it was foggy this morning, but at least it wasn't raining. by the middle of the day it was clear enough to spot in the half moon in the sky and for the temperature to get hot and bright enough that people were once again reluctant to leave the confines of the office.
fengya invited me to dinner sunday night. she was worried i wouldn't be able to make it because she heard i was going to be in chongqing. i made a fool of myself because i thought she was cooking the meal herself, and said that whatever she made would be fine, and i'd try to come back early to help out in the kitchen. turns out she meant we were going out to eat instead. she also invited another guy friend (zhou from zhejiang), which gave her an out, because it wasn't just dinner for two now, it was simply a group dinner.
in the late afternoon i got a text message on my phone. 99% they're junk messages that i can't even read, but there was something particular about this message and i'm glad i didn't just simply erase it out of habit. it was a text from my bank (ICBC) telling me the amount of money that was just deposited into my account. my first paycheck! it felt a little weird. i can't even remember the last time i drew a steady paycheck (instead of just a lump sum for a single project). it felt nice, nostalgia mixed with relief. i probably had less than RMB$1300 (around US$200) in my bank account and if i was thinking about taking a trip for the holidays starting next week, there wasn't enough money left. 13% of my salary was missing: most of that went into taxes, while mr.wu in shanghai gets an RMB$500 (US$82) cut every month since apparently i'm officially contracted through his company.
i also tried looking up airfares. i checked more than a week ago and prices were still cheap. a roundtrip flight to tokyo was less than US$600, anywhere southeast asia was US$300-400. what i saw today shocked me: no international flights less than US$1000 during the chinese national holiday starting in october. fantasies of visiting south korea, or returning to angkor wat or myanmar, were all dashed. with the holiday adjusted price increase, it was simply too expensive to do any traveling. and forget about domestic destinations: never mind the airfares, hotel rates all double and triple as well. i will end up speaking that weeklong holiday just in changshou and chongqing. another more adventurous option is to travel west to sichuan and into tibet via chengdu. i have no fixed plan, just go where the bus will take me. i don't think those remote places will be too crowded and i'm sure i'll be able to find a place to stay. my only concerns are: 1) will i suffer altitude sickness? 2) will chinese highway patrol allow me to cross into tibet with a taiwan-china visa? and 3) will i be able to survive the high altitude temperature change? i'm hoping to pick up a more detailed map when i go to chongqing on sunday.
i went to the chongbai supermarket after work. i bumped into yangyi, getting some pastries and a bottle of shampoo. he accompanied me while i finished my shopping: asian pears, shaving razors, chinese ham moon cakes, mints. we left via the northern exit, where he had his apartment. unlike most other employees, yangyi actually rents his own apartment with a stipend from the company. this way he can live by himself and not have to potentially live with a roommate. i went back to the duck place and picked up another half kilo bag of duck feet (RMB$18). then i went back to a fruit vendor selling on the street and bought a bag of longans for only RMB$16.
it was warm and dry enough for an excellent night of running. my body didn't hurt at all, even though i pushed myself for that lap and a half around the track last night. i thought about going for another run, but since i was going alone, it was easy to come up with an excuse and i ended up not going.
at 9:00 i made several long distance phone calls to my health insurance company and hospitals back in boston. my prior authorization should've gone through last week but i never heard back from them. turns out it was denied, because my new insurance wanted me to try a cheaper HBP drug first - losartan. thing is, i've tried losartan before, and it doesn't do anything for me. unfortunately it was during a time when i not only switched insurance but hospitals as well, going from MGH to mt.auburn hospital. MGH didn't have my complete records, but the nurse said she'd try to figure something out with the insurance company because of my special case (out of the country and whatnot). later i called mt.auburn hospital to get them to fax over my records to MGH. however, they needed me to submit a records release form in writing. i told them that wasn't very likely since i was in china. they said i could do it via e-mail, so i ended up doing that. not sure if it worked since i never heard back from them. i'll find out monday evening (monday night back in the US) when i call them back.