with sunmeng not here, i managed to sleep until 9am. i slept above the covers, and it was still a little chilly despite turning off the AC. i didn't mind, i prefer a cool bed rather than a warm bed anyway.
since i didn't do anything yesterday, i was going to make up for it today. i didn't know where i was going, but i knew i was definitely going out. even then, i still left the hotel relatively late, around noontime.
first thing i needed to do was to get some pants hemmed. tailoring in china is amazingly cheap. to get a pair of pants hemmed in the US costs $15-20, while in china it's around $1-2. i had space in my luggage so i actually brought 4 pairs of pants with me when i arrived in china (2 jeans, 2 regular). this is the tailor shop underneath the steps to one of the underground food courts in guanyinqiao. i used them before, so i knew their work was okay. RMB8 each for 2 pants, and RMB15 for the jeans (because i wanted to keep the original hems).
i then had lunch at the guanyinqiao haochi street food court (è§‚éŸ³æ¡¥å¥½åƒè¡—). i was there around lunchtime so the place was crowded. i picked a noodle shop that had a few open tables, ordered a bowl of pig intestines knife cut noodle for RMB16. it wasn't that great, everything served in a broth of spicy red oil, so i had to eat carefully, to avoid splattering on my clothes.
i went to the chongbai supermarket to pick up a drink and some snack (a bag of beef jerky) before heading underground to the subway station.
i decided to visit the wholesale outlet place to look for wool yarns for my mother and comfortable pants for me. first the yarn: many vendors treated me as if i knew nothing about their craft, but i could hold my own, after years of experience buying yarn for my mother. although the choices came in myriads of different colors, the yarn types themselves were of limited selection. there were a lot of very thin yarn, which would take forever to knit anything with. i wasn't there to buy yet, just to report back to my mother.
before i headed off to the wholesale mens clothing area, i stopped by the post office. the stamps for international postcards are drab; i wanted to get some more colorful local postage and assemble them together to equal that of international mail. the clerk didn't understand what i was doing, said it was a waste of space putting all those stamps on a postcard when just one or two will do. and of course we had a nosey gawker standing next to me watching the whole thing. i was too engrossed in educating this postal clerk that i didn't tell the prying chinese gentleman to mind his own business.
i finally made my way to the mens clothing wholesale. i wanted to find the shop where i originally bought my comfortable china pants, but i couldn't remember where it was amongst the sea of a hundred other shops. i did come across the snaggle-tooth old lady who sold me a bunch of shirts back in my changshou days. she still remembered me, but said i put on some pounds. was i really that much skinnier back in those days?
i left empty-handed. i ended up walking down to jiefangbei again (funny it seems i always wind up here), and taking the subway from there to my next destination.
when lixiaoli told us about a street in central chongqing that had a lot of old architecture, ä¸å±±å››è·¯, i knew i had to visit. there are a bunch of ways to get there, but the closest seem to be from æ›¾å®¶å²© station, the same station for the chongqing museum and the national theater. æ›¾å®¶å²© is kind of special because leaving the station involved walking though a long underground corridor that seems to be cut into a mountain. instead of walking all the way down, an arrow pointed to a set of elevators that carried pedestrians straight to the summit, to ä¸å±±å››è·¯. i would've missed this exit completely were it not for a large group of dancing old ladies rehearsing in costume. while i stood to watch, that's when i noticed the special exit sign.
coming out of the station was like discovering a magical world not populated by modern highrises but rather by old-style architecture (many renovated, but still retaining the classic style) on a windy street underneath a canopy of old trees flanking the road. a fiery bush of magenta bougainvillea brought my attention to a large plaza park overlooking the subway station down below and the jialing river with yubei on the other side. it was a hot (but dry) day so i tried to stay in the shadows as i made my way to the overlook.
from the street i saw a sign that read, "mansion of mr.zhou enlai." i knew about this place in chongqing but didn't realize it was here. a bronze statue of zhou enlai stood in the center of a plaza. throughout china i've seen statues of mao, but this was the first one i've seen of zhou enlai. if mao was captain kirk, then zhou was spock. i personally think zhou would've been a better leader for china. behind the statue was the aforementioned mansion, which was actually the chinese command center during WWII, housing both communist and nationalist officers. zhou enlai lived here with his wife, as well as a few other top officials in the chinese community party. i also saw a sign that had a map of chongqing, showing a communist version of the freedom trail, with this spot being a key landmark.
admission into the mansion was free. a sign said no photography but i took photos anyway, just never in front of any museum employees. they must've known anyway, since security cameras were everywhere. compared to the stillwell compound, the chinese command center was cramped and stuffed with people. i don't think anyone there had any privacy. like the stillwell compound, there was a secret underground bunker (although off-limits, for maybe safety/maintenance reasons).
from the mansion i walked down ä¸å±±å››è·¯, admiring the design of the street and the old-style architecture. i stopped in front of a government-looking entrance way that was guarded by soldiers and snapped a few photos. out of nowhere a young man came by and said i couldn't take photos of that place, and then went back inside a small convenience store. so there are plainclothes security guards as well!
i kept walking until i reach a large rotary. from there i turned to walk in the direction of ç‰›è§’æ²± station. across the street was a bronze mural depicting some key communist history event with mao as a centerpiece. beside me was a mountain, with strange functional tunnels cut into its sides. one was for a teahouse, another was for a carwash. it made me claustrophobic thinking what kind of death traps those places must be. from the station i caught a train to quanyinqiao which was only 2 stops way. it was around 5pm, but early enough in the rush hour commute that it wasn't quite crowded yet.
back at the hotel i rested until sunmeng returned around 7pm. she was in a better mood than usual. after she took a quick shower, we went out for dinner. she originally wanted seafood noodles from å¥½åƒè¡—, but we ended up getting some steamed ribs, our whole dinner costing just RMB28. afterwards we went to the arcade to score some discount token tickets (RMB4 for 10 tokens) and sunmeng ended up winning another plush doll, a minion doll wearing a red scuba diving outfit. we picked up my pants then came back to the hotel.
a large cockroach was waiting for us on the wall when we got back. i shrieked, while sunmeng grabbed a shoe and smashed the roach with a sickening crunch. i'd occasionally see one of these large dead roaches outdoors but never one alive, and never one in my room. suddenly the hotel didn't seem all that clean anymore. i won't be leaving out any food outside anytime soon.