(How 'bout that? It's been a while since I made a musical reference, and now I've switched decades to -- what? -- the '80s?)
Several commenters have asked about our walking -- that's our primary mode of transportation these days, though sometimes we're walking to get a bus or taxi. And no, I was not much of a walker before getting here. I'm not very good about distances, so I'm relying on my mom's estimates here, but based on how long the walks take us, it seems about right.
From our apartment to the main bus station is only 3-4 blocks, so that hardly counts as a walk at all! And most of the buses we take stop within 3-4 blocks of our destination, so there isn't much of a walk at that end, either. The nearest store where we go for snacks and the like is 3-4 blocks in a direction opposite the main bus station. And the famous Lin Duck House restaurant is only about 6 blocks away, and about the same for the "usual restaurant" in the Yifu Building on campus.
Our longest hikes are for school -- the girls' kindergarten is about 1.5 miles from our apartment, and the law school is another half mile beyond that. So, round trip, the girls are walking about 3 miles a day and I'm walking about 4 miles a day. Some days I take the girls to school and come home to work, and then go pick them up at the end of the day and walk them home, and those are 6-mile days. And we try the best we can to combine trips -- for example, the fruit and vegetable market near Beach Gate is about .25 miles from the girls' school, so we go to the market on the way to or from school.
It was REALLY hard at first for me, especially the uphill climb to the law school. And then there were the steps -- two flights up to our apartment, four flights up to Zoe's classroom, 4.5 flights up to my office in the law school (my office is on the 5th floor, which is only 4 flights, but you have to climb up one flight and down one flight in another building to get to the second floor to go up another three flights!) . Some days I felt that I could do the 2-mile walk, or I could do the 5th-story climb, but I couldn't do both! There were times I'd make it to the law school and then have to stop on each floor to "gaze out the window to look at the sea" while I caught my breath, hoping I wasn't too obviously out of breath.
It took about 6 weeks for the walk to the law school and then up to my office to become easy. It was definitely better each week, but 6 loooong weeks passed before it seemed easy! So I'm definitely in much better shape than I was when we got here.
But I really haven't lost as much weight as I expected I would. I lost weight on each adoption trip, and between healthier Chinese food and tons more activity, I expected the pounds to just melt off. Someone left a scale in the apartment -- a metric one -- and I've only lost 3-4 kilos, about 6 to 8 pounds. Oh, well, I know I'm building muscles. I actually have some definition in my calves and I'm slimmer in the thighs and hips, I think.
The most amazing thing is that the girls do these walks with nary a complaint. It's as if walking 35 minutes to school each day is perfectly normal! Of course, we go pretty slowly when they are with me -- at least, I go slowly, as they walk 15 steps for each one of mine because they run ahead and then come back, or walk three times around a flower bed instead of just walking by it once. They especially love walking through the park, where they can climb up on rocks and sing-song, "I'm the king of the castle, and you're the dirty rascal!" And we play detective as we try to figure out which tree a particular flower or fruit or leaf on the ground came from.
I still have fantasies sometimes of owning one of those cute red scooters, or an electric-assist motorized bike -- especially when walking uphill to the law school carrying a backpack full of handouts for my students. But I don't fantasize about having a car here; I can't even imagine navigating the crazy traffic in China. And I don't mind the walk so much any more, though with the temperatures warming up I expect I'll be arriving at the law school dripping with sweat for my classes. And with no air conditioning in the classrooms, I expect I'll stay dripping with sweat! Still, the walking isn't as bad as I expected it would be. And it gets easier and easier each day.