Monday, October 10, 2005

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Hunan trip highlights:

  1. Thursday

    • played UNO and 五十K with our train seatmates
    • FULL train (people in the aisles for a 17 hour trip), cellphone net in the bathroom
    • flat Zhejiang ⇒ hilly Jiangxi and Hunan
  2. Friday

    • picture taken in front of Changsha train station "hot pepper"
    • listened to the Beeges over the speaker system while Jodi got her haired washed at the Pretty Baby salon.
    • at Martyr's Park, rode the pirate boat, played in snowland, napped on the lake's pedal boats, and saw tons of schoolkids
    • played koosh-ball catch in the parking lot
    • dinner @ noisy hall with XF and hubby
    • pedestrian shopping street and movie (Jacky Chan's "神话/The Myth"; one thumb up)
  3. Saturday

    • sleep in
    • lunch and 刨冰 shaved ice with XF
    • roller skating! to patriotic songs and with returned soldiers home for the National Holiday
    • shadow theater while eating lunch at the 平和堂 food court
    • 1.5 hours in a dining car because we couldn't get seats on the train to Yueyang
    • late night dinner at home with the parents
  4. Sunday

    • shopping, trying on clothes on the pedestrian shopping street (does every town in China have one? as the commenter on WJS's weblog said like a lot of other cities in China that have lost their souls...)
    • nice conversation with local English teacher at yummy lunch place
    • smooching in front of Yueyang Tower
    • waiting for a taxi at South Lake
    • home early for dinner and looking at picture albums
  5. Monday

    • sleep-way-in, breakfast and lunch almost together; hooray for living with a mom
    • bough a nice leather wallet at 食草堂, "Herbal Heaven"
    • shoes, pants, and a shirt for Jodi, and dinner at KFC
    • walk home through Jodi's old middle & high school, talk with old English teacher
    • stinky tofu for midnight snack
  6. Tuesday

    • wake up late
    • 3 hour minibus to 宁乡 (Ningxiang), uncomfortable!
    • pass through Lei Feng city, I kid you not
    • 小英's house, played on the self-shuffling electric majiang table
    • Dancehall style karaoke with fake roses for delivering to singers (I do 零点乐队's 爱不爱我, and 水晶 as a duet with Jodi)
    • True Color Bar for dancing:
      • play dice, drink and smoke with the bartenders
      • a pole dancer, weird
      • bartenders give dance lessons
    • sit outdoors and chow on shellfish and frogs (my first) at midnight; ahh, the slow life
  7. Wednesday

    • 煲仔饭 rice pots at a restaurant where the 超级女生 Super Voice Girls ate, wow!
    • minibus to Changsha, and then luxury bus to Yueyang, much better this time
    • lots of free time to read Stella Dong's Shanghai
    • walk to VCD(!) rental place, back home to watch War of the Worlds
  8. Thursday

    • LAZY DAY!
    • watch Bewitched movie
    • pack, argue, walk, make-up
    • watch the sunset from a charming little bridge
    • self-BBQ dinner in a little tent-hut
    • supposed to sleep by 11, but stay up to watch Titanic, heh2
  9. Friday

    • breakfast with 姑妈 aunt
    • 2 window seats on the morning train to Changsha
    • video games at the 平和堂 mall arcade
    • simple but excellent lunch with HF
    • fight
    • buy dinner at KFC, to eat on the train
    • make-up, tell stories and jokes
    • fall asleep watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the portable DVD player
  10. Saturday

    • play more UNO, and then arrive in Shanghai!
    • nap at Jodi's
    • 小肥羊 quality hotpot with friends, and then Dairy Queen dessert

I also have several general memories. First off, I ate hot food continuously. As a result, I've built up a small resistance to eating really spicy food; it's almost exactly like training yourself to endure pain: you just gotta let it flow through you, and not crash up against your pain receptors.

Second, this was the first time the adult me has actually experienced real, honest-to-goodness multi-generational households, where the main wage earner was in the second generation of the household's members. First, Jodi's classmate outside Changsha who lived with her husband (with the manpurse and car) and her husband's parents. And then Jodi's classmate in Ningxiang who came back to visit home and lived with her mom, grandmother, and her sister's husband (again, manpurse and car) and sister. No wonder people prefer to live in out-of-the-way places with big, multiple-bedroom houses.

Overall, I'm happy with the way this trip went. For one, it helped me a little more to get over my nervousness about "Bible belt" China and how it would compare to living in fast-lane Shanghai; not that there's much of a chance of that happening: I think Jodi and I are decided to set up shop here for the forseeable future. Also, there were no major faux paus committed in front of her parents or neighbors, and I think they were a little more comfortable interacting with me on their home territory, naturally. So we got along fine, and good impressions were made all around. Finally, even though I'd been out of work-mode for a couple weeks by then, this was a very good chance to just relax and do some leisure activities like sight-seeing, eating home-cooked meals, and polishing off a couple of the volumes I picked up at the Shanghai Book Swap. So, like I said, overall I was very happy with the way this trip went.

(Photos may not come for a while, as I forgot to bring the cord to my camera back from Jodi's apartment.)

Photo are online.

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