Monday, January 26, 2009

Chun Jie Kuai Le! (Happy Spring Festival!)

Saturday I got my medical report (all clear, no plague) and Adam and I biked into town to go the PSB (public safety bureau). That went fine as well, other than Adam taking us on an unnecessary tour of northern Chengdu. Then I went to computer city, bought some DVDs and went to the shamrock to meet up with my football team. we stayed there and drank for a while, then i came home and showered. i met back up with all the football mates at the leg n whistle for an australia day party, it was great, playing games, drinking beers with all the boys. after a raucous evening i went home, ready to sleep.
sunday was new years eve so adam and i chilled for a while at his house, watching the early fireworks from the 12th floor. then we went to a party at owen and sam's house (two guys i play football with, an irishman and a dutchman. haha, i've never typed dutchman before) after dinner. it was awesome, a great 2-story penthouse with a big roof, a full bar and about 40 people, entirely foreigners but i didnt know about half of them. it was the best party ive been to in china, a great, american-style houseparty. we climbed onto the roof before midnight and started setting off the fireworks. so yeah its cool that you can buy the fireworks that cities shoot off in the states and light them yourself. so from the 7th story, we looked out across chengdu, fireworks in every direction, ash raining down a bit like pompeii, carousing with cool new friends. we stuck around until about 130 and as we were getting into the cab it started snowing. it was pretty cool, my first spring fest, great party, then driving through snow on the way home.
new years day everything was closed so sam and i basically hid inside until our stomachs got too empty, then we went to peter's tex-mex and i had some great steak tacos (like prob a 7/10 on us standards) with charlie, then we hung out at his house and played some videogames before coming home for poker. oz, dwayne, tom, andy from dave's, zach, rick, sam and i played. it was a good, big game, we played for wayyyy too long and then got mcdonalds breakfast. german and my friend matt from latin, from way back in high school, came by and chilled. today im planning more dvd-watching and an oscar post once ive finished some more of the top films of this year. year of the ox! its off to a good start, with friends visiting and more coming back soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter Holiday, Working and Sunshine

Today I got up around 10:30, a bit early for me in these lazy times, threw on a classic rap album (so I'm told - Das EFX - Dead Serious - 1992) and continued to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez' first volume of his memoirs, Living to Tell the Tale. After Dead Serious finished, I put on Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Soul Brother Number 1, another canonical hiphop album, and continued to read and chatted online with my buddy Andrew in New Zealand. After a good long chat, my friend Adam came by and he, Sam and I got some chuan cai. After lunch, Adam and I went to the Travel Safety Office for our medicals but were told to come back tomorrow between 830 and noon. So he went off to the university to pay his fees and I went home, bought some food at the market (sausage, potatoes, onions) and then Adam and I went to a Starbucks at Wu Hou Ci (a local tourist trap next to a renovated alley of tourist shops called Jin Li). We sat in the fashionable garden and drank our delicious coffees (literally exactly the same taste for the espresso - which is a great taste i've missed in my recent penurious state), reading our novels in the decadent January sunlight. It seemed like a spring day and was a delight to ride around on our bikes, soaking up vitamin D and smiling like adolescents after a dance. (I guess maybe Marquez is making me verbose, his style and energy is really quite contagious - maybe that's what i'll use my vacation for - now don't get too ahead of yourself with delusions of marquez-like grandeur Reid - that's enough of an aside). But yeah, I had forgotten how much of an influence weather has on me, that was really one of the prime reasons I loved austin so much, mainly the fact that when weather everywhere else was such shit it was lovely in austin. so yeah, its great, no clouds, which is quite rare, and a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures maybe in the teens. so surely my laundry will be dry tomorrow, which will be nice. So yeah, no work tomorrow, I have yet to know about friday so we'll see but i dont have my hopes up. Then a week of no work, probably a lot of reading and drinking coffee, going to the bars that are open and eating chinese food, maybe lighting off some firecrackers. it's been an interesting winter but i'll make it through, should be off to yunnan in a couple weeks, then when i get back andrew will be here, then just a couple weeks til the spring semester starts and we can put away winter clothes for a bit. but yeah, sunshine is underrated, especially in the Sichuan basin. more to come.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leshan and Emei Shan

So on Saturday, after a night partying with Captain Morgan (no seriously, my friend eli is captain morgan. check out his blog ) i went with my friend David from italy to leshan, about 2 hrs from chengdu. we got dropped off at the bus station, caught a cab and ate at an overpriced touristy restaurant, complete with 20rmb cups of tea we didnt ask for. that sucked. from there we caught a pedicab to dafo (the giant buddha, UNESCO world heritage site) and walked around, took some pictures and generally enjoyed the temples and the views down to the rivers. after that we got a ride in a breadtruck to emeishan, i lost my camera somewhere along the way and we spent saturday night at baoguo si at the base of emei shan. it was nice to sleep in a temple, and we were woken up by the morning prayers, which is a nice way to drift in and out of sleep, breathing the incense and passively absorbing the mantras. we got on the road around 830, hiking right up the mountain, lots of steps and well-maintained paths, few tourists. we hit 3 temples, including one in the middle of a grove of pines on top of a hill, covered in mist. it was really sweet. we stayed the night at wan nian si, eating dinner at 530 after a full day of hiking. the sun began to set and because of the cold (at like 1000-1400m or something) david and i decided it would be a good idea to get warm so we climbed into our respective beds and were immediately asleep, only to wake at 10 after a full 14 hrs of sleep. wow it was nice. we hiked down to the bus stop (about an hr of hiking) then caught a bus up to the top of the mountain and bought some cleats, hiked in the snow and ice, saw some monkeys, took a cable car up to the golden summit (jin ding) and walked around. the views over the cliffs are incredible but the clouds were a bit high, so it was ok. the giant statue of the golden buddha was awesome. it was very cool. we took the cable car back down and i got bit by a monkey when he reached into my pocket. it sucked, i got a little scared and ran down the path. then we got a bus down, as the wind was picking up and the sun was setting, the melting snow had turned to ice and it was clearly time to get off the mountain. on the way down i struck up a conversation with the dude next to me, he was an alum of xinan minzu daxue (where i study) and he offered david and i a ride back to chengdu, which was awesome considering the rough guide said the last bus left for chengdu at 5 and it was 6 already. so tired, dirty, cold and basically penniless, we made it back to chengdu. so i got a monkey bite and lost a camera. so it goes sometimes. it was great to use my chinese a lot and im confident that i can travel on my own, which is really cool. so yeah now im back, its nice to be warm and in a place where you can do things and move around after dark. i look forward to returning to emei, its pretty sweet.