sunrise should really be around 5:25 here in changshou. but all across china they just follow beijing time, regardless of the different time zones. if beijing is eastern standard time, changshou should really be central time. because of that, sunrise is at 6:25 instead, and we keep losing a minute of daylight every morning so eventually it'll be pitch dark by the time i left for work. it's tough waking up when it's still dark outside.

i saw it yesterday, but somebody had puked against the wall opposite the elevators on the first floor. this morning it was still there, and apparently people had been stepping in it to. i seem to run into vomit every week that i've been in the chongqing area. it happened right when i arrived, when that little boy puked in the aisle on the plane while we were waiting to get off. and now this.

those sponge cakes sure don't last: i had to throw out my latest pastry purchase because it'd gotten moldy. so i ended up getting 4 meat buns and a sweetened soy milk for breakfast (RMB$3). tell me where in america can you get breakfast this cheap? there are also a slew of little shops serving a variety of breakfast meals, from rice porridge to spicy noodles. i'm still not used to eating a big breakfast.

we had an impromptu claims department meeting in the walkway area between our cubicles. i noticed that everyone working in my department has attached earlobes except me. just a random observation during a time when i should've been paying closer attention.

i spoke with teacher gu today while she was getting some hot water for her tea. she said they're still looking for a new larger apartment for me to relocate to. i told her that wasn't necessary, that i really like the place i'm living in now. granted, i haven't seen the apartments of my fellow coworkers, only one empty apartment the company was thinking about renting. maybe everyone else has a way better place compared to mine, but i really am a man of simple tastes. now that i finally have wifi, there really isn't anything else i could want. sure, it's hard to entertain when the centerpiece of my apartment is my bed, but it depends on what you mean by entertain. there's also the kitchen with it's little island but the 2 stools i have are way too short to use around the countertop.

i realized today that mr.lee my korean boss is a smoker. i see him disappearing periodically with some other korean coworkers, and i know now they're going out to smoke. i wonder if smoking is as much an epidemic in korea as it is in china? somehow i feel koreans are healthier but smoking in general is still very pervasive across asia. i'll give him a few pack of the cigarettes my cousin gave me in shenyang.

i finally got the courage to write ms.pan an e-mail. i see her all the time, in the office, on the bus, in the cafeteria, but it never seemed like a good time to chat. i sent her a fairly innocuous message asking about her english name (vica) which i'd never heard before. she wrote back saying it's something she created, an acronym of her personality. she also made it easy by asking if i like hot pot. one thing lead to another, and i'm having hot pot with her and some friends next week, maybe visit chongqing one of these weekends.

after dinner, luoren and i took the 2nd shuttle bus back into the city. tonight (7:30) we were going to play badminton at the changshou gymnasium but first i needed a racket. i'd seen prices at the big supermarket and they're around RMB$200 for a single racket. i just want something cheap to play with and maybe toss when i leave china. i remember seeing rackets in a little mom & pop convenience store next to my apartment. these were definitely cheaper. a pair of rackets in a carrying sleeve costs just RMB$65 (US$10.65). i ended up getting a matching set that was just a bit more expensive, RMB$110 (US$18). the store owner gave me a shuttlecock for free, which kind of makes me wonder if i should've haggled the price a little bit (even though they had price stickers), but it's already pretty cheap. these rackets are good enough i'm going to try and bring them back to the US if i can since it'd be a shame to leave them behind.

i returned to the apartment (the puke had been cleaned up) to change into my gym clothes, put on my contact lenses (haven't worn them since kenting, taiwan, which seems like a lifetime ago, but less than a month), and took a shower. i then grabbed my rackets and shuttlecock and walked down to the gymnasium to meet luoren. he actually recognize me from behind and was calling my name.

inside the gymnasium, they converted an indoor basketball court into several badminton courts. the company actually has a tab so we don't have to pay anything to rent one of the courts. when we arrived all the courts were in use, but one of the courts reserved by the korean half of the company wasn't being used yet so luoren and i took it over.

i haven't played badminton since the early 90's, in my parents' backyard. badminton, like ping pong, is played for fun in the US, but here in china they take it very seriously. i just wanted to play for fun and fortunately luoren did too. one of the korean employees (who turned out to be chinese) played with us for a little as well, me and him against luoren. i was already sweating after a few minutes and realized the air conditioner wasn't turned on. the gym has AC but they leave it off because the air circulation affects the way the shuttlecock flies through the air. after half an hour i was already tired and ready to go home. after some rest i continued playing, and somehow managed to last until 9:00.

i chatted with one of the korean employees. he wasn't korean either but chinese. when he heard where i came from, he asked me why i was working for the chinese half when i should be working for the korean side which takes better care of their employees.

i play left handed usually, but the shuttlecock flies through the air so slowly that i can often times change to my right hand and still hit it. my weak spot is my right side since i'm primarily left-handed. my left forearm is going to be sore tomorrow morning, as well as my left thigh. i also have a bruise on my right forearm from being hit with my own racket a few times trying to chase the shuttlecock. i like to dive for the shuttlecock, perfectly happy to sacrifice my body for badminton, which made luoren gasp every time because it's simply not done. "that's how you get injured!" he told me. he was playing double in the next court against 2 older opponents and one of the guys did just that, diving for the shuttlecock and twisting an ankle. that was our cue to go home. "i wasn't even playing that hard," luoren told me. perhaps he was a jock in his younger days.

when i got home, i did a load of laundry, including the clothes i wore today (an all black ensemble, now that i realize you can wear short-sleeved shirts in the office) and my sweaty gym clothes.