in this very first day of 2014, i managed to sleep late. i didn't wake up until 10:00, resisting the urge to go use the bathroom. thankfully my neighbor also wasn't doing any renovation work (also said neighbors were hammering away late into the evening, perhaps it's a chinese new year's eve tradition). even then, i stayed in bed, watching a movie until well past noon, when i figured it was time to get some lunch.
i went across the street to the guizhou lamb rice noodle restaurant, my default food place. i ordered the usual (RMB$12), but this time with lamb innards (tripes, intestines) instead of lamb meat. they also had a few new news on the menu. when i asked the manager about it, she explained it to me in a combination of unfamiliar sounds and chongqing dialect, so i wasn't sure what she was talking about. in any case, i'll come back and try their specialties one of these days.
afterwards i went to the large china mobile office around the corner and used their automated kiosk to add RMB$100 to my phone, which only had RMB$7 when i checked. i wasn't sure if i did it correctly, and there was a few other options i didn't know what they meant, but a second later after i was done, i received a text saying i'd just paid RMB$100, so i take that to be a good sign.
next it was the outdoor market. january 1st is not any special day on the chinese calendar, so the outdoor market was still open, business as usual. but by the early afternoon most of the produce vendors had already sold their vegetables and were long gone. but i wasn't buying of that; instead, i was there to stock up on some pickled sweet and sour garlic cloves, as well as pickled ginger. "i haven't seen you in a while," the manager lady told me. we ended up chatting for almost half an hour. i told her i was making paocai at home but was unsuccessful. she gave me some tip and offered to give me some of her own starter liquid next time. she said i added too much baijiu alcohol which makes the cabbage tastes bitter. with her large jars, she only needs half a cup (with my small sized jar, xianglian ended up pouring in the entire bottle). she let me try some of her fermented cabbage: it tasted sour, but not as sour as i'd like. she also asked me if i knew chongqing girls were renowned for their beauty. she said it wasn't as much as genetics (since chongqing men are quite ugly) as it was the environment, something to do with the foggy weather (natural moisturizer) combined with a diet of spicy food. girls naturally become more beautiful under these ideal beautifying conditions!
to the chongbai supermarket i went (also opened as well), looking for a glass tumbler for my teas. insulated see-through glass tumblers are very popular here since with some chinese teas, the shape of the tea leaves as they unfurl is a particular quality. i just wanted something so i can see the flowers in the pure jasmine tea i got from chengdu (jinli). they're double insulated so there's a layer of air as well, and some even come with metal strainers for putting the tea. they range in price anywhere from RMB$25 to RMB$160. i just wanted to get something cheap, but of a decent size, and no brand labels if possible. branding is everywhere so it's impossible to avoid. i did see a really nice one for around RMB$28, but it was just 280ml, around 9 oz. with my regular contigo tumbler, that thing is about 15 oz. i decided to look elsewhere.
elsewhere was the smaller supermarket next door. they had a smaller selection, and nothing that caught my attention. what they did have were bing tang "rock sugar" oranges. at RMB$3 a lb., i bought about 8 of them, all individually packaged in specialty wrappers. returning home, i bought some roasted chestnuts (RMB$10 worth) and some duck feet (RMB$20 worth). what i forgot to get was some bubble ice tea, i'll need to find a place. that's my holy trinity of chinese snacks.
after dropping off my things, i went to the third supermarket in town, yonghui supermarket. they had a good selection, and i almost bought a glass tumbler, except it was RMB$35 (about US$1 more expensive) and i didn't like the cap. i returned home empty-handed, figuring i'd look online (cheaper, but i'll need some help deciphering the chinese and order transaction).
i stayed in the apartment for good, watching the dvd screener of the hobbit: desolation of smaug i downloaded last night. around 9:00 i made dinner, some rice porridge (bought less than a kilo of rice for RMB$4 from the chongbai supermarket). i've never made rice porridge before, so there was a bit of first time experimentation. for half a cup of rice, i poured in 4 cups of boiling water i made in the electric kettle. i had on the lid at first, before it started to bubble over, so i cooked it open-lid. at one point it bubbled up again but settled down after i gave it some occasional stirring. half of cup produced 2 bowls of rice porridge. i ate it with the pickled garlic and ginger i bought earlier. i could eat like this for weeks, except they don't seem to sell sweet pickled pickles in any of the supermarkets, nor braised eels, nor gluten - standard rice porridge side dishes back at home.
i spoke with nobody from the office today, unless you count sunmeng, back in town after cutting short her vacation. she and her boyfriend had a fight again while they were vacationing in korea and he broke up with her. instead of finishing their vacation to taiwan then hong kong, she simply returned home. it's sort of an ugly situation, one that i could've predicted. had i known she was back in town last night, maybe i would've called her to see if she wanted to hang out.
i tried the bing tang oranges, they're really good. i first had them at shirley's place, then in chongqing i bought some on my own. they're not really designed for peeling, more for slicing. super sweet, with no hint of sourness at all. these are my new favorite fruit, i plan on buying some whenever i see them.
i'm kind of nervous to be going back to work tomorrow, like back-to-school jitters. i feel like i've been away a long time, but it's just a little bit over a week. a lot can change in a week. i'm excited to see some people though, had enough of hanging out by myself.
Al Jarreau - "Moonlighting (Theme)"