i woke up this morning (courtesy of sunmeng's texts but more because of the incessant jackhammering that started on the highrise construction opposite the hotel) and discovered that tom brady's suspension had been reinstated in the appeals court. at this point i'm just so tired of deflategate i don't even care anymore. but for sure patriots fans will not be happy about the decision and will be livid in regards to the commissioner.
as if things could be any worse, i discovered this morning that my weblog seems to be now banned in china. i knew ftp access was already closed (without VPN), but now this? in the past i think they had an army of people scouring the web, bookmarking items as sensitive to the great chinese firewall. but nowadays i think they've gotten more sophisticated, using automated AI's that search websites for sensitive content and banning them without human intervention. the weird thing is my other empty website has also been banned. maybe it's a webhost thing and not a china great wall thing. i was able to bring up my weblog using safari (normally i use chrome), so maybe i'm overreacting.
today and tomorrow looks to be dry days so this morning would be a great time to do some laundry. this will be my third time washing my clothes, i'm starting to get the hang of it. it only costs RMB2 for 20 minutes so way cheaper than any laundromat. the worst part is the drying though, because the fire escape is dirty as hell, puddles of rusty water, accumulated dust mud, and trash. i tie up my line which has only 8 hooks, good enough for underwear and t-shirts, while the socks i dry back in the room.
after my customary breakfast of rice porridge and 2 meat buns, i visited wugongli (五公里）- which is a strange name for a station since it simply means "5 km" (there are other stations similarly name, like they just ran out of imagination) - to visit another flower market at huilongwan (回龙湾). there wasn't much at wugongli - mostly residential on one side of the monorail, and an industrial college and a supermarket on the other side, with a long commercial street of restaurants. maybe not a bad place to live, but not much else. guided by my gps, i went in search of this flower market. i found a plaza area where i went to a small convenience store to buy a package of beef jerky just so i could ask the clerk for directions. unfortunately i picked the wrong establishment because the two guys behind the counter weren't local either, and they'd just opened this shop more than a week ago, and knew little about the area.
eventually i asked a security guard who was very helpful but couldn't explain how exactly to get to the flower market except that it was behind the huilongwan residential complex. gated communities is the way most chinese people who live in the city and suburbs live. the typical layout is a sprawl of highrise apartments with a common manicured garden down below, often times with amenities like playgrounds or outdoor pools. chinese urban planners don't seem to realize that common areas might sound good on paper, but in practice that often fall short of the desired outcome. playgrounds and pools fall into disrepair, artificial ponds fill up with algae and dry up, and it's an understatement to say that the chinese have a propensity to litter (and spit and let their children and dogs go to the bathroom outside, amongst a long list of vile things). fortunately china has a large workforce willing to maintain these apartment gardens. but i wonder if these common areas can't be better served by converted to community gardens (the fact that people are living in highrise apartments mean they're raising above their agricultural roots, so maybe that's not a good idea either).
anyway, just trying to get behind the huilongwan residential complex took a long time just because of how big it was. it has pretty substantial security, with overhead electrified wire fences and a military-looking security guard saluting people as they drove into the complex (he eyeballed me with a serious look as a i walked by). finally i did find the flower market, which looked rather plain on the outside but inside was a collection of deep outdoor garden shops. of the few flower vendors outside, i asked them about rose prices, which were just RMB2-3 a stem. they all do shipping, but not as far as yanjia, where sunmeng works. one vendor told me of "preserved flowers" which can last years, and showed me a box of dried roses, which wasn't what i had in mind. once inside the flower market, things picked up, as i found my element surrounded by pretty plants. photography seemed commonplace, no one complained, and i saw a few other visitors taking snapshots with phones.
i spent nearly an hour there, from 1pm to 2pm, getting lost in the plants. selection-wise, there didn't seem to be as much as wanghai flower market (望海花市), but what it lacks in variety it makes up for in the sizes of each shops, which comprised of these long stores filled with greenery and flowers, some descending into shallow valleys, while others rising onto short hills. i didn't see any orchids though, which was surprising, since they seemed to be everywhere at wanghai. there were a lot of bonsais and manicured potted planted (medium bonsais).
after leaving huilongwan, i went to my second destination (typically on a normal chongqing day, i pick two things to do), the general stilwell museum (史迪威博物馆) at fotuguan (佛图关) station (green metro line 2), along the neck of yuzhong peninsula, overlooking the jialing river and yubei beyond.
i saw the museum while the monorail was pulling into the station (at least the large unmistakable statue bust of stilwell), so i had an idea of where it was, but it was still hard to find. the secret is it involves walking down the wrong direction of a narrow hillside highway, with no sidewalk to prevent you from getting hit by incoming traffic. it wasn't a very long stretch of road, so i headed down, keeping my eyes opened to cars and trucks coming out of the bend. i saw the flying tiger museum first before i saw the stilwell museum, which was on the opposite side of the road. the stilwell museum is very nondescript, and the compound itself looks more like a fancy teahouse garden than a museum. the museum itself is just stilwell's former residence while he was the head of the CBI theater during WWII. a minivan was parked immediately outside the museum, making the narrow road even more so as incoming cars squeeze between that and myself to get by. inside was a chinese tour guide talking with 2 westerners, which i guess hired the driver. there was nobody at the ticket booth so i just walked in, before the driver told me there was admission. the museum attendant hurried back into his booth to take my money (RMB15), give me a ticket, and have me sign a guest book.
the place has a pretty good via of the jialing river, the jialing river bridge (which is the bridge which blue metro line 3 crosses over, the one that i take normally when i go to yuzhong or any destination south), and yubei (which includes some guanyinqiao highrises). the weather today was periods of intermittent sprinkles, and i pulled out my umbrella on few occasions. i was there at 3pm and the museum closes at 5pm. i didn't think it'd take too long to see, so i could also then go across the street and check out the flying tigers museum. but before i could do any museuming, i had to go use the bathroom first. so few people visit that the bathroom lights were closed. it took me a while to find them, and i was afraid of what i'd see, but the facilities was surprisingly clean, and featured sitting toilets (hooray! western style) instead of squat toilets (boo! chinese style). i turned off the lights after i finished (not because i cared about the museum's utility bill, but because i'm a conscientious energy user in general).
a woman came out of an office when i entered the museum, maybe surprised that there were visitors. on a table was some souvenirs - books, t-shirts, and patches - and a donation box. i couldn't resist getting a US-KMT patch for RMB30 (a bit pricy, but i figured it was worth it). i only had RMB100 but fortunately the lady had change. the first floor was the main residence, a meeting hall, a banquet hall, reception areas, stilwell's office, stilwell's bedroom. stilwell's chief of staff major general thomas hearn also had a bedroom in the residence, but unlike stilwell's living area, hearn's hasn't been well-maintained, with buckling floors and peeling walls. downstairs was a photo gallery documenting the CBI theater. there were two rooms dedicated to mao zedong, whom stilwell never met, but included in the museum to make it seem like mao was integral to the CBI activities when it fact he was isolated in the communist base in the mountains of the yan'an. there was a pervasive damp basement smell with ceiling's low enough i could touch with my fingertips without getting on my toes. after seeing the photos, i went back upstairs, where i bumped into a large tour group of americans. they had a chinese tour guide who was explaining to them how mao zedong fit in with stilwell.
outside the museum i spoke with some of the americans (whom i thought at first were british) about where they were from and their itinerary. some were from washington dc, others from los angeles. they were on a whirlwind 2 week tour of china, starting in shanghai, where they then took a three gorges river tour to chongqing, where they just arrived earlier today. tomorrow they leave via plane to guizhou, then to xi'an, and finally to beijing. the woman i spoke to, this was her first time in china, and she loved the adventure. she wanted to see factories and working conditions, which i thought was a curious thing to want to see, but she knew that wasn't in the card, and i knew no way would they allow a nosy westerner anywhere near chinese factories. later while taking photos of the river, an old chinese woman with a big gap-tooth smile came up to me and asked if she could ask me a question. "do you believe in the teachings of jesus christ the savior?" she asked me in chinese. i told her no, and tried to get rid of her by telling i was a foreigner, which only made her more persistant. "oh america! that's a wonderful place! you can believe in whatever you want. a lot of christians there," she told me. she hailed from shanghai, but originally came from chongqing, where her family were involved with the kuomintang.