i went to bed last night at 10:30, woke up this morning at 7:00. the headache was gone, i was in a much better condition than i was yesterday. i had the AC dehumidifier running overnight (which made a the room slightly chilly, but a manageable 66 degrees), but my shoes were still wet. i got ready for my lunch appointment with shirley at 10:00.
i brought the daffodil bulb (already sprouting lovely green shoots), the bottle of apple vinegar drink, and a bag of dove chocolate. shirley's apartment is only across the street from mine, above the yarn store i visited a few days ago. getting into the apartment was kind of difficult. the main door required a keycode to open - which she gave me - but i couldn't get it to work. finally i snuck in when a tenant went inside with a key.
shirley's roommate greeted me at the door of their 5th floor apartment. shirley peeked out from the kitchen, already busy with her cooking preparations.
besides shirley, her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend were also eating with us. also included was another friend, a young woman from the office i vaguely recognized but never talked to before. i saw her knitting in the living room and asked her some knitting questions. she didn't seem very savvy to answering, but before i left i told her i do some knitting as well (in the broadest of knitting terms) and she quickly called me back with more interest this time around.
as far as food goes, i set the bar pretty high. if i don't like something, i have a hard time lying and saying i do. lunch was okay. i definitely appreciate the effort, but i'm more of a bowl of noodles sort of guy. the typical chinese fare of a bowl of rice with several dishes, you have to make something pretty spectacular to impress me. there were a few things i never had before though. like dried smoked bamboo shoots. or potato and rice. or seafood mushrooms. i even had a second bowl of rice, but more of a gesture; as soon as i began eating, i realized i was hitting my wall and slowed down considerably but still finally managed to finish.
after dinner we played some mahjong using their automatic mahjong table that can quickly rearrange the tiles for you. i don't remember the last time i played mahjong, and it was probably with computer opponents. the last time with actual humans i can't even remember. they played pretty fast, and i had a hard time catching up. my big weakness is matching the chinese numeral tiles; i much rather prefer the dots or the sticks, since they're easier to visualize. we didn't play with money but used playing cards as chips. i ended up losing all my money after a few short rounds. shirley's roommate - the big winner - ended up giving me some of her cards, but after a few more rounds i ended up losing those as well. we played for well over an hour and a half, and would've played more had shirley not gone upstairs to use the bathroom and her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend were thinking about going to see a movie so we moved the table (quite heavy) back against the wall.
when i left, shirley said she got the feeling i didn't like the food. i tried to convince her otherwise, saying i tried many things i never had before, but fell short of saying it was a spectacular meal. it was definitely memorable though, and watching her cook for 2 hours was pretty amazing. also nobody here has ever invited me to a homecooked meal before, so this was a first.
i left shirley's place around 2:40 and came home to use the bathroom. i was actually feeling some digestive upsets all day (even before i arrived for lunch) but managed to keep the danger at bay, even gutting it out long enough to play an hour and a half of mahjong. this is probably still side effects from friday night's drinking debacle, another reminder to abstain from alcohol (hard alcohol anyway).
after a shower, i packaged up the items i wanted to ship back to the US into a box i secured from the office a week or so ago. i wasn't actually going to ship anything, just wanted to find out how much it'd cost first. i might've said this before, but there are many china post offices all over town. however, they're all banks. at some point the china post office decided it'd go into the banking business (since there's usually a post office in every town, big or small, but not every town has a bank), so now finding an actual post office has become far more complicated. but mrs.gu told me that there was a post office across from the town library, close to the stadium. with box in hand, i walked down there, asking for direction once when i wasn't sure i was going the right way.
this post office was mostly a bank (with a security guard and ATM's and tellers), with a small area for actual postal services. they were very helpful: helpful in telling me that they couldn't help me. the reason? this was a new office, and they don't have the infrastructure to do international shipping yet. my next option? try the post office in old changshou. they looked up some numbers in a big binder and said whatever the cost, it'd be expensive, in the RMB$100's. since it was still only 3:40, i decided to go to old changshou because the 104 bus stop was right outside.
i got off the bus where the ladies at the previous post office told me to get off, at the old changshou square (where the mall is located). i looked around but couldn't find the distinctive green china post logo anywhere so i had to ask for direction. i ended up at a place called EMS shipping, which is somehow affiliated with china post. apparently china post sometimes outsource their postal service to private third party shipping companies such this one. there was only one rate and it was an expensive one: for a box that weighs about 7 lbs, it was going to cost me close to RMB$700 to ship back to the US, more than US$100. i don't know how it could be so expensive, given that i've shipped 20lbs.+ items to norway for less than US$100.
if i wasn't carrying a box around i would've hung out in old changshou, but i decided to go home instead, catching a 104 bus that took me to the opposite side of the chongbai mall. walking home, i made a stop at the duck dispensary and got myself half a pound of duck feet. i was going to go home and spend the rest of the day snacking on duck parts and watching my backlog of shows and movies. i watched an episode of sleepy hollow, then watched meet the millers. the whole time i had the air conditioner set on dehumidify, as it gently sucked out the moisture from my apartment. around 6:00 i decided to take a short nap. i was prepared to wake up around 8:00, but woke up half an hour later, already refreshed. i spent the next 2 hours lying in bed, sorting through the sports event photos i took from friday.
i wasn't very hungry after that big lunch, but decided i should eat something anyway. i had frozen dumplings in the freezer, but ended up eating some tangyuan with fermented glutinuous rice and egg. i then began working on the blog and finally decided to go to bed around midnight.