i woke up at 8:00, left the haiyou hotel by 9:00, headed to the chengdu east railroad station. this involved walking about a mile south to the chunxi station (i didn't mind watching the steady stream of scooters and bicycles and motorcycles), then taking the subway to the train station, where i had a ticket for a 10:42 departure back to chongqing. the high speed train took just 2 hours.

the closer we got to chongqing, the more i disliked it in favor of chengdu. chongqing is all twisty streets and hills, whereas chengdu is neatly laid out and flat. chongqing is dirty while chengdu is clean (clean for china anyway). chongqing winter weather is perpetually overcast and foggy and the sun rarely seen, whereas chengdu winter weather - albeit colder - is somewhat better as at least the sun can be glimpsed through the morning haze that dissipates by the afternoon to reveal a hint of blue sky. also i've discovered that chengdu ladies are prettier than chongqing ladies (this is obviously subjective). maybe during chinese new year i may return to chengdu, there's still a lot i haven't explored.

when i arrived in chongqing, i went to guanyinchao to see if they had any thermal tops in size S at the uniqlo chain (last day of their buy-2-for-RMB$150 special). unfortunately they carried mostly L and XL sizes, and the few S items they had i didn't like (mostly v-necks or ugly colors). so i ended up not buying anything there.

i then went to hongqihokou (one station away, where i take the bus back to changshou) and walked to lihui's mother wonton shop for some mountain pepper beef wontons (RMB$9) and some tangyuan (RMB$6) for dessert. that was basically my breakfast (2:40) since i didn't eat yet all day. she didn't want me money but i just left it on the table as i left. from the bus station i caught a ride back to chongqing. due to traffic, i didn't get back until almost 5:00.

after 17 days of fermenting, i tried some of my sichuan paocai. not very sour, not very salty either, mostly bitter, and spicy, and ma (numb). at least the taste of alcohol has diminished somewhat. maybe wait another week. the lack of proper fermented sourness is kind of distressing.

i went to the chongbai mall to get a haircut. i've tried 2 other barber shops around where i live, both times with unsatisfactory result (the 2nd shop had a pretty lady stylist who was either fired or went elsewhere with her hair cutting craft, so no reason to go back there). i've heard good things about the chongbai barber shop, with all the korean coworkers getting their haircuts there, and shirley went there to get her haircut recently (although i prefer her hair pre-bangs). it took some effort to find the place; i've only ever seen it from the outside, and didn't know where it was in the mall. the place was upscale and huge - about 4-5 typical store-lengths at least, probably larger. haircuts come in 2 versions: RMB$36 and RMB$68, the difference being the skill level of the stylist. and to call it a barber shop would be inaccurate. here in china, there isn't a differentiation between male and female haircut places. even the cheapest haircut place you can find - maybe on the street in an open market - also caters to ladies as well. anyway, i picked the cheaper option, but asked to speak with the stylist first to tell him how i want my hair cut. while i waited, the attendant poured me a glass of lemon-soaked warm water in a round-bottom tumbler and asked me if i wanted to play with a complimentary ipad as i waited. after speaking with a stylist, only then did i go get my hair washed (routine service for any chinese hair cut place). the washing room was a dimly-lit cavernous chamber surrounded by washing stations with swanky leather seats. these weren't any ordinary chairs though, but rather massaging chairs. after i got my hair washed twice (shampoo and condition), the girl gave me a scalp and neck massage as i waited for my stylist to finish up with his previous customer. i think the girl was probably improvising some massage techniques because towards the end she was slapping the top of my head and i almost told her to stop. my stylist - no.11 - did a satisfactory job. he said he's cut a lot of korean hair, and they usually come in with a photo of the style they want. he said i had good hair because it was naturally wavy.

afterwards i went to get some groceries at the supermarket. i thought about calling shirley but there's too much expectation on new year's eve. lihui called me while i was getting my hair cut, and when i called him back he'd already ate dinner in the office. so instead i ate some frozen dumplings back at the apartment and spent the last day of 2013 the same way i usually spend new year's eve - by myself at home. i did see signs of fireworks coming from changshou ancient town, but that was it in terms of new year's eve celebration. in china they have their own traditional new year's day (based on the lunar calendar), which falls on the end of january in 2014.

i look forward to starting off 2014 by sleeping late for a change. i've got nothing planned for tomorrow other than some serious relaxing.