it was cold again last night. this is unrelated to the fact that it's september and i still turn on my air conditioner when i get home, otherwise the room can feel a little stuffy. i turn off the AC before i go to bed, and although it's chilly at first, the effect is temporary and soon the room warms up. but it's a false warmth, because although it gets more humid, it's actually on the cold side. once more, i had to use the duvet cover. eventually this won't be enough and i'll have to bring out the actual blanket, which is this thick roll of seemingly used cotton fabric. they don't do down comforters here, or the company just doesn't give them out.
i went to bed late again, close to 12:30. how this happened i don't know, because by 10:00 i was already ready for sleep. i wasn't actually in bed with the lights out until 11:30. and then my web surfing took a detour and i stayed up for another hour. i was inspired by a fanciful thought: the chinese independence day holiday is coming up at the start of october, i have a week off. also during that time i'm due for another week long vacation that comes after every 2 months of work. maybe i can combine the 2 vacation weeks and possibly travel to japan? i haven't been there in a while (8 years). crashing with my friends is out of the question (now that they all have families) but i was thinking i could rent an apartment in tokyo for a few weeks. i need to research 3 things: airfare price, apartment options, and how to get a japan rail (JR) pass. japan isn't my only option. i can take my 2 month salary and travel anywhere in asia. why i never really gave this much thought i don't know. maybe i was too preoccupied with the details to grasp the big picture. i can pretty much just close my eyes and throw a dart at a map. the only downside is i only have a week of vacation, 2 weeks at the most. leaving china is a good idea, to escape the crush of locals during the holiday.
this morning i experienced an evacuation delay that added 10 additional minutes to my usual routine. there would be no time for a hard-boiled egg, which takes at least 10 minutes to prepare. if i only had an electric kettle! i heard the company will pay for one if i get a receipt for reimbursement. electric kettles also work faster here, with china's 220 voltage. maybe it's time. the tap water is still highly suspect, but as long as i only drink what's on the surface, i should be okay from the scary floating bits on the bottom.
instead of eating eggs, i took several gulps of yogurt drink (not bad RMB$10.59 for a 980g carton) and held half a loaf of bread in my mouth as i left the apartment. there was a slight drizzle but i didn't mind getting a little damp, as i walked by people clutching umbrellas. i took the medium bus again, this time sitting with ms.pan up in front. we chatted briefly about breakfast before she took a little 20 minute nap as we petered to the office. i dug out my tablet pc and followed our route on the map via gps. this is my 4th week working here and i'm still not sure about the way we get to our work site. it was pretty enlightening, but my hisense tablet can't do cookie crumb trail marking like a hiking gps. for times like this, i wish i didn't return that garmin gps after all.
not counting my khakis, i only have 3 pairs of pants that i go through twice a week on a circulating basis. i really ought to buy a few more pairs of pants. my current 3 pairs all have their own stories and personality. pair number one i bought in shanghai 7 years ago, i don't remember how much i paid. they're comfortable but a big baggy, and also a little weathered with age. these were the pants i wore when i traveled 3 months through china 7 years ago, so they've been around. pair number two i bought in shanghai again but more recently, back when i was living in zhangjiang, near the airport. they were originally RMB$240 i think, but discounted to RMB$140 (US$23). these are a great pair, almost tailored to fit, with a type of stretchy fabric that doesn't wrinkle. these are my favorite pair and in hindsight i wish i bought a few more just like them, but at the time i thought there'd be more options down the road. my third pair i bought in shenyang, at the five love wholesale department store. i also paid RMB$140 for them, but they're vastly inferior. they're china pants, with seemingly useless accents like zippered back pockets with stripings, and edgings made with a different fabric. the sewing lines are also visible (as if i'm wearing these pants inside out). the only good thing about these pants is that they fit and they're not baggy. ideally i'd want 3 more pairs so i can wear a different pair for each day of the week, saving myself from having to decide every morning what to wear (not that it's that difficult, since i only have so much options). my only consideration is whatever i pay, i will either have to leave behind or take with me when i leave.
fengya dropped a few chestnuts on my desk. they were still warm like they'd just been toasted. i was confused when she said she just got them, couldn't figure out how she could 1) leave the office, and 2) find a place to buy fresh chestnuts. turns out a friend of hers mail these to her, and she zapped them in the microwave to warm them up. i taught her that 板栗 is called "chestnut" in english and she went online and looked like a few other favorite nuts and their english names: walnut, almond, and pistachio - or as she likes to call them, "happy fruit" since that's the literal chinese translation (开心果).
during lunch i jumped ship and went to go sit with yuwei and wangyan. i actually wanted to sit closer to that really pretty girl i mentioned yesterday, who seems to be their friend, or at least know them. they're all in a clique of pretty office ladies and i'm tying to infiltrate their group. it's actually not that hard, since most office guys are married so they tend to stay away from them. girls hang out with girls, boys hang out with boys. i just don't want to be too obvious. i had my chance but i didn't get to speak with the pretty girl before she finished eating and left. i talked moon cake with yuwei and wangyan. yuwei doesn't like moon cakes but wangyan loves them. "you guys should really get together, you have so many similar interests," yuwei chided.
after lunch i hung out outside our office building with fengya and one of the guys in our lunch clique. he's from tianjin, married with a 4-year-old kid. he asked me a bunch of questions about america, specifically how states and cities are organized, since it's a little different here in china. he invited me to go eat hot pot and drink one of these nights. they actually all went out last night (despite the rain), stumbling drunk back home, fengya their designated carrier, making sure they all got back in one piece.
dinner wasn't that great and i wasn't in any mood to eat more than i had too, remembering that i had moon cakes back at home. earlier in the office i had a date paste ("zaoni") moon cake, but it wasn't like i imagined, more like green bean paste. when i got home i did a load of laundry, played an episode of the bridge on the HDTV, and ate a "rock candy black prune" paste moon cake. the name sounded kind of delicious, but it tasted like red bean paste, nothing special. so far all the mini moon cakes i've bought haven't been very good. i also learned what i thought to be turkey leg is actually smoked pork. it sort of makes sense now, because turkey leg is a really random filling. but for the past 8 years i thought that's what that was.
when i chatted briefly with my parents tonight, they told me they were going to cancel my comcast service once my september tenants leave at the end of the month. if i'm really not going to come back to boston until after the spring, this will probably save me 6-7 months of service i'm not using, which can add up to almost US$1000. plus, when i come back, i may qualify as a new subscriber, and get some additional discounts. here's another thing i'm trying to negotiate while in china: my furnace needs to be replaced. i was going to come home and take care of that, but my parents said it'd be a waste of airfare. i can call the heating guys to make arrangements, but i can only do it at nights when it's daytime back in boston.