t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


MAY

22

2016

MAY

19

2016

i saw the sun rise from my small hotel window. okay, that's not entirely true. my window actually faces west, so i would only be able to see the sun set if my view of the horizon wasn't blocked by so many tall buildings. but what i meant to say is i didn't fall asleep last night until 7am in the morning. there's definitely something going on this week, it's not just the cold medication. it can't be the drugs because 1) it was supposed to make me drowsy and 2) i've already stopped taking it since wednesday. it can't be because of sunmeng leaving in an angry fit monday morning, since we're back to normal again after i invited her back to chongqing. so the only conclusion i can draw is it's something psychological. i'm probably worried about my trip back to boston. i want to buy some things online but 1) i don't know what yet and 2) i don't know how. plus the fact that my 2 month staycation in chongqing is about 2 weeks away from coming to a close. back to the familiar of home, but also back to the reality, which is i really need to find a job, especially now that mary my psycho roommate will no longer be living at my place (which is of course good and bad). it doesn't help that i seemed to have found a renewed interest in chongqing, especially with night photography, and located more places to explore.

something strange but good happened last night. my redmi note 3 incrementally updates the system. the latest version of MIUI 7.3.2.0 (LHOCNDD) (android version 5.1.1 LMY47V) finally fixed the VPN bug issue. you'll recall that my VPN would drop after about 2 minutes. i thought it was a china-censoreware issue since it was using a china OS after all, but xiaomi finally fixed the problem, although discreetly, as there's no mention of the fix on their fix sheet. i managed to run vpn.ac indefinitely, although it did take a while to find a server that will connect and the right protocol-port. i tried servers in hong kong and tokyo, but neither were very fast. i finally settled on a korean server using UDP-443. i was able to surf all my favorite sites without any problems. the one issue i had though was google photos wouldn't update automatically. i'm not quite sure what it is, either the great firewall throttling VPN traffic in general, or the hotel wifi throttling my upload speed. i can however back up google photos manually, although it's very slow, so i think the problem is speed issue. hopefully it will all resolve itself once i leave china. as of now i have about 4700+ photos on my redmi phone that needs to be backed up.

as we're on the subject of phones, ever since i upgraded to cyanogen OS 13 (13.0.ZNH0EAS2JK android 6.0.1) on my oneplus one, i've had icon issues. on my 4x5 grid home screen they're slightly smaller than before, and not properly rendered so they have a jagged appearance. icons in the drawer appear fine, just the ones on the home screen are all messed up. i tried looking for solutions online, but only a small number of people have this problem, and there doesn't seem to be an easy fix yet.

as i wasn't sleeping last night, i had all sorts of time to do other things, like take photos from my window. there was a loud explosion last night around 12:45am, sounded like the crackle of a lightning right overhead, but there wasn't that echo of natural lightning. maybe later today i will go outside and look for signs of damage. then around 1:30am street sweepers worked my street. there are various types of street cleaning. i've seen trucks that spray and sweep the roads, but i've also seen crew armed with pressure washers work the sidewalks. tonight, they were pressure washing the roads, a handful of utility workers walking the hose to make sure it doesn't kink, while a pressurized tank truck slowly followed them.

today's weather looks to be rainy but forecast says clearing up by this afternoon. i went out around noontime to pick up some dongbeibing (RMB6) and some egg tarts (RMB4).

in order to avoid the crowds, i eat at unusual times. like tonight for dinner, i ate at 5pm. that gives me a little bit of time to come back to the hotel, rest, then go back out for my night photography.

i didn't have much in terms of breakfast, a leftover piece of dongbei bread, washed down with some gatorade. i could've stayed in all day as housekeeping knocked on my door especially early (10:30am). there wasn't much to clean, i emptied the trash, get fresh towels, a bottle of water, and new disposable slippers.

i went to the yarn district around 2pm to buy from the list my mother gave me this morning: 红豆 brand wool in mustard (RMB98), thick wool white & blue (RMB68), thick wool black & white (RMB80). outside i found a box of deep purple wool yarn for RMB50; it wasn't on my mother's list, but i knew it was a bargain so i got it for her. the vendor wanted to keep the box but i insisted on having it. inside the yarn building, all the merchants were busy playing mahjong. it was my 3rd visit so they were used to me by now. the mustard was more yellow green, so i decided to hold off on it, considering it was also the most expensive of the batch. a few stalls down, i found the white & blue yarn. and then back outside, by the bundles of colorful shoe yarn, i found the black & white. i also found bags of 三七线 for RMB20. the package said 70% wool, i asked the same lady why they were so cheap. "sanqixian," she told, "it's not real wool." confused, i asked again, given that the label said 70% wool. "misprint," she told me. i'm kind of surprised she'd let me in on this trade secret, that some wool yarn are not in fact wool. i took some photos, knowing that my mother would be interested in such inexpensive stock.

with bundles of yarn strapped to my already heavy camera bag, i made my way to my next destination, which was the luohan temple around the corner. it's actually a famous chongqing tourist attraction, but for some reason i never got around to visiting despite being centrally located in chonqging and near all the places i frequent. maybe i was turned off by the gauntlet of deformed beggars and swindling fortune tellers lining the street leading up to the temple. maybe it was the fact that it didn't look all that impressive from the outside, seemingly swallowed up by more and more tall buildings being built all around it. but i knew it was worth a visit, if nothing else, just to cross it off my list of chongqing attractions.

admission is only RMB10. it's actually a very nice temple, the smell of buddhist incense and the look chinese antiquity a nice antidote to the overwhelming modernity that is chongqing city. however, there's a distasteful commercial quality to all this endeavor, as a large gift shop greets visitors as they first walk in. of course they're branded as "buddhist relics," and i'm sure the price stickers are called donations. i did speak to a nice salesclerk girl, who at first was very curt with me and she saw i was taking photos ("no photos of the buddhas please"), but once we got talking and she learned of my complicated history, she became very friendly.

entering the temple complex one walks through a corridor lined with stone statues. apparently they're 400 buddha statues from the northern song dynasty. unfortunately all of them have been smashed during the cultural revolution, some faces crudely repaired with cement, which only makes it look worse and obvious. passed the corridor is a large temple complex that houses 500 luohans AKA arhats ARA mortals who have achieved buddhist nirvana. these clay sculptures are painted and each one numbered, and supposedly are from the qing dynasty, though they look surprisingly modern so i wonder if they're recreations. photography is forbidden inside, but that made me want to take photos even more. there were many spots when there weren't anybody around so i managed to sneak some snapshots.

up some stairs was another temple, with places to burn candles and light incense, and inside housed some buddha statue. even here there was a lot of commercialization, selling things like candles and incense to burn, ribbons to tie around things (RMB10), roof shingles to write your name on (RMB10), little wood blocks that's supposedly bring good luck (RMB30), tibetan buddhist strands (smallest one RMB10), and golden ingot replicas made from cardboard (RMB10 and RMB20 depending on size).

i managed to spend an hour and a half at the luohan temple, finally leaving around 4pm. the number 6 xiaoshizi (小什字) subway station was right next to the temple, but i decided to walk to linjiangmen (临江门) in jiefangbei to buy some sugar-coated hawthorn fruit. it was all for naught, because once i got there, the vendor told me they're all out of hawthorn for the season until next year. at least i had a chance to sample some before they were gone. i told the subway back to guanyinqiao.

before returning to the hotel i went to buy some dongbei bread. the 东北并 vendor said to me, "every day you come!" i told her i'm leaving in 2 weeks, so i want to eat all the bread i can before i go.

i left the hotel a bit after 7pm. it was overcast but no sign of rain, so another good evening for night photography. i wanted to revisit 大剧院 and the 千厮门大桥 to get a better set of chongqing city evening skyline photos. when i arrived at the station i saw two women who seemed confused. i told them if they were looking for a good vista, to try walking across the bridge towards yuzhong peninsula.

i had half an hour before 8pm (showtime, when all the city lights would be turned on), so i decided to see if i could get a better vantage point from the actual 大剧院 itself. what i discovered was a large plaza with a few people but a lot less than a typical plaza so essentially empty. from there one could get an amazing view of chongqing city, perhaps even better than from the bridge itself or directly across the water on yubei. i decided to stay here tonight and take photos from this location.

with the view of the city on one side, behind me was the grand theater itself, undulating in colors, like a giant alien spacecraft. why didn't i discover this place sooner? it immediately became one of my favorite spots in chongqing to take photos. not only could i see the city, but it also gave me a great view of the bridge, and then on the other side i could see chaotianmen, which i couldn't see from the spot where i was before.

i ran into the women whom earlier i gave directions to. they recognized me and we started chatting, and i ended up walking around the theater a few times with time, even though what i really wanted to do was to be left on my own so i could take photos. soon i lost the twilight glow so it was pointless to try and salvage anything. i just have to come back tomorrow night! and ever night after that until i get the perfect photo.

i finally left around 9pm. i didn't have dinner yet but was too lazy to walk down to the guanyinqiao food street (where many shops would be closing shop anyway), so i decided to just grab a cold sandwich from the lawson convenience store (RMB7) and call it a night. i didn't eat until 11:30pm, after first talking with my mother then sunmeng.

godaddy notified me that my domain name was going to expire in 5 days. i thought i had more time than that but nothing like the present to transfer out the last of my domain name from godaddy to namecheap. i think it typically takes about a week to make the transition but hopefully it goes faster than that. godaddy tried to get me to stay by offering a 20% off coupon (where was this offer when i was making my other transfers?) but there was no going back.