In fact, the apartments are quite nice on the inside and are a throw back to the old days, when westerners had to live in one of a handful of government-run "diplomatic compounds".
And this is no orginary gulag. It's the same one I lived in during my first stay in Beijing, in the 1990s. Back then, I was in building five. But now I've moved to building two, which is exactly the same, only it's over here. Thus it has taken me 13 years to move 200 metres, which my wife will tell you is not bad for me.
Of all the things in our new flat this is what I thought billions of people on the world wide web needed to see the most.
The point is, I'm not such a fan of domestic hot water engineering. I don't marvel at the compactness, or how it works, or even the 1970s sci-fi style guage-with-no-numbers at the top. This is a Xiao Ya (Little Duck) brand of water heater and what I love is the ducks.
For a comparison, this is the famous logo of Chinese appliance giant Haier, which appears on all of its washing machines, dryers, fridges, et cetera ...
|This is the logo on our fridge, along with a couple of|
Peking opera magnets, which were really there, and
not just put there for the photo to emphasise that we
are in China. So, too, was the magnetic egg cookbook,
but that's less exotic.