i could've gone to chongqing early - to get my camera lens fixed - but i was in no hurry. i wanted to enjoy a nice sunday morning. how did i do that? by spending almost 2 hours cleaning the house! first by cleaning the bathroom. i followed that with mopping the floors of the apartment. finally i went through the kitchen, wiping off the mold that started to grow ever since i stopped using the AC heater more than 2 weeks ago.
afterwards i finally made some breakfast. i was going to make one of my egg yak sandwiches, but the last 2 slices of bread i had in the house had grown moldy (not surprising, since the rest of the house was already moldy). i improvised, and fried 2 eggs, ate it with some tea and a banana.
i finally left the house around 11:00, making my way to the bus station in old changshou to take the bus into chongqing. my original plan was to go buy a shirt first before heading to shiqiaopu, the electronics epicenter of chongqing, to get my camera lens repaired. but once i arrived in the city, i decided to head straight to shiqiaopu.
lihui knew a friend who knew a friend who did camera repair, and gave me his number to call. fearing it might be some back alley repair shop, i opted for someplace more mainstream, and i arrived with 2 addresses. shiqiaopu doesn't have a plaza like in many other commercial centers; it's essentially anchored by a multi-floored mall that's all electronics and computers and everything digital. i couldn't find the address of the camera repair shop i found online, but decided to go in and ask somebody at one of the canon camera shops to see if they knew any nearby repair shops.
so i went to the 2nd floor, found a canon store, and asked if they could recommend a repair store. the guy pointed me to the back of the store, where a young man behind a counter was examining a hand-held digital camera. behind him was a glass case with some brown boxes that might've been camera parts. i looked for some "canon authorized repair" plague but didn't see any, although it looked like the place only fixed canon and samsung equipment.
i talked to the repairman, who gave me a ballpark figure after examining my lens. he said for parts alone it'd be RMB$200, maybe RMB$300 if there was a lot of damage inside. i said i'd think about it, maybe look for a different store. he murmured something to the effect of, "we're an authorized repair shop, you can't find any place better." i thought about it for a few seconds but then decided i'd get it fixed here. who knows if i'd be able to find that place i was looking for originally. and this was a repair shop inside a photo equipment mall; if they weren't legit, they wouldn't be here. he filled out the invoice and wrote down RMB$400 as a total, about US$65. repair work of any type in china is amazingly cheap. he also said there was a 3 month warranty. if i was willing to pay extra they could rush the repair work, but i still wouldn't get it until tomorrow (monday). i said i'd come by next sunday, he said that should be enough time.
wandering through the camera store, i had a long chat with another young man, after i asked him some questions about camera straps (he recommended i'd go look for them online because they're the same but cheaper). he was a chubby fellow, with sleepy eyes behind glasses and a t-shirt that said "montauk". he was looking at my camera equipment and made some comment about my 10-22mm canon wide angle. he said that was a great lens, but i was doing it a disservice by pairing it with a circular polarizer. we were talking and i ended up showing him the rest of my lenses: 28mm f/1.8 and the 60mm EF-S f/2.8 macro. he said the 28mm was another great lens, but the 60mm was crap in his opinion. "if you want to shoot macro, get the 100mm f/2.8," he told me. he showed me on his cellphone a bird photo he shot with a 100mm lens (bird swooping in to feed on a caterpillar on a leaf), a great photo, one that he's proud enough to just carry it around. it looked a little stage though, and he mentioned something about sitting a blind with a remote switch to get the shot.
i thought about going to guanyinqiao, but without my 18-200mm, if i saw anything interesting, i wouldn't be able to take a good photo of it, so i decided not to go. maybe on a day that's warmer too. so i took the subway back to hongqihegou and grabbed a bus back to changshou.
by then it was around 3:30, but because of some unexpected traffic, we didn't get back until 5:00. i was tired and slept on the bus. getting off, i wanted to go to the guzhen, and i asked a motorcycle-for-hire if he'd take me for RMB$5. "RMB$6," he told me, even though from where we were i couldn't almost see ancient changshou. i decided to walk it, out of principle, a distance of more than 20 minutes uphill.
from the highway i could see there was some sort of flea market happening at guzhen. inside a large tent was all manners of things on sale. i ended up buying RMB$15 worth of gummy candy and jelly beans. i then made my way inside ancient changshou, and went to the food stall street and got myself a clay-baked chicken for RMB$68. leaving guzhen, i spotted some large moving shapes in an abandoned fenced-off grassy construction area. i pulled out my ZS20 (the only thing i had that could get me a long enough zoom) and looked through LCD: it was a male pheasant with 2 female pheasants. i took some videos and photos, the male pheasant looking very wary, occasionally craning his head to look at me. it seems like the only kind of wildlife that can survive in china are those that can fly. nobody else saw the pheasants, otherwise they would've probably scaled the fence to try and capture them for dinner.
back at home i cracked open the clay pellet. i was afraid i'd need a hammer, but a slight drop onto my kitchen floor (inside the bag of course) was all that was required to crack the clay shell. inside was a bundle wrapped in brown paper. inside the paper, another bundle wrapped in leaves. finally, inside the leaves, was a whole chicken. i saw the claws (with the freakishly long nails) and worried i might find more. sure enough, turning the chicken over, i saw the head. the meat on the chicken was very tender and juicy, still slightly warm, evenly cooked, very salty, with a slight smoked flavor. overall delicious.