i'll deal with you tomorrow! i've simply run out of my daily allotted time for the evening. if i don't go to bed immediately, i will be in rough shape come tomorrow at the office. basically today i went to the north train station to buy myself a ticket to chongqing a day before chinese new year's eve. i hope it'll be busy, because i'm looking forward to being a part of the massive annual migration of chinese people. a billion people on the go! i'm also closer to buy a chinese smartphone, most likely it'll be the 北斗青葱N6 (RMB$999) if i can't score the 北斗青葱1391 (RMB$599, only 10,000 units/day will be available online for the next 3 days).

in the final hours of work i tried to invite XL for dinner, but once again, she said she already has dinner plans. 5 months working here, i still haven't found a reliable person to hang out with, and i may never find that person. looking outside the outside has added a new interesting element, but the fact is, i spend nearly all my waking hours at work, so it'd be easier to make a work friend.

* getting paid
* changshou north station

after the company bus dropped us off back in town, i walked to the regular bus stop to catch a bus to north station. a 109 came rolling by but i noticed its final destination wasn't the train station so i didn't get on. i ended up taking another 109 that did say "north station," but i was still nervous that it'd just drop me off prematurely in the duzhou neighborhood like what happened last time. the bus wasn't crowded, not many people ride its last few stops. it was definitely a lot easier having already take this bus before, and the ride seemed even shorter. duzhou is interesting, up until 2 weeks ago i never even knew about it but did pass by it a few times on my way to various countryside market days. we paseds by a gas station, probably the only one i know i town. i kept looking for interesting places to eat in duzhou but saw none. there were however some older looking architecture, like maybe from the 60's or 70's, that might be worth a closer inspection if i ever stop in duzhou. i was relieved when the bus pulled towards the station. i didn't realize just how far away the station is from duzhou, as i was mostly preoccupied with photography when i walked here 2 weeks ago.

once again, it was nice having visited north station before, as it wasn't as imposing compared to the first time, and i knew exactly where i should go to buy a train ticket. i was afraid maybe the ticket counter would be closed but happy to see there was a clerk still working. there were only a handful of people, nearly all of them buying their ticket from the automated machines. the only people buying from the teller were people who seemed either to be confused by the automated technology or had complicated ticketing requests that needed a live person to talk to. so basically, just me. "29th, chongqing," i told the clerk. there was an early 8:40 train, but i decided to take the less early 10:20 train instead. cost: RMB$20. compare that to a bus ticket, which costs RMB$31 and takes longer (one hour, compared to the high speed train which is only 40 minutes). why don't everyone take the high speed train to chongqing is beyond me; maybe people just don't know about it yet since it's a new service, but i find it hard to believe since the chinese arebudget conscious by nature.

since there was hardly anyone around, i got a chance to explore the automated ticket machines. i was surprised to find it was bilingual, with a helpful english version. however this is entirely useless as the machine requires the customer to scan his/her chinese id card, which an english-speaking foreign visitor wouldn't have anyway. it's sort of weird and i even asked the clerk about it, who told me, yes, you can only buy a ticket with the machine if you have a chinese id card. this really gets to the heart of a very chinese problem, which is a lot of things are done simply so they can say they've done it, but the quality is often lacking. i mean, what's the point of having an english translation option for foreigners when no foreigners can buy a ticket through the machine anyway? i also noticed some online ticketing machines along the side, where you can claim your online-purchased tickets, but those require chinese id swipes as well.

i left the station and walked downhill to the bus depot for 101 and 109 buses. as there was a few minutes before the next bus (101) was leaving, i went around taking some photos. the trip home was free of incidents, and i got off at the stop opposite the chongbai mall.

i went to the chongbai supermarket to pick up some paocai vegetables, mainly a head of cabbage and some carrots. i also got some baby bokchoi for the ramen i was prepared to have for dinner. plus, i stocked up on some more rice.

i stopped by the ICBC ATM kiosk to get some cash to pay lihui for the smartphone he'll eventually order for me. i was surprised to receive 10 crispy brand new RMB$100 dollars. this is a very chinese tradition, as relatives give children red envelopes stuffed with money during the chinese new year, so bills should be as new as possible. they looked so nice i couldn't even bare to fold them in half so i carried them unfolded in my coat pocket.

i made ramen for dinner, trying out a new kind of i've never had before, seemingly comprised of 6 essential flours. the noodles looked shiny and almost plastic, and maybe i overcooked them because they tasted soft. i also don't like that they're kind of flat noodles (i prefer the round noodles).

later i chopped up the cabbage and left them to dry overnight so i can stuff them into my paocai jar tomorrow.