how's this for trippy: at the team building dinner, i was speaking spanish to my korean boss of my chinese company which is a subsidiary of a larger german parent company. "¿cuantos años estás viviendo en mexico?" it's probably not the most perfect spanish, but it was enough to impress our chinese and korean coworkers, who all just flipped out. "dos años," mr.lee told me. i myself was impressed with that one korean guy (mr.sun) who spoke perfect chinese, having gone to chinese graduate school in shenyang. we chatted about baseball, which i knew is very popular in south korea. also in the mix was one filipino guy who seemed lost amidst the combination of chinese, korean, and english that was flying around. finally, discovered the lone woman in our department is from dongbei as well, jilin no less. people from the northeast can hold their liquor and she was impressed that i seemed unfazed by the shots of chinese alcohol. i was definitely drunk but i can hide it well, and my face doesn't get red like some people. as if that wasn't enough of a coincidence, we discovered that we're actually apartment neighbors: she lives at 13, i live at 14, but just at opposite ends of the hallway. i never see her because she rides the korean bus (she's an employee of the korean half of our conglomeration) while i take the chinese bus. we ended up walking back together from the restaurant, which was about 15 minutes. at one point she asked me to slow down since i wasn't wearing high heels like she was. she's very nice but also unfortunately married.

this morning i lost my hot water. combined with my still non-functioning internet, this apartment is falling apart. i ended up taking the minibus with the IT guy. in front of the mall we picked up some more employees, including that one girl who has the most photogenic employee photo i've ever seen. i actually saw her yesterday on the late bus leaving the office after the blackout. i wonder what her job is? i think she's in the procurement department because i don't see her in the engineering side of the office.

during lunch i sat with a girl who said was in my department but i'd only seen her yesterday when she handed me a backpack. she has a pretty face and i shouldn't have been too surprised when she told me she's from chongqing. she'd overheard me talking to somebody else about living in america, and i ended up telling her my complicated pedigree.

i left work early (5:00) to go check out a perspective new apartment and to get liuo ke the guy in charge of employee housing to come fix my hot water heater and internet. we had to go into the old part of changshou to pay one of the many landlords. it was my first time being in the old city and i think i actually prefer living here than in the new part. here the streets and the buildings have character, winding up and down hills, with a striking view of the hills down below from a mountain perch. one sunday i'm come out and explore the old city.

checking out a prospective apartment (bigger but older, i don't like it, a bit farther away than my current location):

liou ke was able to fix my hot water. it was something weird, and when he explained it to me i couldn't quite understand. apparently you purchase cards that go into a remote to activate the hot water. once a card runs out of money, you need to get a new card. it's pretty high tech but also seems kind of more trouble than it's worth.

team building dinner: