We woke up to a gorgous day, and I for one could hardly believe how clean and warm the air was! We joined "little black" (高琳's friends nickname, as his skin is so dark) and his two cousins for a stroll around the lake/park, and found some lunch. Then back to his apartment to collect baggage, and then off to his friends hostel. Though initially somewhat dubious about it- it was located off an alley off a main street, on the 6th floor, and showed no sign of being anything other than an apartment- it ended up being clean, cheap and convenient. The proprietor gave us a set of keys, we chatted for awhile (as par Chinese tradition, we called her 姐姐 or "older sister")and we were off to have dinner at a russian style restaurant.
There were interesting things on the menu!
The next day we went to the zoo in search of cherry blossoms (a sight everyone had assured us was a must see) but as you may discern by the lack of photos, they weren't actually blooming yet, seemingly contrary to most denizen's beliefs. But it was interesting to see all the animals/zoo. Not many were very well cared for, and most had cages which were way to small.
In the afternoon, we took a bus to the big bus station, and got on the 2:30 bus to 文山, 高琳's hometown. It took about 4.5 hours to get there, but she says that before they built all the tunnels, it took 6-8, so I consider myself lucky. We sat next to some talkative people, but it was sorta like that scene from Hot Fuzz, where multiple translation is needed- One of the men had an extremely heavy accent that another had to decipher, and then sometimes 高琳 had to repeat what he said in common Chinese. But it was very interesting, people always ask about wages, cost of living and money related questions, but don't seem to ask about social issues or the like.
On the bus!
At the halfway point/stop! Looks sorta like California.
We were greeted by 高琳's parents, told to take a shower(they had turned the hot water heater on for us) and then fed a delicious dinner. In the morning, I went for a run during which I could almost feel the pollution leaving my lungs. Then we went for a traditional breakfast of rice noodles and spices. My bowl is the one which is pale- not much spice for me :)
We walked around the city, then studied some Chinese and English. The next day I accompanied 高琳's mom on what I thought was a trip to play mahjong, but turned into an adventure in which we accompnied a cousin to the police station to report the theft of her bag(lots of smoking, and some heated discussion took place on the safety of the city) and then to register her new car (I think? Still not sure what happened, but they fed me a strange ice cream bar and some sunflower seeds, so that was fine by me.) That night most of the family that lives in the area came over for dinner and mahjong playing, which I observed, but did not yet dare to participate in. The next day we went out for KTV with 高琳's friends, as little black's cousin was having a birthday. I was asked to take many photos with people, and also to go to a different room (there were two rooms filled with people, KTV loudly playing, people smoking cigarettes, and lots of drinking) to introduce myself. Apparently, introducing myself would usually consist of me drinking with them, but since I don't drink, fruit juice was procured for me (watermelon!) and so I knocked my juice with lots of beers, and everyone spoke very slowly and simply in common Chinese to ask me questions. At one point I was asked if I could find an American boyfriend for one of the girls. I was repeatedly asked whether I had any of the Chinese social media accounts (still don't) and also asked what I thought of the people of 文山, to which the only appropriate answer seemed to be "very friendly/welcoming!".
This morning we went to see a tower on the East Mountain. The original one had been there for a long time, but was destroyed during WW2. This new one was built about 20 years ago.
We made it up all the stairs!!
Since Spring Festival is quickly approaching, lots of people are walking around with live chickens. Really a lot of people. The city is suddenly full of chickens. This seems to be the preferred method of carrying them, though one morning while running I saw a man walking his- he was call for it and it would come, but its memory was short, so he had to do this every few steps.
高琳 looks at the street her old house is on- it's in the older part of the city, which is being torn down to make way for more apartment buildings.
The river I run along!
And a new fruit for me! Initially unsure about what it was, it proved to be delicious (a sequence of events exceedingly common for me now- I'm rarely sure about the nature of the food I am eating, other than being veg of course)
Homemade fried rice! So good. So good.
This is the view from the top of the tower! Well, one of them, it's 360 degree view, so I had to pick and choose. As you may see, though 文山 is rather off the beaten path, it has developed very quickly, and is pretty big.
Since it's sunny here, 高琳 doesn't want her skin to get dark, so the umbrella is a must. She is very surprised that I don't like using it, and that I luxuriate in the sun. This was also when I tried sugar cane! Really cheap, but I think it is too sweet for my tastes. As 高琳 pointed out, it is what is used to make sugar.
We also went to a Chinese bookstore, where I got a book of middle school essays (高琳 says they are written very well, she says reading them makes her feel as if her writing should be better, I feel the same) and some calligraphy books. Speaking of which, I'm off! Hope this finds you all well! I'll try to stay more current in the future :)