i stood in the tiny doorway outside the stairwell of an apartment building directly across from where the large shuttle bus usually parks. fy saw me, gave me a quick nod, and walked away. she wore another new outfit, a tiny black leather jacket that made her look like a biker chick. the only thing off about the ensemble were the 80's shoulder pads, but it's a china style issue. that short interaction was enough to get me to take the medium bus when it arrived.
i remembered my earbuds this time, finally had some music to ease me into work. our driver pulled a maneuver i'd never seen before, did a u-turn on the road to take a shortcut that gave us a 10 minute lead over the big buses (which actually left before we did). zeng fei was on the medium bus today, just one empty seat away from me. it's only a matter of time! i also noticed that only girls seem to take the medium bus for some strange reason. i was the only guy (besides the driver) surrounded by about a dozen young ladies. why wouldn't i take the medium bus every day from now on?
i buried myself with work today while following game 5 between the red sox and tigers online. combined with my collection of celestial seasoning teas, i was in a pretty good mood, despite trying very hard to ignore fy.
yuwei helped me to book a hotel for tomorrow night after i tried calling the place in chongqing i stayed at last time. i should've called earlier, because they were all booked up, both places. actually, there was one room available, but it was RMB$240. the last time i booked it was on a weekday right before the national holiday week so business was still slow. the place yuwei got me is still in the jiefangbei around and only RMB$127 but the room doesn't have a window or internet. it doesn't matter, i'm basically there just to take a shower and sleep, waking up early the next morning to take the subway to the airport for my 8:55 flight to kangding.
i talked with admin about whether or not there was a bus tomorrow that could take me to yanjia, the closest town that i could catch a ride into chongqing, without having to go all the way back to changshou. "you know there's a free company bus that goes directly to the chongqing airport," zhuyan told me. unfortunately that bus leaves at 2:30. or rather, fortunately, because that means i have a legitimate excuse to leave work a few hours early. there was still enough seats so i reserved a spot for myself.
i talked with mrs.gu about the new vacation schedule. i told her my contract clearly stipulates that i get a week off every 2 months. she whispered to me that if i went on vacation in december, nobody would say no. that made me a little less angry, but i still would like my saturdays free as well.
lunch was awful, a portion of greens, a portion of potatoes, and a nondescript serving of fried bits of meat that could've been either chicken or pork. i do nothing to hide my disgust when i'm given inedible foods. i ate what i could, then hurriedly got up and dumped my tray while everyone was still eating.
after lunch i went on a walk with xiao. he was tired of the same old route, so we decided to walk down the main drag. the rain from yesterday dampened the road so it wasn't clogged with dust like it normally is. we walked behind the chemical factory and the cement factory. every few minutes we'd smell something different and awful. we could see rusty factory buildings, leaning smoke stacks, and scariest of them all - pipes that were leaking steam or so under pressure we see and hear it shuddering as we walk by, as if it was about to burst. and there was nobody around either, we could've easily snuck inside and taken a self-guided tour of the factory grounds.
i can't seem to get google access at all from my apartment so i brought my tablet pc into the office today to download some western sichuan maps. i ended up restoring the google maps app to the factory default because it wasn't displaying anything.
fy was in more of a talkative mood after lunch today and chatted with loren and i. this put me in a good mood, but only because i'm delusional and see any kind of attention from her as a sign she's interested when in fact she's clearly not. she asked where i got my clothes altered, since she had something she wanted shortened. i asked about her clothes, she said the jacket she's had for the past 2 years, and she's worn it before, it was just new to me. she asked if i was going on vacation, which frankly makes me a little sad that she didn't know this. 2 weeks ago i'd invited her to come along but she said she couldn't get away. sometimes i forget my coworkers are not my playmates. they're here primarily to work and make money; i still think i'm on my china vacation and working is part of the immersive experience.
i asked fy to see if she could check how many talk minutes i had left on my cellphone. she wasn't able to figure out the special code to activate the minute check, but she did do something i didn't realize you could do: she raised the volume. i've always found the volume to be really soft on my nokia, but nowhere did i see any settings to increase the volume. i figured since it was a cheap phone, maybe there wasn't that option. turns out there is, but just hidden. when you're making a call, pressing the forward or backward button with increase/decrease the volume.
chehong sent out an e-mail to all the newish employees (that includes me) about picking up a company safety vest. i went with her to the storage closet and she said they only had them in small, which was perfect, since that was the size i wanted. i don't know if i'd wear it in the office, but it might be useful when i go back home to the US and resume my bicycling ways. they also had some uniforms, but only in small and large. the large was too large, the small was a bit tight, and also a lady's uniform. chehong didn't know this so i told her about how the buttons on a lady's shirt is on the left side, while on a man's shirt it's on the right side.
lihui wasn't at work once again. he's possibly the laziest employee i know. sometime in the afternoon he called me and said that a computer technician was going to arrive today and call my phone and my job was to go greet him and help him sign for a visitor's pass. i was kind of annoyed that he was asking me to basically do his job that he wasn't here to do (he was in chongqing for a job interview) and quickly agreed so i could end the call. he called back minutes later, asking me to hand my phone over to fy because he didn't think i understood his instructions. i told him i understood and hung up. a few hours later the technician called me. turns out lihui gave him the wrong serial number so the guy couldn't fix the broken computer for bureaucratic reasons.
i told mr.song (the korean head of admin who speaks both chinese and english) that i was leaving for western sichuan on sunday. he told me he was so jealous and would love to go with me but doesn't have the time. people who know the area can appreciate what i'm doing. otherwise, when i tell people i'm going to ganzi, they first remark how far it is, then they ask why would i want to go there. it's precisely for those 2 reasons that i want to go - far away and very few people.
fy didn't have the office dinner, said she had some business to take care of after work. dinner with the guys was a bit better, i actually finished. we ended up catching the 2nd bus, arriving in town right when the sky was about to go black.
this was my last night in changshou for leaving tomorrow, so i picked up some last minutes items. i went to the small supermarket to buy up some fishermen's friend cough drops (RMB$18 each). my cough will probably not be getting any better during my vacation, so i better have the proper ammunition. i bumped into xianglian while she was paying for a bottle of soy sauce.
next i went to chongbai supermarket to look for wool socks. the most expensive socks they had was 2 pairs for RMB$24, a blend of 27% wool, 12% angora (rabbit), 28% acrylic, 3% spandex, and 30% polyester. i bought 3 packs for 6 pairs. when i got home and tried them on, they were a bit thinner than i'd imagined, but hopefully they'll keep my feet warm.
there was some sort of promotional giveaway happening in the pedestrian walkway area below fy's apartment. i stayed a bit to watch the ensuing crush of humanity clamoring for free stuff. i saw xiao there with his son, i said hello before leaving.
i did a small load of laundry, didn't want dirty clothes lying in the washer for the next week. i then started packing, putting clothes into ziploc bags and throwing them into my backpack. i didn't think i had that much stuff but i ended up nearly filling the bag. i'm basically bringing all my t-shirts and underwears, figuring i wouldn't be doing any laundry until i came back. i'm also taking all my jackets, figured i would decide when i get there what kind of clothes i needed.
so i will most likely be out of communique for the next few days as i travel westward into kham tibetan territory. if any of the places i stay at has internet access, you can be sure i'll post a blog entry. otherwise, it may take me a week before i return to changshou.