The Great Apartment Hunt: Fuzhou Style

I have to say living in Fuzhou has proved to be quite an adventure! I have lived in other cities in China. Each city has it’s one personality. Nanchang is rude and dirty. My loyal blog readers no I have no love for that place. Hangzhou is hip, beautiful and peaceful. It is very vibrant. Probably hands down my favorite city that I have lived in. Wuxi was ok, it had a lot of Western conviences. The air quality was terrible. Fuzhou, I will say is extremely quirky. I have never experienced such a place. It isn’t as westernized as the other cities that I have lived in. I think that is what gives it it’s quirky charm.
This quirky charm made my apartment hunting quite the adventure. Unlike the other cities that I lived in, gated communities are not that popular. There are a few getting built. Most of them were no where near my school. Also here in Fuzhou the outside area may not look beautiful but the interior are lovely. 

The HR girl who is helping me settle in is such a sweetie pie. I shall refer to her as Sweetie Pie in this post.   Sweetie Pie called on the second day after I arrived in Fuzhou and asked  me to meet her at the school gate because the realtor was going to show me some apartments. I told her prior to the realtor meeting  my specifications.

When I arrived Sweetie Pie  was waiting for me at the gate. I assumed that we we going to get picked up by a car. Well oh boy I was wrong! My chariot was in the form of a guy on an ebike. Sweetie Pie told me to get on the back. I am a bit scared of ebikes. I have slowly overcome my fear. When I first moved to China I was so scared that I clawed at the drivers chest with my nails and drew a bit of blood whilst screaming like a banshee.

This time I was a bit better but I was still tense. Plus that realtor kept answering his cellphone while driving. He showed me the first set of apartments. I wasn’t thrilled with the  exterior and the kitchens were way too small.  Also it was a bit far from my school. He called his colleague who had a bigger ebike to take me. I guess he felt I was too big to ride on his bike. Honestly there was no issue and I fit just find. However the other guy was a better driver. 

The 3 of us went onward to the next series of apartments there were a bit better but they didn’t have any shower stalls and the kitchens were too small. They were closer to the school but I just didn’t like them. They didn’t feel like a home.  So day one of the great apartment hunt was a bust. The realtors were exasperated with me. They typed on their translators that there were not many vacant apartment available during this time of the year. 

Day 2 of the apartment search began. This time the guy with the bigger ebike came to pick me up at the hotel. They had two apartments for me to look at that were very near the school. I upped my price too above 4000 rmb. The apartments that I was seeing between 3000-4000 rmb wer not what I was looking for. They were all 2 bedrooms but just not the right apartment for me.Then I saw one right near my school. It was in a cute  community with pink building. I could envision Popcorn and Marshmallow frolicking about in the grass. 

There were a group of ayi( older women) that stared at me as if I were an alien from outer space. This apartment I loved. The kitchen was big. It had a great vibe to it. It was bright and cheerful. The bedrooms were a nice size. I was so excited .

Then I looked into the bathroom it was a wet room. Basically a wet room is a a toilet and a shower with no stall. So when you take a shower everything got soaked. This is a very popular type of bathroom in China. Two of my apartments had wet rooms. I vowed never never again. This apartment was also a no. If the bathroom was bigger it would have been a yes. So we went on to the next one. This one was a nice size but it was very old and not maintained well. It was like the landlord took no pride in it. That was a shame because that aprtment had tons of apartment if he actually took care of it. It was a two bedroom and two bathrooms. The bedrooms were big. The master bedroom had it’s own private bathroom with a shower.  The other bathroom was a wet room. I had. To say no because the place reeked of roach spray. 

The realtor dropped me off at my school. I had. To talk to Sweetie Pie about something and give her my passport to pick up my FEC ( Foreign Experts Certificate) . I asked her if maybe we can use a second realtor because this guy was not finding what I wanted. I was really feeling bad for him he really was working hard for his commission. As I was walkin home the realtor guy found me and told me to get on the bike. he had two more places to show me. So I hopped on and. Away we went. 

This next one was kinda old but not bad it was a two bedroom. The kitchen was ok. The bathroom was a nice size had a stall. The bedrooms were nice. Then I went to the master bedroom and opened what I thought was a closet. Nope it was a shitter. It was squat toilet with a wet room. H-E double hockey sticks no!! The he showed me the last one it was right near the school. It was huge!!! 3 bedrooms, an office, and aquarium. It was old but huge!! I loved it the kitchen was huge. This was it!! I found the place. I kept asking him in Chinese the price. He never answer. I found out later from Sweetie Pie that apartment was 7,800. Which was way out of my budget. I don’t know I was shown such a place! 

Sweetie Pie told me that she would help me search on the Internet for apartments. She used There were 3 choices. The first choice was already taken it was 4500. The second one was just posted. I loved how it looked. It was right near the lake. It was 5700. A bit more than what I was asking but it was a great location and apartment prices here are a bit expensive. It is the capital city of the province afterall. The third one was already taken. I had an appointment at 6 pm with another realtor to see the apartment by the lake.

We had to wait awhile for their colleague to come because he had the key. 20 minutes later the colleague comes with the key. This area around this apartment is very artsy and has many cute cafes. They is a wine and jazz bar on the block. The apartment is amazing. It is a two bedroom with a third room that was used as a bedroom. I see it as more of a dining room. It felt like home. The kitchen was a great size. The bathroom had a stall. The doors and cabinets are all wood that was built into the wall. A lovely color. In the guest room there is a vanity table!!! In the master bedroom there it a long curved desk that is built into the walls.

Then my competion walked in, a young Chinese couple. The place was getting shown to both of us at the same time. I typed into the translator that I wanted this place and I had cash on hand. I called Sweetie Pie and put her on the phone with the realtors. We then sat around. I think the landlords were coming. Later Sweetie Pie texted me that we had an appointment to see the landlord tomorrow at 9 am. I guessed at that time maybe the Chinese couple weren’t interested.

The next day I met the landlords. They were Christians just like me. I was told that the other couple were very interested but since she got the call from me first and I had cash on hand an was able to give her the money sooner than the Chinese couple that I got the apartment. They couple not sign until after work! I really lucked up on this.

I type this blog sitting on the couch of my new apartment in Fuzhou. This place feels so Zen. I feel so happy when I walk into the door. Let the new chapter of my life commence.

She’s baaaaack!!!

Hi everyone, Chocolate Chick in China I back after an overdue hiatus. I was just at a point where things weren’t going well in my life and I didn’t want to turn this blog too EMO. I also got consumed with depression. I had to pull myself out from that. Don’t worry it wasn’t to the degree of needing meds or therapy but I had to really look into myself and be honest. It’s still an ongoing process.  I guess the best way is to write a short numbered synopsis.


1) Wuxi is a pretty decent city. There are many western conviences like Walmart, IKEA, Subway, Costas, Starbucks and Old Navy. That was one aspect I liked. My apartment was awesome and cute. The complex was very grassy green and beautiful. It felt like a home. There was a gym right downstairs. Also an English speaking spa. I got into weekly massages and facials.


2) Work is where things went south. The campus was beautiful. I arrived with many new teachers they were mostly from secondary. They were all Irish and all mostly couples. There were two Brits that were couples. There was an older American male and female. Soon the cliques formed and I was left alone on the outskirts ostracized. I was also the only black teacher. There were only a few Americans. They were males and had their own lives and wives. The school was a British curriculm school. My co teacher and I butted heads.  It was soon made apparent that I didn’t measure up to their standards. No matter how hard I worked or what I did it was hinted that the American system was inferior ( this attitude was really from my immediate supervisor) so this is when depression hit. I gained weight. Though when things got better I lost weight. Things did get better but well he was on a mission he wanted superior British teachers. So everything was scruntized and he gave harsh critique to my lessons. Everything was my fault. I gained 30 pounds. Finally I tearfully resigned. That bastard smiled like a Chesire Cat. I made friends with many of my western coworkers( the good period) My students did improve though not to what he felt, I developed a bond with the co-teacher. I met some amazing kids but I needed to find a place that I was valued. I finished out the school year  like a good girl. 


3) Friendship was very tough. I was isolated by co workers. At first I went to the gym but once the stress hit it was hard . Plus that person that made my life hell was at the gym so I stopped going. I finally found a group of outside friends via Facebook. One person wanted to host a Game Night. We met at a local restarant and played games. They became my core group. There was a houseparty that night. I met a slew of other people. These guys were the partyers and they were Americans. Then the bar girl came out. I was getting drunk every weekend. I don’t like to overly drink due to alcoholism being in my family. This also contributed to weight gain. My friend made everything bearable sometimes.

My Dogs

4) Marshmallow Man was very lonely when mommy went to work. He did have an ayi that came and took him on walks at noon. She also cleaned for me. She was a good ayi. An ayi is like a maid. However ayi means older woman like auntie. I am considered an ayi too. Ok so back to Marshy he needed a friend. At first I wanted to get him a girlfriend. He is like any teenage boy. I decided on another boy though because I was not ready to be a grandma. I also decided on the same breed. Bichons are just so darn cute. Grooming is a biotch though. So I named my new son Popcorn. He is a bit cute. My arm is no longer Marshmallow’s humping post. Now his attention is on Popcorn who just takes it. Well sometimes. Marshy is still my favorite but Popcorn is worming his way into my heart. He is not exactly the smartest dog and finally at 7 months he is sorta housebroken. He is an amiable little chap though. My dogs are a great diversion.  


5) I fell head over heels with a Chinese guy. He is 34 years old. For a time he loved me too. We were very happy together. He is opening an English school. He works with partners. We met because he also volunteers with the Wuxi government in a program to introduce Chinese culture to foreigners.b That’s how I met him. See men can come knocking at your door! Lol. He is very handsome and our personalities clicked. My friend was teaching English Corner for him and bailed so I helped him. As we spent more time together mutual feeling began to develop. When I saw him I was breathless. We were inseparable. He wanted me to meet his parents. If you know anything about Chinese culture then you know that means a guy plans on marrying you. I liked his family. They were nice. Well I guess they didn’t like me enough. His mom could not get pass my appearance. She didn’t approve. We still dated. Then I lost my job. I became despondent and gained weight. I wasn’t the same person that he met. Those reasons made his love fizzle. The love on his side wasn’t strong enough. I was willing to try everything. I was trying to stay in Wuxi to be with him. I even accepted jobs at half my pay to be with him. In the end two well meaning divas gave me real talk. Although I still deeply love him this relationship was not heading to the altar and his mom was  introducing him to new girlfriends. He didn’t love me enough to fight for me. So this was when I made the decision to leave.

Fuzhou Bound

6) Love and bad luck on my search kept me limited in my job search. Primarily I was looking to stay in Wuxi. In fact my boy asked me tearfully to stay. This was before things went bad. I sent out resumes to the local international schools there appeared to be no interest. One liked me but the pay was low and they wanted me to teach religion to kids( some were mainlainders and that is illegal in China) The other only wanted teachers with PYP training. Then the third where all my friends worked was silent. Many of them were confused. There were 3 openings at that school. My resume was solid. Yet nothing. Then someone did some poking around well maybe this is second hand info that a certain someone called that school’s head and told them not to hire me. That certain someone also didn’t give my recruiter in Shanghai information that was needed like reference letter. So  they were not able to place me. So I was not deterred switch to public school ESL. At this point it was becoming apparent that the boy and I could only be friends. He wasn’t allowed to love me because his mommy wouldn’t let him!! This and my diva friends giving me a harsh reality speech that made me cry. Made me open my eyes. My warm and cuddly rainbow and sunshine friend that moved back to the states kept telling me about an international school in Fuzhou that was hiring. Her friend is the principal. It was always at the back of my mind. Finally I decided to  contact him. I contacted him before but I was head over heels in love and my feet weren’t on the ground. I interviewed and the school appears a match. They offered me a first grade position. I told the boy and though he is sad he is very supportive and understands. He did apologize to me. We are still friends. Leaving him was the hardest thing I had to do. As I type this from my hotel in Fuzhou I am excited and scared about this new chapter in my life. I learned a lot about myself during my year in Wuxi. I know what parts I need to work on professionally.  Keep you fingers crossed. I am continuing my apartment hunt. I have to go back to Wuxi and get my fur babies and other things. The boy got a moving van for me. I should be fully situated by August 10th in Fuzhou.

Other News

7) Lucky 7, my niece Caity gave birth to beautiful baby girl. She named her Kaylie. I am in love from afar. I am a great aunt. I am ancient. Is there a cooler and hipper word than great aunt though? Just ugh on that one.

Big Thanks

To my friends who loved and supported me through my rough spots and celebrated with me during the good times. Even though I may not have initially liked what you said you stood your ground. I love and appreciate you both. To my  happy sunshine cuddly friend. You were the kind and listening ear that I needed. I know you are going through tough times to but you listened and delivered advice in an angelic way. I love you for that.

The Great Cookie Caper


I have been been absent from blogging for awhile. My move to Wuxi wasn’t as I expected and I have become derailed.  The one great thing are my students, so I decided to write a blog about them. 

I have always given my students Christmas gifts every year since I started teaching in 2001. I have been a classroom teacher so the max gifts that I bought is 25. This year I teach the third grade and there are two classes per grade. So I have 54 students. I also learned later that I was the first teacher actually buy them presents. The other foreign teachers didn’t bother and just gave them cards. BORING!! 

I just feel buying presents are are thoughtful, also it makes me feel the Christmas spirit. I haven’t had a real Christmas since my mom died so and no one gives me gifts anymore. So choosing gifts for my students hold a special meaning.

Taobao (the Chinese Amazon but even better) provided me all of their Christmas gifts and I put them all in stockings. The stockings were very large. I decided that I wanted to bake them Christmas cookies. Most of my students never had Christmas cookies before. I was excited to share this Western tradition with them.

Thus begun The Great Cookie Caper. I recently acquired a used toaster oven. One thing about China is  there aren’t ovens here. Well there are but they aren’t commonplace. This is the source of all my cooking and baking needs. I never baked cookies using a toaster oven, so I had no idea how long it would take to bake cookies for 54 students. I decided to make  4 different types of cookies Snowballs, Sugar Cookies, Cranberry Cookies and Gingerbread cookies. I alternated between Taobao and Western supermarkets to get the ingredients. 

 I ended up not making the cranberry cookies because it took me 6 bloody hours to make cookies. I was a cookie baking machine. In the end I made 156 cookies.  I could only bake one tray at a time. I didn’t even think about this. I was all night baking and packaging cookies. I only got two hours of sleep. Then I had to take the cookies to school and add them to the stockings.

While the kids were practicing for the Christmas concert, Santa Amber struck! I put the stockings under the tree. It was so fun and really put me in the Christmas spirit. Then I returned to help with the rehearsal. 

When they returned to the classroom, I heard their excitement from my office. So I went in they were so excited. Their home room teacher knew in advance that I was going to do this. The kids were playing with their toys and eating their cookies. One girl came up to me with tears in her eyes and said a heartfelt thank you. 

I think my biggest and best Christmas present was the happiness of  the kids. They even shared it the cookies with their parents who asked me for the recipe!!!


Traveling with a Dog in China

I made the big move from Hangzhou to Wuxi!! Your Chocolate Chick in China now has a new city to wreck havoc on( ok not really but it sounded so cool) Anyhow getting to Wuxi with my new dog Marshmallow was no bed of roses. Remember there is no easy button in China, everything is always roundabout and everything always ends up needing multiple stamps.

In China dogs are not allowed to travel on trains. this is quite unfortunate because I lived right near a railway station and riding a bullet train is my preferred mesns of travel. Easy button alert have a section that is you can place your animals or animal friendly compartments. Heck, i would have even taken a slow train!

Means of Traveling with your Dog

1. Da Plane!!!

You are definately can take your pet on a plane. like in the USA you have to fill out paperwork. you need your pets medical records , health certificate and a pet passport. Then you got to your carrier and fill out paperwork. that gets tons of stamps. sounds simple enough. I faced this problem when I had Baobao, I didnt live far enough from my new city so there were no flights offered. When i lived in Nanchang I could have taken a flight to Shanghai then to Hangzhou. ok i was willing to do this but i was told i had to refill out all the information and wait a day for it to be processed and i would have to book a hotel room in Shanghai that accepted dogs. this was because we were connecting to a flight in a different city. See no easy button.

With Marshmallow this was not even an option. We lived too close to Wuxi( 2 hours on fast train, 30 minutes on a plane) there was no plane to Wuxi from Hangzhou and Wuxi is very close to Shanghai (45 minutes on a fast train) do the plane was out)
  2) Pet Transporters
Many Pet Shops and Vets offer this option. You just have to ask. They basically use their private cars to transport you and your dog to your new city. The fees are high. I was quoted 2000¥($322) to travel from Hangzhou to Wuxi. It would have been less of a headache. i just was too cheap to pay it.

3)Friends With Cars
I hate this because you are at the whims of another person’s mood swings. When I first landed the job an aquaintance offered to drive me to Wuxi. I was like are you sure and he swore. Well let’s say when I checked closer to the date he ignored my messages. The I begged a second friend and one week before we were set to go he backed out using a lame excuse about job training.
4) Private Car
Taxi’s or a private driver can take you to a new city with your pet. I never got an estimate from this. it probably is a bit cheaper than then a pet transporter.
5. Bus
This was the option I chose and let me say never again!! It was so confusing!!! I had two extremely different bus experiences. The Nanchang to Hangzhou experience was much easier because I had a Chinese boyfriend. He talked to the people at the bus station and after some discussion( I am sure money was exchanged)Baobao sat on the bus with us in his carrier.

Hangzhou was the hard button on steroids. I had so many Chinese tell me it can’t be done. I was in tears. I know it was possible, I just needed someone’s help. I have heard other stories about these dogs traveling by bus. Oh and I got a suggestion to sneak my dog on in a duffel bag. Ma’am why is you duffle bag moving. it’s an earthquake?

Well i called my vet, he put me i touch with a pet transporter who offered a variety of services. Basically, yes you can take your dog on a bus in China, you just need a health certificate. With a health certificate your dog can ride under the bus with the luggage. yes I said under the bus!!! So inhuman, not ine if my friends would come with me to fight for my cause and the pet transporter guy only asked but not with enough determination. I watched in silent horror as my puppy was treated as freight. On the bus i was near tears scared my baby would die under the bus.
When we stopped at a rest stop, i called my vet in tears. he said he would talk to the driver. I could’t find him. finslly i located him but then my vet didn’t pick up the phone. I begged the driver in my broken Chinglish. he consented to water. Then I gestured to the bus and the dog and shook his head. I started to cry. My cute little furball looked up at him with his black puppy dog eyes and the driver consented!!!

Moral of the story, if you are traveling with your pet in China use a pet transporter. It is the quickest and easiest way. Mommy and Puppy are safe in Wuxi now.




OK!! I am ready  to burst,  I have been sitting on this news for a few months. I thought it would be too premature to leak out to cyber world.  I can”t contain myself any longer.  There are some big changes on the horizons for this chocolate chick in China.  I am equally excited and scared. I accept a new position at an international school in China.  For two years I have debated whether or not to go back into classroom teaching. My last teaching position in the US wasn’t the best and knocked the wind out of my sails. It made me doubt if I was a good teacher. My  self esteem was ruined.  I gave my heart and soul to teaching and it ended up breaking my heart.  Why? Due to pettiness of the human nature. I don’t want to go into much information about what fueled me to leave teaching, it was and is personal. I will say that I was working in an unhealthy environment.

This actually is what propelled me into teaching abroad. I needed  to push a restart button in regards to my life. I knew I wanted to teach. It is what I was born to do. I didn’t want one bad  and rotten experience to spoil the whole bunch. My China teaching experience has been more favorable than that last teaching experience in the USA. I preferred teaching the university setting. It is what gave me back my love of   teaching. Still, I was petrified to go back to classroom teaching.  Fear that I wasn’t good enough. When I did try to apply, I was fearful to break a contract. So for the past two years, I let opportunities pass me by.  I watched as new friends came to China and got higher paying jobs and told me that it was not as high pressure as teaching back home.

I decided it was time for a change. I already have been revamping my health and working on my inner self. It was now time to focus on my professional growth. So I did it, I applied to Teaching Nomad(a foreigner owned recruiting company) I was placed and  found a good and high paying job immediately. The main problem is that I would have  to relocate.  I have already have built a good life in Hangzhou. I have great friends. I found a great gym with handsome trainers. My dog has a best friend here. It will be so hard to leave that behind.

So it is a bit bittersweet. I already asked the realtor to find an apartment close to a gym. Fitness is not something that I will give up due to moving.  It will be hard to find new friends because I can be shy around new people. My Oreo will really miss Odie but his mommy and daddy are getting a car so they can drive and visit us. I am also glad though to move on to a new adventure. So as one door closes another door is waiting to open and I will walk through that door with confidence and my head held high. It may not be a brighter future but one has  to take risks in life.


Romance Roadblock

roadblock-obstaclesSadly, readers, this Chocolate Chick has hit a severe roadblock in her dating life. Actually it is like  my car fell off the cliff and is a fiery wreckage below. I know so sad, I am just having a problem getting a date. Maybe it is the language barrier or my lack of confidence. It sometimes can be extremely lonely.  I have good friends, but most of  my friends are in relationships.  I am the odd duck out. It was  like that in that in America that now  it is like that now in China.

awkwardThe number of engagements and marriages in my office is increasing. People use to be optimistic when predicting love for me. Nowadays that has changed, I have been single for so long that it is a norm for me and my social group. People just avoid my gaze and the subject. I think they are doing that because they don’t want to see me hurt. So, while I am happy for my friends, I think what is wrong with me? Why is dating so difficult for me? I have  trouble talking to men. Making eye contact. I am socially awkward around men. I freeze up them and get extremely self conscious around them.awkwardlove

I even had to stop  taking swing dancing classes because i would freak out when I had to partner dance. I could not even make eye contact and was constantly blushing and. tripping over my feet.  So how can this awkward duck find love??? I am also fearful that I will fall victim to another predator like Jason or Leon.  So I am in a Catch 22, I want to find love but i am also fearful of getting hurt.

I did open up the OKCupid  account but things didn’t work out with the few guys that i was talking with. I just didn’t feel that they were trustworthy and I was getting red flags from them. I don’t want to  duped thrice so now i only view men as eye candy, good  to view from afar. Maybe patience is what is needed but everything seems to be falling  in place. I need to find someone that I can be socially awkward with, who laughs at my eccentricities and  finds them adorable. what I want is a best friend and  a lover combined. If not I will get another dog. In my heart I want what the couple has  in the video below. I fear to open myself up again.

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