Steve's China Blog

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Back at work

Back at work today after two weeks vacation. Today is Sunday and we are working today so that we could have off last Friday without using a vacation day. Most of our customers are still on holiday, so it's not too busy today.

Probably the most enjoyable part of vacation is not having to get out of bed at any particular time. Usually I sleep about 6 hours a night during my work week, but during vacation I sleep anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. So, what else did I do during my vacation (besides sleep)? Most of the time I spent playing Everquest 2 (EQ2), reading Flashman and the Mountain of Light, shopping, cooking, and eating, as well as attending a few parties.

The first two days of vacation was spent sleeping and playing EQ2. In EQ2 they were having their Christmas event, which is called Frostfell. It was a lot of fun little holiday-type quests, and there were a some holiday-type fluff items that you could get for you characters, as well as some very good items. It was pretty fun, and I got a lot of junk for all of my characters.

The day after that I joined Amber for lunch at a really nice Sichuan restaurant. Then we went to Carrefour and shopped for a new rice cooker and a bunch of groceries. Amber cooked dinner for me that evening at my apartment. She cooked a soup made of egg and seaweed; a dish made of sliced pork, celery, and ginger; and also cooked some rice using my new rice cooker. It was very good. I wanted to try to cook some Chinese dishes during the holiday, but discovered that the fan above my stove was not working. Something you definitely need when cooking with all that oil.

On Christmas Eve I went out to a party with Tina. I know Tina likes to sing, but did not know she liked to dance and it turns out she is a really great dancer. I can not remember when the last time I had such a good time dancing with someone. I wish I hadn't forgot my camera... Oh well. Sometime during the party I ran into the owner of the Shamrock Pub and he invited me over for Christmas dinner.

I spent Christmas day sleeping and reading more of Flashman and the Mountain of Light. Probably not the most appropriate thing to be reading on Christmas (Flashy is so anti-religous sometimes), but it was nice to read something other than technical manuals. On Christmas evening I went over to have dinner at the Shamrock Pub, and they had a very nice dinner setup for us. The owner had invited about 20 of us over for dinner. The guests were from the Australia, Belgium, China, England, New Zealand, and me from the USA. For dinner we had steak and salmon, or chicken and ham; as well as a salad, vegetables, and a Christmas pudding (which is sort of like fruitcake with rum in it). It was all very nice! Forgot my camera again... drats!

The next few days were spent sleeping, eating, reading, playing EQ2, etc... Pretty much just relaxing and hanging out at the apartment. One night I watched the movie The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It was an ok action-packed adventure that is a good way to waste an evening. I'll have to see if I can find that one on DVD. I also watched a Redskins game that my Father had recorded on DVD and sent to me. I miss being able to watch football. If the Redskins ever have a good season I am sure I will miss it even more.

One day I got together with Reese and we went looking for a Muslim restaurant we had heard about near the south gate of Sichuan University. Luckily our taxi driver knew where it was, and we didn't have much trouble finding it. We had dapanji, lamb kabobs, naan (bread), and some lamb soup. The place that we usually go for dapanji has much better dapanji than this place, but that is all they serve. This new place had a lot more to choose from. I guess if I ever want dapanji I will go to the old place, but I'm sure to go back to the new place to try some dishes from Xinjiang province.

On New Year's Eve day I got together with Amber and we went out to lunch at a Korean restaurant I had heard about. The food was very good, but a little more costly then the other Korean place I had been to in ChengDu. It turns out that the manager (owner?) of the place is from Korea and we got a chance to talk a little bit before leaving. I use to live in Korea 24 years ago (has it really been that long?), and I was surprised at how much of my Korean I had forgotten (yep... long time).

After lunch I went back to my apartment for some more sleep and a little EQ2. Amber and I were suppose to meet up that evening to go to a party, but she canceled at the last minute so I went by myself. The party was very crowded and I got to see a lot of old friends and meet a bunch new ones. Forgot my camera again. After the big countdown I was hanging out with two young ladies, one of whom I knew from before and one I had just met that evening. They were both a lot of fun to chat with. We left the party at around 3:00am and decided to go to a bath house that was nearby.

This was the first bath house that I had been to in ChengDu. I had been to a Korean one in Dalian before, but this was a little different. The ladies went off to the ladies' section and I wondered off to the men's section. First stop was the sauna where I sat and sweated as much of 2008 out of me as I could. Then a long soak in the hot tub. Ahhh. After that I was given some pajama-like outfit to wear, and then I went looking for a cigarette and the ladies I had come with.

Like almost everything in ChengDu, the bathhouse was a very relaxing place. There were lots and lots of people sprawled out on couches and big comfy chairs everywhere. Some people were still up playing mahjong, but most of the place was snoozing. Eventually I found the ladies I had come with. One of them curled up on a big comfy chair and went to sleep, and I ended up talking to the other one for a few hours. Eventually I went home and to bed. I think it was a little after 7:00am.

On New Year's day I slept most of the day. I woke up for a few hours in the afternoon, since my housekeeper came over to clean. I had forgotten to tell her she did not have to come over that day. After she left I slept some more and then got up at around 7:00pm to have some dinner and I watched the movie The Express (The Ernie Davis Story). That was a pretty good movie too. Reminded me how crazy the crowds at WVU football games were when I went to school there (but not for the same reasons now). After that I went back to sleep and didn't wake up until later the next day.

Friday was just a lot of eating, reading, and playing a little EQ2. Yesterday I went to Hooters for brunch and had the steak and eggs, played some more EQ2 in the afternoon, and then went to join my friends Cynthia, Tony, and some friends of Tony's for dinner at a hotpot place. It was a nice way to end the holidays.


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