The house : the Ferrari is mine and the scooter's my ayi's
I have mentioned before that I live near Jin Qiao, the expat part of it, of course. For just down the river on the other side you actually have locals and migrant workers living in a pretty busy part of the same neighbourhood - though I am sure that prices are not the same there. I am going to check it out when I have a moment, because I just love bustling streets where people actually hang out - though of course living in them may be another thing altogether now that I am becoming more antiseptic. I have incidentally become a total addict to Dettol.
Entrance : Kimi's helmet on cupboard from Kava Kava (bag is ayi's)
Roads are wide and clean in Jin Qiao, we have Carrefour, a number of international restaurants, Food Republic, Bread Talk, trees and laowais everywhere. I am a member of an organic spa owned by a Malaysian and I shop every week at Pines - a small supermarket specialising in imported foodstuff. Taking a taxi to Jin Qiao from my house can be a pain though - because it is not far away enough and many taxi drivers hate the hassle of getting into our compound only to earn a few yuan from us. And boy can they grumble.
My compound is probably the only one in Shanghai that is green and has birds singing all day long in the trees and bushes. Houses are very big in Shanghai, but they tend to be very close to one another. When you have lived in the middle of an enormous field like we had for 4 years in Italy, you get claustrophobic at the thought of seeing your neighbour pick his nose in the morning. And I did have a large trampoline to set up outside my house - so we jumped at the sight of our current compound and signed the contract without even visiting the inside of the house. There are no fences around the houses here, we share the green spaces.
Ground floor corridor
Entrance : Gansu old altar table, vintage wooden lunchbox
We freaked out when we saw the curtains. The previous tenants were very rich Chinese and we obviously do not share the same taste in home furnishing. Since we have this clause in our contract saying that we would accept all the existing curtains in the house, they didn't want to hear about what we thought of their curtains. Then we found out when our 52-inch plasma arrived from Italy - that they wouldn't allow us to hang it up on the wall. Because even though you pay 60000 rmb per month for the house, it is made out of wood and most of the walls are actually empty. Panique a bord as this means No space for the home cinema and we had to go on another round of furniture hunting...
Other than that I love this house. It is quite cozy and has (6) toilets that actually flush - though they do get blocked from time to time as it's Chinese plumbing after all. Only in China have you bins next to the WC for the toilet paper - which honestly is gross if you do more than pee. Anyway, the good thing about my compound is that you have an army of guys ready to turn up the minute you call - to unblock your toilets.
Family room : already a lazy bum in it
Study room : the side curtains will be removed later as just had Roman blinds installed
Because I live in a state-owned facility. I share the comfort and the privilege with the top brass of the Chinese Communist Party - though I'm always second compared to them. And not being white I am probably more 3rd class than 2nd - how often have I been mistaken for an ayi here. They wouldn't let me enter my own house sometimes.
The open kitchen : new bar stools from Kava Kava
We have a few restaurants in our compound (very good Indian cuisine, quite decent Thai and Moroccan, 5* Chinese, haven't tried the Italian bistro) and a 5* clubhouse with bowling, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, badminton, squash and ping pong courts, olympic-sized pool, spa, gym, KTV, tea house etc. There is also an enormous landscaped garden and lake out there - much appreciated after the hustle and bustle of a megacity like Shanghai. The only thing that is missing is an outdoor pool - but you can't have everything. Besides, there are lots of mosquitoes here.
The salon : our own Poltrona Frau Vanity Fair armchairs, wooden furniture salvaged from junk shop, sofa borrowed from the compound
The house is not totally ready yet (if it ever will be) as I am running out of steam after a month of non-stop unpacking. So this is a first glimpse (the 2nd is here), just pretend you didn't see the mess.