i woke up at 8am, just 7 hours of sleep, but i wanted to enjoy the hotel apartment a bit more before checking out around noontime. i realized that there was an android version of utorrent that i could use to download shows as long as i had a good internet connection. suddenly i didn't have to wait until i got back home to see the series finale of breaking bad! i'd been avoiding online spoilers, reading entertainment news with squinted eyes. so after a shower, i watched the finale while i ate those meat patties (turns out they're vegetarian, meigancai) then finished in bed.
checking out was a hassle because my contact person was still asleep even though it was almost 12:00. plus, the elevator card is only keyed to a specific floor, so i couldn't reach the 10th floor from the 21st. some cleaning ladies helped me, and i ended up transacting with apartment hotel broker who paid me my deposit. i took her business card, i'm pretty sure i'll be back.
outside in jeifangbei on food street, i suddenly found myself face-to-face with the horrors of a sea of chinese people. my plan earlier was to travel to the southern part of chongqing city, where it was still accessible by metro but far enough away from the city center that i might be able to score a hotel room. unfortunately it probably wouldn't be cheap, as all hotels go by their posted rate this week. so i decided i'd go back to changshou instead.
i visited the bookstore to buy a china map book. chinese-published books are surprisingly cheap. with more than a billion consumers, a good book can be priced cheaply but still make a profit. i was just going to get a general china map book until i saw they had ones specific to provinces. the one i was interested in was sichuan, with contains both luzhou/yibin, places i'll be visiting with the next few days, and western sichuan, where i'll be visiting in a few weeks. they come in different sizes, after comparing them all, i decided on the pocket-sized version because it was more convenient to carry. cost of a 218 paged map book? RMB$15, less than US$2. i want to buy a whole bunch of chinese travel books and ship them back for my parents.
afterwards i went to caiyuanba bus station, to see if i could catch the crowd of travelers. i found the very long escalator and rode it down (RMB$2) to the bus/train stations. it wasn't as crazy as i thought. there were lot of people, but they were all waiting inside. outside was relatively calm, like any other day. i hung out at the station taking photos before going to guanyin bridge.
at guanyinchao i was looking for a heavier winter coat for my western sichuan trip. i went back to H&M, where they had ones for RMB$499. they're okay, about US$80. i'm hoping to score something cheaper. i was there for a while, visiting stores after stores, including some chinese name-brands, which had pretty poor craftsmanship despite the high price (RMB$2000+). i left without buying anything, but stopped by a KFC for a late lunch. i got the chicken sandwich but didn't realize it was "chuan flavor" as in "sichuan" which meant a dressing of hot sauce. it was okay, but i was hoping to avoid the spiciness. next time i'll ask for the original recipe.
the scene outside the northern bus station back to changshou was several long lines. they were all going to specific places, but people looking to get to changshou could just go inside the station without waiting. it was weird returning to changshou, knowing that in about 12 more hours i'd be coming back to chongqing. but a RMB$31 bus ticket is still cheaper than trying to find a hotel room which i'd guess would be RMB$400+ easily, provided i can even find a place. save that money for a new coat!
i did a quick load of laundry. it was still early enough in the evening that i went out for a haircut. i tried a new place, a salon i pass by daily, next to the pastry shop. haircuts are only RMB$25, which includes pre- and post-washing. the washing is my favorite part, like getting a scalp massage. just thinking about it puts me in a calm mood. they asked me if i had a stylist in mind. since this was my first time, they assigned one to me, a very attractive young woman with a great smile. from my accent she knew i wasn't local. "where are you from?" she asked. "it's complicated," i told her, then explained my confusing pedigree. when i asked her if she knew any english, she said she never attended school. she's also not from here either but rather jiangxi. they told me her name, but i forgot it. when i asked for it again, they said just ask for number 13. all the washing sinks were occupied so i left without a wash.
i then went to get dinner at the rice porridge place. RMB$15 for a chicken rice porridge, kind of expensive, but still only just US$2. afterwards when i passed by the salon i saw ms.13 outside and we waved to each other.