Our first home as a couple, and thereafter a family of three, was a spacious double storey brick house with a nice green garden by the side. It was snuggled in a quiet cul-de-sac, the silence broken only by
crazy yapping neighbourhood dogs and the chirping of birds at dawn.
Hence it was a tiring and stressful few weeks of packing and throwing/giving away things that we no longer needed before moving over to our apartment here in Chengdu. We decided on a serviced residence at the edge of the city, close by to the expat community, for the convenience of having a concierge to help us with anything and everything. Our less than perfect Mandarin contributed a lot to the decision of our housing-everything single frikkin sign and label is in Chinese characters here, and having the staff at reception to help is a big plus. Of course, being in a serviced residence means we do not have a private yard and the busy street is just right out the main entrance, but on the plus side the residence is located nearby rows and rows of shops of any kind, a market, a mall within walking distance, Madelyn’s kindergarden (across the street) and the street in front is not that busy (there were other serviced residences we looked at but those were located smack in front of a crazy 6-lane main road). The one big plus of living here is the large community of Malaysian families – all 9 of them to be exact – and in a foreign country with a culture still quite unlike what we have been used to, a community is much well appreciated.
Our apartment unit has 3 bedrooms with 3 baths, one of which I have converted into a some sort of a laundry area. We do have a dryer (which I am loving to bits!!! How did I ever live without one!!!) but I am now becoming more selective of what I throw into the dryer. Madelyn’s clothes, mostly, I hang up to air dry after the wash, not wanting the heat to damage the prints and elastic bands. Hence we put up a clothes hanger in one of the bathrooms (which is strangely very spacious-big enough as a small room actually), moved the ironing board in and do all the hand-washing in there too.
The living and dining area is one big connected space, typical of most apartment layouts, with space enough to fit our bookshelf, dining table and sofa from Miri (we moved some of the furniture provided out). Madelyn has more than enough floor space to play around with, we know so by how she is happily scooting around on her scooter.
More than enough space for her to mess it up with her toys, as you can see!
We are on a high floor, overlooking the expensive villas of the neighbourhood and an unobstructed view towards the West. Lucky us there are no other higher buildings adjacent to ours so we do not have to look into someone else’s living/bath/bed room. 😛 Which means we get a lot of sunlight (when there is sun, it is almost always overcast here). The only downside living in this serviced residence is the lack of natural ventilation. For safety purposes, there are no open windows here….only glass panels. So we cannot actually open windows to let in fresh air – think HOTEL style. I did not quite like that idea initially hence I pushed the hubby to consider alternate accommodation (normal condos with a nice large balcony, maybe?) but after putting together the pros and cons of each, we still came back to this serviced residence. With its lack of open windows and natural ventilation, the apartment is surprisingly not ‘stuffy’. We have the option of letting in outside air via the ventilation ducts, if we choose to. And cooking with the hob on has been no problem at all with cooking smells lingering. I have barbequed chicken, fried fish, cooked curry and even grilled satay on my grill pan and still no lingering smell. Great system, no?
By the way, did I mention that I LOVVVEEEEEEEE
my our new kitchen??? More working countertop space than I had before in our house! A large built in oven and super induction cooker stove!! So easy peasy to cook with those! I am gonna get me one of those when we go back!!
One thing I miss most after selling off our place in Miri, is my garden…having a porch to sit on to enjoy the breeze or just having plants rustling in the background. Well, none of that here, thanks to living in our fishbowl. But with adequate space along our large windows, I managed to visit the Flower Market here and got myself some pretty potted plants. In this cool temperate climate, some flowers flourish here unlike back in hot humid Malaysia. Our windowsill is now decorated in a bright splash of colors from Anthuriums, Gerbera Daisies and my favourite of them all – purple Calla Lilies! In addition to providing us with some much needed fresh oxygen, they are also good for purifying the air and add a homely touch to our little space.
There’s Madelyn posing so very happily next to her Gerbera Daisies. She had the most exciting time initially pouring water into the pots. She watered the plants every day initially for two weeks, and then when I went back to the Flower Market to get something, the seller told me to just leave the plants alone and only water them sparingly once every fortnight or so. Ooooppppsssss! Apparently, in this weather they don’t require much water and too much moisture will actually kill the poor little things! So her daily watering ritual had to stop, but I still let her do it whenever I see that the plants need watering.
What we lack of a private courtyard and compound, the residence made it up with an indoor playroom (super convenient when Madelyn needs a change of scenery from being cooped up at home on cold rainy days), a rooftop yard with a kids’ playground, a pool, gym and restaurant. We have weekly aerobics and soon-to-start pilates classes too! And long term guests (staying more than a month) get extra perks such as weekly shuttle rides to the bigger hypermarkets for grocery shopping, monthly day trips to nearby places of interests and occasional get-togethers during festivals. Quite a nice package, I must say.
It has been more than three months now since we arrived, and I am loving our new cozy apartment more and more each day. Sometimes it made me think, why did we ever needed a house in the first place?