i took the korean shuttle bus this morning into chongqing to show my filipino coworker romeo and his wife around the city. also on the bus was mr.park (going to church) and wangyan (going shopping). the driver was new and didn't even speak english so everyone was fortunate that wangyan was there to translate (although i could've done it as well). the driver didn't know where the church was and dropped off park a few hundred meters away from where he was supposed to be. the rest of us got off minutes later at guanyinqiao. "you're going to have a tough day," wangyan told me as she went off on her own to go shopping, leaving me to play tour guide.

romeo i didn't mind; his wife on the other hand never talked to me, never smiled, and seemed to be a perpetual bad mood. she was also slow, so i was always waiting for them to catch up. earlier i asked romeo what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to see pandas so i took them to the zoo. once i dropped them off, i got back on the subway and went to shiqiaopu to pick up my 18-200mm camera fix. i was afraid they'd do a poor job fixing it, or at least the lens would come back with additional cosmetic damage. but there wasn't a scratch on the lens, and it worked as good as before, if not better. not bad for RMB$400 (US$66). i then returned to the zoo to meet up with romeo and his wife.

romeo loves to talk. so it must kill him that most chinese that he meets outside of the office don't understand english. but whenever we'd come across another foreigner, he'd take the opportunity to chat with them. we met an aging french backpacker with a tangle of pepper-colored hair and beard at niujiaotuo station; he was going to jiefangbei, i pointed him in the right direction. later at the second subway restaurant we visited, he chatted up with a guy whom i thought was either american or israeli but turned out be to libyan; he was in chongqing visiting his fiancee.

i also realized that this was my first time on my nearly year-long trip to asia that i've gone out with somebody who spoke english. this had some interesting side effects. the chinese have a tendency to gawk, and someone like romeo - of filipino descent - stands out from the typical chinese han ethnicity. so people already noticed him. but when we start talking in english, suddenly everybody is confused. hearing english has a tendency to turn heads, and i could see people looking at us while we were talking. they might expect some westerners to be using english, but it's not often they hear a chinese person speaking fluent english.

with the warming weather comes the return of the pretty chongqing girls. seeing so many in the city actually put me in a good mood. it reminded me that there are some better choices out there, girls who are pretty and with a nice personality, girls that don't run hot and cold, normal girls.

we bumped into manfred, who was there with his sister and his 16-year-old daughter. it was already 2:00 so i took my filipino guests 12 stops to jiefangbei, because romeo said he and his wife both loved subway sandwiches. the company shuttle bus back to changshou was scheduled to leave at 3:30 from guanyinqiao but there was no way we were going to make it so we decided to take the public bus instead to buy us some more time in chongqing. we went to hongya dong and had a very late lunch at the subway restaurant there.

afterwards we wandered the area a little bit, before returning to jiefangbei and catching the subway to hongqihegou to take the bus back to changshou.

i felt this weekend was a little wasted. it's hard to gauge if romeo and his wife had a good time, especially his wife, the constant sourpuss. dragging them along, it was hard for me to take photos. on the other hand, romeo did pay for most of this trip, including zoo admission (RMB$30), lunch (RMB$34), and bus ticket back (RMB$31). i also now realize i can take the company shuttle to chongqing and save myself the RMB$31 it'd usually cost me to go there on a sunday. next sunday i will go back on my own and do the things i want to do and not have to worry about others.