nobody sat next to me on the bus, so i didn't have to be polite as i put on my earbuds and drowned out the 25 minute commute with music. it was raining again and condensation fogged up the windows. not that there was much to see anyway since it was still dark outside, just blurry patches of colors from the traffic lights and some store signs.
when it rains here in changshou it rains for days, if not weeks. i was expecting the weather to be better since the sky cleared up unexpectedly yesterday as we left work, but that was just a short-lived event. i don't mind the rain, it's the dirty streets that bother me. i should invest in some rain boots.
i chatted with grace, asked her about some other places she's traveled to. she's been to a lot of asian destinations, including thailand (it helps that her work sends her to all these places too). i didn't tell her i've been to most of those places as well. chatting with her makes me want to buy a cheap smartphone so i can talk to her whenever i want, not only in front of the computer. i'll look into some cheap chinese knockoffs, nothing special, but fast enough that i can do some qq/wechat and upload snapshots. internet cellphone plans are much cheaper here in china than in the US. and not having a smartphone makes me a social outcast, since everyone has one.
i wasn't planning on it, but hongya (that girl in chongqing) got in touch with me again so i chatted with her too. she told me she wanted to go to western sichuan for her august vacation; i told her i went back in october, and been there before as well. the biggest hurdle is still the language, translating everything she says into english, then writing her back in english not knowing if she's understanding me 100% (and if she is, how come she's not writing in english instead of chinese?). she's just not as exciting in the same way that grace is exciting with all her travels. i sort of don't want to see her this sunday and i'm kind of hoping our plan will fall apart so i can shop in peace and come home early.
i picked up these wrigley's doublemint jasmine mints last night and they're pretty good. jasmine is actually a pretty common flavor here in china. they can just about jasminize almost everything, from cosmetics to foods to scented kleenex. thing is i've never seen these sold in the US before, not even the non-jasminated kind.
work was boring but i managed to transmit at least one claim notification. something weird happened after lunch: i caught fengya standing by the entrance. normally i give her a smile, but her response is to always look away and pretend i'm not there, but today she looked back and smiled as well. perhaps a thaw in our unspoken cold war?
i asked xianglian about what to do with the paocai after i finished eating most of it. she told me to replenish the stock with fresh cabbage and carrots, making sure to dry them first so as to not contaminate the active paocai liquid. "should i ask more water?" i asked. she told me no, and if anything, i'll probably end up taking out water since the vegetables will release their water as they ferment.
i managed to ride the medium bus again, after i saw zengfei waiting for it. xianglian came along and sat next to me. i was enjoying some of the flirtatious banter she was having with some of the engineers. "what are you smiling about?" she asked me. the medium bus is definitely the bus to ride after work because it took us just 18 minutes to get to changshou, when on the normal bus it'd take 25-30 minuts. lihui and i were having dinner together and we tried to get xianglian to come with us but she beelined it home once we got off the bus.
lihui and i went to the lamb noodle store, my second night in a row. i ordered the wan wan lamb (RMB$20), which is basically a bowl of stewed lamb, a bowl of rice, and a bowl of daikon radish soup (the soup was cold). lihui had the red roasted beef with rice (RMB$15). the wan wan lamb is not a very good deal, the rice noodle makes a better meal.
originally lihui was going to come with me to go play badminton, but he had to go home and buy a cellphone online before the 8:00 deadline. i went home to change. i didn't have any long sports pants just shorts, so i was tempted to go in shorts, except it'd kind of cold outside. i ended up just going in regular pants but with sneakers. when i got to the gymnasium though, the place was empty, just a handful of people, nobody from work. where was everyone? i told 2 people i was coming, at the very least they'd show up, but there was nothing but crickets. i waited 20 minutes before leaving. so much for depending on coworkers.
i stopped by the big taipei cafe for some bubble milk tea. it cost RMB$7, which is a little pricey, but i wanted to try it. "this is our specialty," the lady told me, "come back often." i didn't tell her i was from taiwan. she also thought i was brave getting the cold tea instead of the hot tea. i didn't tell her i almost wore shorts. only when i got home did i see that there actually wasn't any tapioca balls, but rather imitation jelly squares. and not even a lot, just a few sprinkles. i consider this a hate crime against delicious foods.
i returned home early enough that there was still time for me to get in my scheduled friday run at the gym (which closes at 9:00, i got there around 8:00). that late, there was nobody there, a few women using the treadmills, some more ladies getting out of a dance class. i started at 12km/h, but dropped it down to 11 km/h after the first 1000m. i didn't think i could reach 4000m and was starting to feel some chest cramps and almost decided to quit but bore down until i finished. i didn't bring a towel, deciding to just wipe my sweat with my t-shirt.
after i got back i chatted simultaneously with my mother (in belmont), grace (in shanghai, over at a relative's house watching television), and alex (in tokyo).