Sunday, September 7, 2014
All a bit greasy but quite delicious. The owner gave me a discount card, eat 3 more times, and I get a free dish on my 4th visit.
As if I'd ever be able to find this place again, without a guide!
It's 86 degrees today, at 9am on Mid-Autumn Festival Monday. I'm not teaching today, but downtown is busy and the banks appear to be open, so I will do some more foreign exchange if I can find a Bank of China.
I am very uncomfortable going out of my apartment each day, as I'm just not accustomed to people staring at me or chattering at me in rapid fire Chinese. My all purpose phrase is "wo shi Yingwen laoshi", which roughly means "I'm an English teacher." Unfortunately saying this to an older guy in the Botanical Gardens kitty corner from my apartment (a place I plan to frequent, as there are fewer people to stare at me), backfired yesterday. This persistent clown insisted I give him my Chinese cell phone number, then demanded that I accompany him out of the park (what on earth for?) then, giggling like a halfwit, he grabbed my hand, tight, which isn't what I'd read the Chinese do, and trotted down the path, I suspect showing off his new English friend like a new pet. When he started to kiss my hand, I stopped in my tracks, told him: "I don't know what the F you're playing at, Bub, but I'm outta here." Then I walked away from
Mr Crackpot, and bought myself a canteloupe from a nice woman with a truck parked outside the gate. I also checked that this idiot wasn't going to try to stalk me. If I start getting strange phone calls and heavy breathing my phone, I have this person's number and will ask one of the female teachers at school to report him to the police. I'm really not sure what was going on. I'm willing to write it off as some lonely retired guy (he told me he was a teacher, hmm not sure that's true) biting off more than he could chew by trying to communicate with the foreign woman.
I also bought some raw sugar, 2 forks and a "sunning rack". You clip your laundry to the clothes pins and then hang the contraption from a hook that hangs from a rail inside your window cage. I guess if anything falls off, you go downstairs to retrieve it. Good thing I'm only on the 2nd floor.
It cost me a total of 3 yuan for a round trip on the No. 6 bus. It should be 4, but on the outbound I watched other passengers put coins in the exact change box, and I'm sure they only put in 1 coin. I guess the driver didn't care.
As I had to take my tray of 21 eggs back to the apartment, I cut my downtown visit short. I guess it's BYO egg carrier around here, so a miracle I got them all back, unbroken.
I think I'll go back downtown later today and check out a big street market I saw in the side streets near the hotel I stayed in for my first 2 nights in Tongling. I'm guessing that's where I'll find vegetables and fresh meat.
Various bbq duck street hawkers ply my apartment block, but I'm not sure I can trust the cleanliness of hot duck being hauled around on the back of a tricycle in near 90 degree heat. Once I figure out how to ask the guy when he cooked it, and how much per slice or per gram or whatever measure they use here, I will try it. Survival Mandarin 101, and not in my phrase book.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
I'm not sure why we are being treated to fireworks today. There is a national holiday tomorrow (mid Autumn Festival) where people give moon cakes as gifts. However, all week I've been hearing explosions at random times of the day or night. I don't think this morning's show is related to any festival. Perhaps someone needs to drive out a few personal demons or mark some event known only to him or her. It's quite amazing. No one is else is paying one bit of notice. No lights are coming on, nor are there any angry shouts from the apartments all around here.
It's all apparently totally normal.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
Sunday, August 31, 2014
I amused myself on the 11 hour flight yesterday by watching the multilingual inflight movies. I watched nearly all of La Grand Boucle, a French slapstick comedy about a bike store clerk who accidentally rides the Tour de France route and becomes a folk hero. I had to watch in French with Mandarin subtitles, as no English version. Just over 1 year ago I was looking at the Annecy TDF stage setup, with all the inflatable starting ramps, barricades to prevent the crowds colliding with the peleton,and exquisite alpine scenery all around. What a difference a year makes.
9 floors below, in the wide street between buildings, I can just make out a guy on a bike with a big cargo rack on the back, going about his business on a weekday morning.
I'm sort of curious to learn about the state of China's bike culture these days.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
I leave on Saturday.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Still, on this "bluest blue you've ever seen" day in Seattle it was fun.
This is the last time I'll be riding in Seattle until 2015. I'm off to China next month to teach English. This time, my suitcase will carry teaching swag, not a bike. But perhaps I'll get to rent some wheels once I've settled into my new digs. Once upon a time the #1 transportation device was the bicycle. Given all the tales I've heard of persistent air pollution, maybe one day they'll be smart and go back.
Since 2010, I've had the opportunity to travel outside the US every year. This teaching gig wasn't something I knew about until mid-July, so the decision to head out has been a lot faster than I usually like. Chances like this are "once in a blue moon" events. I reinvented myself as an English language teacher so that I had options to combine biking and meaningful work for which there's near term sustainable demand. Check, check. I sincerely hope it's a wonderful trip where I acquaint myself with the real China, teach some smart teens, and learn enough Mandarin to be able to get around with grace and confidence.
Access to the internet will take figuring out, plus I'll be working 5 days. No worries. My blog will continue.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Fantastic weather today is a bonus. But I sort of miss the bad old days when the police used to try to arrest the nudists who used to gate crash the event to the hoots and hollers of the crowd.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
So I'm having a lunch break at the Thorp Mill before I turn my handlebars into to wind.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
This is the miracle of California.
Plus, added bonus, I appear to have attached my pedals to the correct side of the crank arms.
That's also miraculous in my book.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
It's going to be cool and clear tonight so this is just the ticket after negotiating LAX with my boxed bike and driving a rental car in stop and go traffic up HWY 101.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
I like trains. Since 2011 I've been on the Ghan to Darwin and back, the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney and the Overlander from Adelaide to Melbourne in Australia. 2 Christmases ago I did the Cairns to Kuranda day trip. Last year it was various Deutschebahn trains in Germany, the SNCF in France, and the Eurostar through the Chunnel from Paris to London.
Tomorrow I fly to California to train as a bike tour leader. I packed my touring bike for air travel before I left for this conference. I hope I can fit it easily into a rental car as I have to get to Buellton for the course, then back by Friday to attend a faculty meeting before spring quarter starts the following Monday. The logistics are definitely a puzzle.
Portland would be worth a return bike trip when it's a little drier.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Let it rain.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Rode the train for a 3 hour run through cloud, rain, blue sky and sunbreaks (typical spring in the pacific NW) alongside a stretch of Puget Sound you can't see from a car and got to PDX too late for happy hour. So walked the bike through the Pearl District to the HI hostel. It's a scruffy late C19th rooming house. I have a lower bunk in a poorly lit warren of rooms with 7 other budget travelers. I'll be perfectly fine. By now I'm a veteran of hostels in several countries so I select US ones primarily for location and pack ear plugs and an eyemask. If any of my roomies choose to be inconsiderate like some of the jackasses I met during last year's tour of Germany, well I have a repertoire of responses to choose from. If I have to deal with a repeat of the noisy sex of my roommates from Baden Baden, this timeout will show no mercy and I will toss their sorry behinds out of the room, irrespective of time. Baden Baden really was a nadir of budget traveling for sure. On the recommendation of the reception folks I had an inexpensive meal (bowl of brown rice, black eyed peas, collards and pulled pork at Laughing Planet, a noisy veggie, vegan and locavore place decorated with plastic dinosaurs. Sadly, my days of dining on an expense account are long gone, and in my bike knicker pants and riding rain jacket I fit right into Portland's alternative world. All I lack is an unusual hair color and piercings. I had thought of packing my joke tattoo arm warmers for the full fashion statement but decided I was plenty weird enough just choosing to visit Portland like this. The next 4 days are 60% rain so I'm just gonna deal with it. I need to study the map as I don't want to wipe out on the MAX tracks.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Monday, January 6, 2014
So, I've signed up with a big touring cyclist club to learn how to be a trip leader. The requirements: have some experience doing long distance self supported touring (check) and be ready to learn management of group dynamics along with all the other logistics. Sort of sounds like my typical classroom management!
This March I will spend 4 days near Buellton, CA, in Santa Barbara County, north of Los Angeles.
This gives me a little motivation to keep bike commuting this semester.
I'll also need to relearn how to pack and unpack and repackage my full sized bike for a plane ride.