgil's Avatar
    Mom-H, I think we'll be here another 6 weeks. There's a little hiccup in the original plans which will extend our stay here. I'll eventually blog about it when I have the final information. We weren't happy campers when we found out about it. But it's all for the little one.
  3. Morden's Avatar
    Fascinating, all fascinating!
    Keep writing when you can, Virgil.
  4. Niamh's Avatar
    I really like the kitchen!
    Lipton do some really nice teas. they have a forest fruits one that really tasty!
  5. 1n50mn14's Avatar
    It seems like you've been there for ages. Nice little apartment, though- you could have done a lot worse .
    Lipton has a really good chamomile, too, but I can only find it sometimes in select places.

    I rather like the teeny little bathroom- could you sit down in that shower stall to have a bath? It looks DEEP.
    Updated 05-26-2010 at 02:15 PM by 1n50mn14
  6. plainjane's Avatar
    It looks like a nice and cozy apartment Virgil, the colors are rich and beautiful. It might be worth it to invest in your own mattress though, considering the one there is causing aches and pains.

    Six weeks will go by like a flash.
  7. plainjane's Avatar
    ....I noticed the shower head had been replaced. The landlord must have just come in without our permission. I guess Soviet KGB habits die hard. But nothing seems to have been taken.
    Actually, that's pretty nice that they replaced it so fast Virgil, and at least over here, the landlord has the right to enter an rented apartment to do just that sort of thing. He probably assumed you wanted it done when you mentioned it to him.
    And too, cheer up, if he was KGB, you'd not have ever known he was there.
  8. Virgil's Avatar
    Yes Jane they may have a right, but at least with landlords I've experience they usually ask. I have to admit it was very fast, but we are probably paying a mint (given that this is short term rental) for what rent goes for out here.
  9. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    that 'shower cubicle' is a corner bath. Maybe they've removed the taps and fitted a shower over it, but it's definitely a bath. That's why it's so deep. It looks like a nice little apartment. Definitely better than staying in an hotel.
  10. Paulclem's Avatar
    It's funny how the little things become important when travelling - fascinating too.

    I missed your first couple of blogs. It's nice to see you settling in.
    Updated 05-26-2010 at 05:46 PM by Paulclem
  11. Joreads's Avatar
    Wow from the pictures it actually looks OK but you are right there realyl is no place like home. At least you are settling in - Oh and make the bed Virgil
  12. qimissung's Avatar
    It's so cute and just as you described it. I think Fifth is right about the tub. It could be worse. I watch "House Hunter's International" a lot and saw a weird tub that was even deeper and narrower than that in one Tokyo apartment.
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    Oh how did I miss all the responses?

    Morden - Thank you. There's a whole sequence of these on my adoption process and trip. You might want to look through my blog list goiing back a few months if you wish to catch up.

    Jane, Fifth, Jo, Paul and Qimi - Thanks. It is a cute little place. I did make my bed Jo. That's how pathetic I am when it comes to things like that.

    I guess it is a corner bath, but that step is awefully dangerous if you ask me. I wouldn't recommend an elderly person tackling it.
  14. Niamh's Avatar
    you can get them with little doors in them also.
  15. LitNetIsGreat's Avatar
    I hardly ever read the blogs, but I looked up yours just to see what you was doing over there; now I get it, cool. Good luck with everything.
  16. applepie's Avatar
    What a cute place. I actually love the kitchen, and I can sympathize about never having lived in an apartment. 6 more weeks? That sounds like such a long time, but like you said, it is all for the little one, and you'll be so glad to have him while he'll be glad to have such a great set of parents. Much Love, Meg
  17. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you all.

    Nealy - You might find some of my previous blogs more interesting.
  18. BienvenuJDC's Avatar
    I wish I could give you my little can opener.'re an engineer, make a coffee maker and can opener. If Tony Stark can built an Iron Man suit in a cave, surely you can produce what you need too.
  19. Janine's Avatar
    Wow, I think the appartment looks cozy. I liked it right away. I agree that the kitchen is really nice. I wish I had a kitchen like that one. I am interested in that corner bath...wonder if they have those in the US and it they come in variations. I am looking to redo my tiny bathroom and that just might work for a second floor. Are they carpets on the sofa? Wow, they really like orange there...even the walls are bright. It looks clean and nice; even though you make a sloppy bed! That is funny, what Bien wrote, about being resourceful - you being an engineer.
  20. Virgil's Avatar
    LOL, Bien. I did improvise with a pocket knife and bottle opener.

    Why is everyone picking on my bed making ability? No, Janine, that's not a carpet on the sofa but some decorative blanket. Don't know whether they have that in the US. I would imagine we have something similar, but I would not get anything you have to climb in and out of. Thanks.
    Updated 05-27-2010 at 02:44 PM by Virgil
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