it's the morning of my last day in zhangjiajie. ideally i could've left last night, but the ticket price was 2x more expensive, so i opted to stay an extra bonus day. however, i don't feel like doing anything at all today, except maybe just lounge around in my hotel room, relax, maybe write some blog posts. the catch is i have to checkout by 1:00. i can stay longer if i pay the hourly rate though (RMB$60/4 hours). that means i have about 8 hours where i'm essentially homeless, to wander around the city. it rained earlier this morning, something i knew about in advance because i received a severe weather warning (in chinese) on my smartphone via my weather application. the rain doesn't look like it will continue though although the streets are still wet and the sky a severe overcast.

i've sort of neglected writing on my blog this week, only managed to post a few photos, some of which are probably kind of mysterious without some context. if this truly was a vacation though, taking a break from blog writing was a part of that vacation package.

i had a good time here in zhangjiajie, but i feel when i go back to changshou it will be depressing again. good news is i have just 44 days left in my contract so this will all be over soon. that's also the bad news. i've lived in china for almost a year now, and despite the long hours in the office, i like to think i've spent my free time wisely, rarely wasting a single hour. i'm looking forward to returning to boston, but compared to my life here in china, boston is dull. i wish i could somehow combine the two, the familiarity of home, but the social and traveling component of china. maybe if this all happened 10 years ago, i'd have more options, but i'm already 40 years old, and settling down is long past due.

the one unexpected thing that happened on my trip was hanging out with so many young women. it wasn't something i was planning, and in some ways, i might've preferred simply traveling alone (more time to do the things i want, like staying in one place longer to take more photos). it started with those 4 hubei girls i spent 3 days in zhangjiajie park with, and then after they left, i met a shanghai girl in tianmenshan the next day (along with her 4 hong kong friends, 3 girls and a guy). it's mostly just coincidence, but it's definitely a boost to my self-confidence, which had been low after being "dump" by XL 2 weeks ago.

i'm spending this morning packing. i bought some hunan baijiu that have to be shipped as luggage since they can't be carried onboard because of the liquid restriction. i got a box from the post office yesterday (RMB$8, conveniently located right across the street) and some packaging tape (RMB$6). later i went to the convenience store around the corner and purchased a few more bottles of baijiu, including one made from corn (RMB$14) in a corn-shaped terracotta bottle and another one that said "zhangjiajie" on it (RMB$12). i discovered when i got back to my hotel room that the corn baijiu was leaking, so i went back and got a replacement (fingers crossed it doesn't leak as well).

housekeeping knocked on my door around noontime, asking me if i was checking out. official checkout time isn't until 1:00, so i still had about another hour. another reason why i want to prolong my hotel stay is i'm still nursing a case of upset stomach after that special chicken dinner i had with chenyu and her hong kong friends. i hope her friends are doing better than i am because they went to fenghuang afterwards, and nothing sucks worse than traveler's diarrhea. i've got immodium capsules but i usually don't like to take those unless i have no other options.