Becoming accustomed to boredom.
Fri 26 Jan 2007 - Fri 2 Feb 2007 6 °C
One thing I've discovered: Just because you're in a foreign country doesn't make holidays any more interesting. At least when classes were on here, there was something to do, something to make me get out of bed for, get out and about and make me do start moving for the day. Now, there's not really much but lunch. The trouble with not having a lot of money left and an unfortunately extended stay in the country is that I haven't been able to get around and travel until the end of my stay here.
That said, the boredom won't last much longer, as I'm off to Guangzhou in ten days!
And okay, I'm not really bored. Just that most of my activities seem to center around food, which is fine because Chinese food is awesome and probably the thing I will miss most about the country, but it makes me feel a little lazy. I've done a few things, but they're not particularly interesting. I'll let you in on the highlights, because detailing the time I spent five hours watching Battlestar Galactica with Malcolm doesn't really make a good story.
AUSTRALIA DAY 2007!
It doesn't really deserve a big header like this, because it was a pretty standard evening, but I thought I'd highlight it because it was probably the most interesting thing to happen this week. Which isn't really saying a lot about the rest of my week, but that's all right.
Early on in the day, I went into the admin office here at the Chinese language program to pick up my grades (average of 80 all around) and get the low-down on my visa stuff. Mr. Wang said I could just take my stuff in and they'd fix it right up, so I got the address from them, got my pieces of paper together (of course, I hadn't bothered to find a place to photocopy it the day before, but there were plenty of places in the city). So I caught the bus with a Japanese classmate of mine who was going to get some professional photos taken of her because a friend had given her a free pass (they look expensive, usually used for wedding photos), and managed to find my way around to this mysterious place.
Once I'd gotten my photocopies done, filled out my forms, gotten a receipt and everything, I was told that it was too early to put it in! The woman behind the desk told me I could come back later, three days before I left the country (impossible, but I figured I'd explain it there), and fix it up then. So all that trip and worrying for nothing! Even though Mr. Wang said he had called the office up to let them know I was coming in. Oh well!
That evening, celebrations started late. We went to a hot pot restaurant, but we got there a little late so we were waiting around for a long while. As we were waiting, this little toddler kept walking around us with her mother, and after a while, encouragement on both sides, he decided it was all right to wave at us. After that, he wouldn't stop looking at us and waving. It was adorable, and of course I can't resist when babies wave at me, so I was there waving and making faces while everyone else in my group sort of stared at the kid and wondered what it was staring at.
The hot pot was good, as usual, and we found out that beer was included in our fee, so we all had a few beers and were a little tipsy by the time the evening came to a close. We discussed many things, amongst them Australia and the way civilizations seem to evolve and why they all evolve differently (we of course lacked Niki, the anthropologist...), and decided after dinner that playing video games would be a good way to spend the rest of the night. So we got some whiskey and mixers and went back to Sarah's room to play Katamari for what was near to six hours.
So there wasn't a barbecue, warm weather, pool activities, boat races, or fireworks, but at least there was beer?
During this time frame, I:
1) went out with a girl Mr. Wang had introduced me to, named Yvette. I took Malcolm, Sarah, and Luca out with me and we had a great lunch filled with snack-type food, had a walk around the city, and spent hours in an all-you-can-drink tea shop playing Chinese checkers, connect-five, and chess. Made our way home via the large supermarket which lacked any DVDs I was looking for.
2) looked for DVDs for my family. They put in an order the last time we spoke for me to pick up as many Oscar nominated DVDs as possible, so I went on three separate attempts to find as many as I could (I had a short list and got 18/26!), at our local guy, at the Saige Computer City (where Malcolm picked up his repaired camera), and out at Xiaozhai. It was fun to go on a scavenger hunt, and I picked up a few other ones I was looking for along the way.
3) finished Fever Pitch, which was an absolutely great book. It sort of justifies a lot of the obsessions I've had over time, and just little parts of my personality, though maybe it shouldn't, but I've really enjoyed it. It's sort of frustrating, as a young person, to read someone's autobiography like that though, because I keep wondering when I'm going to get that sort of perspective. Maybe I'm just impatient.
4) downloaded lots of music (such good music I will probably buy the CDs when I get back to Australia), played around with my Facebook, and also started watching Battlestar Galactica with Malcolm. These things are known as "time wasters".
5) got my Chinese travel agent friend to get me my ticket to Guangzhou, which was today, and it was a pretty good deal. Y420 (+Y50 fee for him) for a 26 hour train ride on hard sleepers around Chinese New Year? I think that's just about perfect, really. I have to get another ticket on return from Guangzhou (which I wasn't actually expecting to do, but the expense won't be bad), and figure out someone to get my ticket to Shanghai from Steve while I'm away, but that shouldn't be too bad. So, ten days and I'm on my way to Guangzhou and a change of pace!
PLANS FOR THE UPCOMING 10 DAYS
I'd planned a photo scavenger hunt with Malcolm, so we'll probably get going with that next week. It's mostly to beat boredom and get me out and about while I'm still in Xi'an. I've seen a lot of things already and I'm comfortable with a lot of places, but I guess this is like a last-ditch effort to push me out of my comfort zone in a city I feel quite safe in already. We've got challenged for ourselves including: crazy fashion, street food vendors, leftover Christmas decorations, and bridal photo groups. None of these things are difficult to find, of course, but we're going to make sure we don't go to the same old places to find these things. So that should be fun, and it doesn't really matter if we actually get everything on our lists, but at least we'll have gone out and done something.
It's not really my going away, though, because Niki and I will probably have a joint going-away (she is moving to Beijing, hopefully, by March) in the time between my getting back from Guangzhou and leaving for Shanghai, and while Sarah and Luca will be away during that time, they're going to come and potter around Shanghai with me for a day or two. I might do some preparation for leaving, like packing some things I won't need to use, but I'm pretty sure my time wasters will take care of the little free time I will have, and anyway I'll have nearly a week back in Xi'an for last minute things so it's not really important I get all those things done.
And I've just forgotten that I had laundry going, so it's probably done and I should pull it out before I go to dinner!