apparently pansusu will not rest until he sees me in a better apartment. this morning the head admin mr.ma told me on the bus that my new apartment will soon be ready, just that the AC duct needs to go through a neighbor's wall and said neighbor is currently on vacation so they can't gain access just yet. i told mr.ma in no uncertain terms that i like my current apartment, as small as it may be. what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character and convenience. a little garden oasis right outside my door, a mahjong parlor on the 3rd floor, shuttle bus out front, streets lined with food shops, 2 supermarkets nearby, and surrounded by friends. but he gave me a look that said, "to be continued."
after lunch the housing guy got in touch with me, said we'd be returning to the city around 2:00 so he could help me move. what? wasn't the new apartment still waiting for the neighbor to return? oh, that's already taken care of, liao ke told me. i told him i didn't want to move. he said to talk to his boss, mr.ma. i waited until after the break period to speak with him. by then they'd already broken me down. i was resigned to move, but not immediately, at least give me a few days to pack up my things, say good bye to the old apartment.
after work i went with loren and lihui into old changshou for dinner, with special guest fengya. the occasion was to welcome back fengya back from her vacation, but i think she would've came with us anyway if we just simply invited her. we asked the shuttle bus driver to drive us there since she was heading that way anyway.
tonight i would try skewered "chuan chuan" hot pot, a special style of hot pot that involved food on sticks. we didn't really have a place in mind, and picked the one that seemed to be the most crowded. ideally we'd sit outside for hot pot (and for better photography), but today was unusually cool (75°F, normally it's around 90°+) and it looked like it'd rain, so we sat inside.
food selection is self-serve, as you visit banks of glass door refrigerators, picking out what you want to cook. everything from various cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb, smoked sausages, fish) to vegetables (sweet pumpkin is the best) and mushrooms and specialty items like fish balls or quail eggs. each skewered item costs RMB30¢, with the more expensive items on shorter thicker skewers that cost RMB$1 each.
the hot pot bowl resembled a pincushion of skewers. chuan chuan hot pot is inherently a messy affair, and i ended up splattering hot oil onto loren and he himself splattered oil all over his khakis. i had on my black pants this time so i wasn't as worried, but still concerned i might stain my white shirt (i was tempted to strip it off and eat in my tank top undershirt).
lihui kept humorously scolding us, said we were eating so little, that he could easily by himself eat a few hundred skewers-worth of food. all three of my dining companions were sichuanese, and would periodically bark orders in the local dialect to the waitresses.
fengya is a cool chick. she sits in my cubicle area, behind me and next to loren. i haven't really talked to her until a day or two after she was about to leave on her one week vacation. when i first started, she wore these karate pants to work. then one day during lunch i think she overheard me saying how i enjoyed watching the scenery, and she misinterpreted that as me saying that i like checking out the ladies. from that day on she was all girlie with her appearance. maybe it was just a coincidence (maybe it was laundry day for her when i first began working), who knows. she's kind of like that girl who's one of the guys, calling dudes out on their bullshit, occasionally playfully punching them in the arm. she's definitely not mousy like some of the other girls i know in the office.
i asked fengya what she does with her free time. she says she does a lot of running at the sports stadium. when i asked how many laps, she said 3. that's a little bit over 1km. don't people know the proper distance is 5km? i want to get back into running, apparently a lot of office ladies do it to get in shape. i need proper sneakers though, and better shorts. maybe sunday i'll do some shopping in old changshou. unfortunately i don't think there are any good places to run around here that don't have a risk of being hit by a car other than the stadium. track running is excruciatingly boring, i'll probably listen to a book on tape while i jog (i'm currently working on lexicon).
when we were done eating, they counted up the total number of skewers to come up with the bill. including the beers and bowls of rice and the additional of smoked spareribs, the check was just RMB$198, around US$32, not bad. original lihui (huey) was supposed to treat, but i got the sense he was feeling pinched in the pocket. even on the bus ride into old changshou, he was saying how he wasn't going to drink, which i interpreted as an attempt to make the evening cheaper. i should've told him earlier i was planning on treating. normally i'm quite the cheapskate, but last night my parents reminded me that i make 4x as much, so i really should be treating every single time. lihui seemed relieved to be off the hook, said he'd treat next time.
we walked back to the rotary, and made it as far as the qian bus station before we felt droplets of rain and decided to hail a taxi. the three of us got dropped off first while loren remained in the taxi. i gave him an RMB$10 to pay for the taxi fare. he refused at first, but i told him when i treat people to dinner, that includes transportation cost as well.
instead of going straight home, i went to go see my future apartment, at least the outside. i live on one side of the chongbai mall. the entrance to the new apartment is on the other side, next to a dico's fried chicken restaurant. the apartment complex is actually attached to the mall itself, but has its own entrance. from there i walked to where i normally take the shuttle bus to work, just to see how long it'd take. i timed it and it was at least 5 minutes. compare that to my current place, where i can get to the bus stop in about 2 minutes. it's just a few minutes difference, and if the mall is opened in the mornings, i can cut through the mall as a shortcut. is a few extra minutes to get to the shuttle bus that much of a sacrifice for a larger fancier apartment? i guess i'll find out. tomorrow i want to see the place for myself just to see what it's like but i'll probably end up moving by the end of this week.