i left a bit before 10am to get some breakfast. outside it was cold (16°C), windy, and wet, a bad combination. not too bad for someone from new england, but still, even i had to admit it was a bit raw. fortunately it was a very fine drizzle so i didn't have to use my umbrella (it was probably useless anyway against the mist). i returned to the meat bun place for the 3rd morning in a row, 5 buns and a soy milk for just RMB4.5. i came back to the apartment to eat then take a shower and finally pack.
even without sunmeng's parents' gift of tea and silk, i was going to have a hard time packing everything. the problem was the 10 packets of chinese sauerkraut fish sauce (酸菜鱼). in hindsight, maybe i should've just purchased them in chongqing, instead of buying them here in changshou and bringing them back. i could've taken the tea box if i carried it by hand, but that would've stretched my carrying capacity to 100% and back in chongqing i would've had to throw away the box anyway just to make room in my suitcase.
everything packed, i looked out the window one last time. it made me sad, because i don't know if i'll ever return to this place again. i was fortunate enough to have a chance to come back and see everything once more, but with the speed of change in china, and with my own life course back in boston, this may be the last time i'm here at 宝润国际, a place i used to call home. i went down to the 11th floor to find the cleaning lady. she was just about to make lunch, but returned my RMB100 and went up with me to inspect the room before i left.
catching the bus to the bus station (骑鞍车站) was just a simple matter of taking the elevator to the ground floor and crossing the street to the bus stop. nearly all buses go by the station, and i hopped on the first one that came along (105), swiping the bus card i charged up (RMB20) yesterday afternoon. i found a seat but sat awkwardly with all my bags, until i finally decided to stand since we were almost at the bus station which was only a few stops away.
like a seasoned pro, i passed my bags through the screening machine then bought a bus ticket to chongqing (RMB31). i caught myself mesmerized by the destination chart, checking off all the little towns nearby i'd visited in the past, imagining myself going there again, but just not having enough time.
i was the last person to climb onboard the bus, and at first i didn't think there were anymore empty seats left. i had an aisle seat next to a man who didn't seem happy i and my bulk of luggage was sitting next to him. "you can put your bag on the floor," he told me, but i told him i couldn't because i had a laptop computer, not my real reason, which is chinese bus floors are filthy. i had my backpack on my lap, and my oversized messenger bag on top of that, essentially blocking my face, then my camera bag wedged between my body and everything else. it wasn't the most comfortable of positions, but i only had to endure it for an hour before we arrive in chongqing. we left the station at 11:30am.
i'd forgotten all the little details about riding a long distance bus in china. a security person comes onboard and makes sure everyone has their seatbelts on, but this is purely for show as i never put on my seatbelt. all the while a video is playing gruesome footage of real people getting thrown inside of a bus during accidents, supposedly warning you the dangers of going seatbeltless, but i read it more as government safety insensitivity in using graphic scare tactics to make people comply to their regulations. there was something new this time around, which i took to be a movie at first, but was actually a short film made by the safety department warning people against riding "black cars" which are unregulated vehicles. it started with a woman who accepts a ride from a man who then proceeds to drive her to the middle of nowhere then demand money. when she doesn't pay, he throws her out of the car and leaves. when she goes to the police station to report the incident, the police show her (and the viewer) the dangers of riding black cars, which can ultimately end in murder.
due to the slight drizzle we arrived in chongqing a bit late, 12:45pm. almost from muscle memory, i made my way to the subway station and took the train one stop south to guanyinqiao. back at the hotel, i asked them for my packages. then the older of the workers there started asking me on which days i left for chengdu and sanya. at first i was little angry because i thought she meant i'd be charged extra for those days when i wasn't here, but she just needed the exact days to file a report. she said next time i should tell them before i go live somewhere else, but i told her i did that when i went to chengdu, and the clerk i wouldn't have a problem. seems like nobody really knows what's going on.
i thought i only had 4 packages but i had a lot more than i realized. i brought them all upstairs and began to open them. all were from my jd.com order, which makes sense, because they're a pretty reputable online store. unfortunately none of my fortune kitties had arrived yet, but i ordered them from taobao, which normally takes longer because they're from individual sellers. later in the day i got another call from a courier with a delivery of my carbon dioxide pipe for the aquarium.
i went out briefly to get some snacks: dongbei bread, custards, and 20RMB worth of large yangmei (17RMB/斤). as it was intermittently raining outside and cold as well, i stayed in the hotel the rest of the day. at some point housecleaning came into the room despite me telling them i'd be gone to change the sheets on the bed. i knew they were here because i saw one of the plush toys on the desk (it must've fallen off the window). also when i left i had all my clothes embarrassingly hang-drying in the room. everything was dried of course, and no mildewy smell, which was one of my fears when it came to drying in the room.
i made plans to meet wangyan one last time at guanyinqiao for dinner later in the evening. she assumed sunmeng would be coming as well until i told her she wouldn't return to chongqing until tomorrow night (friday). it's for the best, because i always sense tension from sunmeng the 2 times we hung out with wangyan at her apartment. first time she was busy playing a noisy shooting game on her phone while wangyan and i chatted; the second time she watched videos on my phone in the living room while wangyan and i cooked in the kitchen.