I can only imagine it at this point, but it must feel good being able to sleep late. I'll know by tomorrow morning because this is probably the first time since I started working 2 months ago that I didn't have to wake up around 6am.
I'm in Chongqing tonight, the first time I've managed to stay overnight here. I'm living in a pretty sweet apartment hotel, 21st floor right in jiefangbei, the poshest of Chongqing's commercial districts. I'm only paying rmb$168 a night but there's a catch: I can only stay here for just one night, since all the rooms are booked solid for the national holiday. I'll look for a new hotel room tomorrow but I'm not optimistic I'll find anything for this week. Either they don't have any available rooms, or they're using the obscenely high posted rates. Worst case scenario, I return to changshou, not a big deal.
since this is essentially an apartment, it comes with a kitchen (stove, fridge, sink), small dining area, hdtv, Wi-Fi internet, and a washer in the bathroom. This would be a great place to live, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to afford it. The internet was one of the first things I tried, not only does it work, but it's also very fast.
I came to changshou with fengya via a bus leaving Yanjia. Everything was fine until we got to Chongqing; that's when the contain started. The driver let us off a few blocks away from the station as a kindness, otherwise we would had to sit through probably another 30 minutes south of traffic.
We got here with another fellow employee who was also going to jiefangbei. He guessed i was fresh out of college, i shocked him with my TrueAge™. I was about to guess he was maybe in his forties because of greying hair, but he told me he was just 29. He helped me find the apartment hotel which was very well hidden. afterwards I took him to chaotianmen dock. He said he was happy hanging out there for a few hours (he was waiting for a10pm train to honan), so I left him alone.
I returned to the apartment, collecting food as I went: rambutans (1.5+kg rmb$35), pork patties (rmb$4), scallion pancakes (rmb$4), smelly tofu (5 skewers rmb$10). I came back to take a shower and eat. I got in touch with fengya who was still stuck on the bus due to traffic leaving Chongqing.
I went out again around 8pm, to ride the cable car (rmb$10 roundtrip) across the Yangtze river. The view from the other side wasn't that great. Maybe it's better from across the Jialing river. Most people just bought the single trip ticket, take some photos from the other side without leaving the station.
The final stop was jiefangbei. It was a little weird being there. Chongqing was the last stronghold of the Kuomintang during the Chinese civil war. Once Chongqing fell, the KMT fled to Taiwan in october 1949 -including my grandparents. Here in China, on the eve of China Chinese independence day, it was weird seeing people celebrate an event that's actually a sad day in my family's history.
(I post photos once I can get back to my computer -I've got some good ones)
i woke up at 8am, just 7 hours of sleep, but i wanted to enjoy the hotel apartment a bit more before checking out around noontime. i realized that there was an android version of utorrent that i could use to download shows as long as i had a good internet connection. suddenly i didn't have to wait until i got back home to see the series finale of breaking bad! i'd been avoiding online spoilers, reading entertainment news with squinted eyes. so after a shower, i watched the finale while i ate those meat patties (turns out they're vegetarian, meigancai) then finished in bed.
checking out was a hassle because my contact person was still asleep even though it was almost 12:00. plus, the elevator card is only keyed to a specific floor, so i couldn't reach the 10th floor from the 21st. some cleaning ladies helped me, and i ended up transacting with apartment hotel broker who paid me my deposit. i took her business card, i'm pretty sure i'll be back.
outside in jeifangbei on food street, i suddenly found myself face-to-face with the horrors of a sea of chinese people. my plan earlier was to travel to the southern part of chongqing city, where it was still accessible by metro but far enough away from the city center that i might be able to score a hotel room. unfortunately it probably wouldn't be cheap, as all hotels go by their posted rate this week. so i decided i'd go back to changshou instead.
i visited the bookstore to buy a china map book. chinese-published books are surprisingly cheap. with more than a billion consumers, a good book can be priced cheaply but still make a profit. i was just going to get a general china map book until i saw they had ones specific to provinces. the one i was interested in was sichuan, with contains both luzhou/yibin, places i'll be visiting with the next few days, and western sichuan, where i'll be visiting in a few weeks. they come in different sizes, after comparing them all, i decided on the pocket-sized version because it was more convenient to carry. cost of a 218 paged map book? RMB$15, less than US$2. i want to buy a whole bunch of chinese travel books and ship them back for my parents.
afterwards i went to caiyuanba bus station, to see if i could catch the crowd of travelers. i found the very long escalator and rode it down (RMB$2) to the bus/train stations. it wasn't as crazy as i thought. there were lot of people, but they were all waiting inside. outside was relatively calm, like any other day. i hung out at the station taking photos before going to guanyin bridge.
at guanyinchao i was looking for a heavier winter coat for my western sichuan trip. i went back to H&M, where they had ones for RMB$499. they're okay, about US$80. i'm hoping to score something cheaper. i was there for a while, visiting stores after stores, including some chinese name-brands, which had pretty poor craftsmanship despite the high price (RMB$2000+). i left without buying anything, but stopped by a KFC for a late lunch. i got the chicken sandwich but didn't realize it was "chuan flavor" as in "sichuan" which meant a dressing of hot sauce. it was okay, but i was hoping to avoid the spiciness. next time i'll ask for the original recipe.
the scene outside the northern bus station back to changshou was several long lines. they were all going to specific places, but people looking to get to changshou could just go inside the station without waiting. it was weird returning to changshou, knowing that in about 12 more hours i'd be coming back to chongqing. but a RMB$31 bus ticket is still cheaper than trying to find a hotel room which i'd guess would be RMB$400+ easily, provided i can even find a place. save that money for a new coat!
i did a quick load of laundry. it was still early enough in the evening that i went out for a haircut. i tried a new place, a salon i pass by daily, next to the pastry shop. haircuts are only RMB$25, which includes pre- and post-washing. the washing is my favorite part, like getting a scalp massage. just thinking about it puts me in a calm mood. they asked me if i had a stylist in mind. since this was my first time, they assigned one to me, a very attractive young woman with a great smile. from my accent she knew i wasn't local. "where are you from?" she asked. "it's complicated," i told her, then explained my confusing pedigree. when i asked her if she knew any english, she said she never attended school. she's also not from here either but rather jiangxi. they told me her name, but i forgot it. when i asked for it again, they said just ask for number 13. all the washing sinks were occupied so i left without a wash.
i then went to get dinner at the rice porridge place. RMB$15 for a chicken rice porridge, kind of expensive, but still only just US$2. afterwards when i passed by the salon i saw ms.13 outside and we waved to each other.
even though i went to bed last night around 2:00, i still woke up around 8:00. my body wanted more sleep but my well-trained digestive system was open for business and demanded attention. i then lounged around in bed the rest of the morning, sort through the 6500+ photos i took on my 4-day trip to luzhou (and nearby luxian) and yibin (both in sichuan province, which is right next to chongqing). i let my image cataloaging program finally creating thumbnails for the first batch of photos before downloading the rest on my 2nd 32GB memory card. i didn't want to tax my netbook so i surfed the web on my tablet pc.
since i still have monday off, i essentially have a normal 2-day weekend. what a luxury, compared to my normal one-day-weekend of just sunday. around 1:00 i finally got dressed and left the house. i shaved before i went out, my week old beard caught in that dirty awkward phase that's not yet stubbles but not yet full beard either. i was going to grow it out to show fengya but she'd already seen it days ago and said it wasn't as thick as she'd imagined it.
i took the 101 bus into old changshou, looking to buy some of that delicious bread i had weeks ago, and maybe get some lunch. i arrived too late and the bread seller was nowhere to be seen. i bought a pound of roasted chestnuts (RMB$15) and wandered into the mall looking for a sporting goods store that might carry winter coats.
having no luck, i returned to the street where all the restaurants are located. i knew this from before, but there are actually 2 such food streets, both very similar, except on one of those streets is where i had those delicious noodles a few weekends ago, and i wanted to go back and try their lamb noodles. i couldn't find on the first or the second food street, but when i doubled back, i saw a place that looked familiar, except the restaurant name was different. confused, hungry, i grabbed a seat and ordered the intestines dao-xiao noodle soup (RMB$10). the noodle was okay, the broth on the oily side. looking at the menu posted on the wall, i noticed it was taped over another menu. when i went to go pay i asked if this used to be a different restaurant. they confirmed my suspicions, and the owner gave me a coupon for a free bowl of noodles on my next visit. i was really hoping to find some lamb noodle soup though. with the old place gone, i don't know where to go.
i also bought a plastic washing basin (for storing water in case they shut off the water again, and also good for soaking vegetables to release potential pesticides) before getting onboard the 105 bus back to my apartment. i took a little detour to buy RMB$20 worth of duck feet.
i spent the remaining afternoon at home watching a copy of oblivion on the HDTV, snacking on my duck feet and chestnuts. i bought way too much duck feet but still managed to eat it all (about 15 maybe). not sure if i ever want to eat it again. chestnuts were really good, and i saw a bunch of places selling them, so i know there will be a good supply. they make me thirsty though.
fengya returned to changshou in the afternoon as well, back from luxian. we chatted briefly online, i told her if she wasn't busy guo was going to invite us to dinner.
when evening came, guo called me to let me know he was coming down. i went outside to rendezvous, saying hi to the pretty hairdresser taking a break from work. i waited a while but didn't see guo, so i took a little walk around the block, before he called me. he was waiting on the street corner with fengya, who not only permed her hair (which i saw when we visited her hometown luxian) but also dyed it a dark shade of brown. she was also dressed, like maybe she was going out afterwards. we ended up having dinner at the rice porridge restaurant, my 3rd time in a week. i'm actually not a big fan, their rice porridge is kind of expensive (RMB$12+) for something that normally costs RMB$3 or less.
afterwards we invited fengya to come with us to ancient changshou but she said she was too tired. guo and i went anyway, and found the place to be quite busy with national holiday vacationers still enjoying the final days of their week long break. usually the place is kind of a ghost town, but tonight the streets were filled with vendors selling everything from food to shoes to kitchen gadgets to toys, as well as actual customers. we stayed a bit but returning to new changshou, which is about a 20 minute walk. we got back by 9:00.
fengya was still up so we chatted briefly. i complimented her hair, she told me i shouldn't be so quick to treat (as in dinner, as i did tonight) since people might take advantage of my generosity.
it's now almost 3:00 and i'm still up. i spent the rest of the night still sorting through my photos, tagging the best ones. i've picked about 500 out of the 6500+, which i think is a more manageable amount. better get some sleep, i might hike up a local mountain tomorrow, and i want to try old changshou again to look for that delicious bread!
it seems my ability to sleep late has been compromised, since i woke up at 8am again after having gone to bed last night at 2:30. my cold seems to be getting better, when i blow my nose it comes out in clumps, which i know means the final stage of cold symptoms. my persistent cough on the other hand, that won't go away. it's been weeks now.
i went to old changshou around 10:00 this morning, caught the 105 bus, the bread place was finally open, i bought a large bag. i also got a bag of waffle cones, didn't realize i could eat that for a snack.
i had a late breakfast once i got back home by around 11:00. i was about to do a load of laundry (including my bedsheet) when guo called me asking if i wanted to go biking. he said he invited fengya but she said it was too hot. i saw guo outside my apartment building already with a bike. i went with him to the gymnasium plaza to rent one for myself. fengya called just then; i hoped maybe she changed her mind and decided she wanted to come out with us, but she wanted to ask me if i was around to give her some of my bread.
* climbing up puti mountain
* afternoon beer and peanuts in ancient changshou
* duck pork mushroom clear broth hot pot for dinner
* walk to ancient changshou with fengya and guo