Getting here was an adventure in and of itself, as I had two very overweight checked bags, a rolling carry-on, and a back-breaking backpack that had my shoulders in knots before I even reached Chicago. But I haven't been working out all summer for nothing! Somehow, I managed to survive three flights, four car rides, and two long trips on the subway with my unwieldy bags, and all five of us made it to Libo in one (aching) piece.
I spent two nights in Hong Kong, though my jetlag was so bad that I only managed to check off one item on the "Must See" list. The first morning I was there, I woke up very early and took the tram to the top of Victoria Peak. At 7:30 am, a would-be chaotic mess of tourists was a peaceful, misty mountaintop, empty but for a few locals walking their dogs. I explored the area, blissfully free of shouty peddlers or the thick, wet heat of midday.
Fun fact about my life in China: My office is on the third floor of our office building. My bedroom (as of yesterday) is on the fifth floor. And the dining room, where I take nearly all of my meals with my colleagues, is on the seventh floor. I literally live at the office. (There is no elevator, by the way. By December, my newly defined quads will thank me.)
On weekends, the office cook doesn't always serve meals, and attendance if she does isn't mandatory. So my dear friend Big Mountain, whom you may have read about in earlier posts, has invited me to eat with his family instead. Our arrangement is this: I can go to his house every weekend for dinner, as long as I help his five-year-old daughter learn English.
This is an excellent trade for me. Not only do I get to hang out with Big Mountain's adorable daughter, Qiuyu (chee-OH-yew, meaning "Autumn Rain"):
(Clockwise from upper left: homemade sausages, cucumbers in hot peppers and vinegar, boiled lettuce (better than it sounds), Chinese-style steamed rolls, extra hot pepper sauce, eggplant, bamboo chute stir-fry, edamame, green beans with pork and tomatoes, taro root with pork belly and tomatoes, fish in hot pepper sauce.)
On Saturday we didn't have to go to work, so Alexy and I set out to explore our new home. Before we left, I presented him with a Bass Pro Shops t-shirt, which he promptly put on with excitement:
While I was writing this, the office secretary and jack of all trades came in to announce that my light has been fixed and the shower now works. Huzzah!
However, there's something to be said for eating with the rest of the staff, who are all much closer in age to me. On Saturday, Alexy and I ate lunch with them (since upper management had the day off, and I had just moved my things into my room at the office building). The food is more or less the same, just fewer dishes which are served in tin bowls instead of china ones. Sitting around talking with people my own age, I got a glimpse of my future here, and it does include friends after all. One of my colleagues offered to teach me to play Mah Jong, and after I taught Alexy how to play Gin Rummy yesterday, he's decided he will teach me the famous Chinese card game, "Beat the Landlord." It requires at least three players, though, so we'll have to recruit one of my future friends for the task.
And it's only Day 1.