i left the apartment early this morning so i could visit the rice porridge restaurant. a fellow coworker who sits just a cubicle diagonally from me at the office was eating there and invited me to sit next to him. i ended up having the salty 1000-year egg rice porridge, along with 2 meatbuns. my coworker ended up treating so i wasn't sure how much (probably RMB$5).
at work i decided i wasn't going to eat the office dinner tonight. instead i would have some hot pot, to recharge my appetite for the rest of the week. i asked lihui if he wanted to come, he said sure and that he was treating. i told him i'd try to invite a few girls. originally i was going to ask yuwei and wangyan, but i ended up just asking fengya. she said sure, even though i knew we'd have to lie to our other coworkers whom i didn't invite. fengya later asked if i knew lihui very well. even though we'd been out for hot pot once before (in old changshou), i got the feeling she was still sort of leery of him, that he gave off a shifty vibe.
we grabbed the first bus leaving the office at 6:00. back in town, we decided to try 158 old hot pot. it's called old hot pot because the reuse the spicy hot cooking oil. some might say it's unsanitary, but others feel this is the more authentic chongqing hot pot experience. the place was okay, but not as good as the hot pot place we went last saturday night. also lihui and fengya didn't really know each other; they played nice, but the dynamic wasn't quite right. maybe i should've invited loren, maybe he was the missing ingredient to the puzzle. on top of that, we sat next to a few really loud tables that were so noisy they were beginning to drown out our conversations. i told fengya my story about the girls who hate me in the office.
by dinner end by mouth was numb from the numerous sichuan pepper corns i ingested. my stomach felt like burning. previously i had envisioned a week of hot pot, but now i realize that's pretty much impossible. not only is hot pot not that healthy (at least not the chongqing style spicy ma-la variety) but it's also kind of expensive.
lihui ended up treating even though i made an effort to pay (i'd already treated him twice). the bill was RMB$160, around US$26. afterwards he went home while fengya suggested to me that we should walk to changshou ancient town to work off dinner, a walk she often makes with our other coworkers. i agreed since i'd never been there and wanted to see the place for myself.
changshou itself has nearly zero tourist destinations. it has a man-made lake reservoir, that's about it. so the city invested money to create an artificial ancient town, which is essentially a commercial zone. i'd see it from the highway every time i went to chongqing. i never made an effort to visit because i knew it was fake and it also seemed too far to walk. but fengya told me yesterday she walks there all the time, so it wasn't that far. when i finally set foot in the ancient town though, i was pleasantly surprised by how pretty it was. there wasn't that many people, but that only made it better. fengya was on the phone with her upset mother speaking in sichuanese during the whole time it took us to walk to the ancient town - about 15-20 minutes. we also ran into some office people, but i only found out later since i wasn't paying too much attention (including mr.wang, the secondary project manager). once we arrived, we went inside and walked around. sure it might be cheesy, but once you get can get over that, it's a very pleasant place and i plan on coming back here often.
leaving the ancient town, fengya seemed lost but i knew exactly where we were. i've never been good with directions and i get lost plenty of times, but from years of traveling i've gotten good at figuring out where i am. walking back into the new changshou, we passed the lead civil engineer of the korean half of our consortium.
back at my place, the first thing i did was to go into the kitchen to scrub off the hot pot oil stains from my blue shirt. it took me a few seconds to realize the reason why no water was coming out of the faucet was because there was no water in the apartment. that's great. not only did i need to do laundry, but i was sticky with sweat and desperately needed a shower. i even went downstairs to talk with gatekeeper. she told me it was a pipe outside the building that burst. she didn't seem particularly concerned, or maybe here in china they're used to the water just suddenly going out for no reason. she also didn't know when the water would be back.
i decided i had nothing better to do than sleep. after flossing, i brushed my teeth with the leftover water i use to cook my hard-boiled egg in, and whatever left over i used to wash my face.
around 11:30pm i heard the hiss of water filling the toilet tank. i checked the faucet and sure enough, we had water again. i washed my shirt then took a much-deserved shower.