Today I had a half day free in the morning, it was soooooo wonderful. They have been keeping me so busy that even a few hours to myself seemed luxurious. I managed to finally catch some of the Olympics other than the seemingly endless curling (what a weird thing that is). I watched some of the figure skating medalists' encore performances. Also finally had time to run the mop around the floors; it still needs to be done again, but it's much better, I can at least step onto the floor without my feet turning black.
One of our keepers took another foreign teacher and I out to get our bus pass, bank account and cell phones today. Just after we started out the light rain changed to hail, and shortly after that it was snowing. At first the snow was so pretty, it really changed the look of the city. I took a few pictures, but since I forgot to bring my camera cable with me, I can't upload them until I find an SD-USB converter here.
It snowed for at least an hour, enough for snow to stick on the ground and make a HORRIFIC mess. It was slippery as can be, I wished I had my hiking boots. The streets are now filled with dark brown goopy slush and water. Found out that my faux Ugg boots are not watertight. Fortunately, only a little water leaked in around the toes, the rest of the boot stayed warm.
Because of the cold and wet, we won't be going out to the restaurant tonight after all. That's fine with me, because I really want some time to relax more than anything else.
Before I crash, I should probably put my mucky wet clothes back on and go out and get some bottled water, I'm almost out. The tap water here is truly horrid, it tastes of mud or something worse, even after boiling.
It was snowing again,windy, and beginning to get dark, so I decided not to go out after all, I'll brave it in the morning instead. I just cooked my first meal, some stir fried eggplant with chili paste and soy sauce (the only condiments I have so far), and used the rice cooker to make rice and steamed broccoli. I need to surf for some recipes and stir fry tips, the eggplant took a ton of oil to keep from sticking, that can't be right. I miss my nonstick cookware already.
It's the Lantern Festival today (or all week, I'm not sure), so the locals are setting off fireworks in the courtyard, all round the buildings, all over the city... I feel like I'm in a war zone. I'm not talking bottle rockets and roman candles here; these are HUGE. Apparently fireworks are only legal during the Spring Festival (what we call Chinese New Year) and the Lantern Festival, which I think sort of run together for a two or three week long explosion fest. Fortunately (I think), there is nothing flammable around, it's just a concrete jungle. There are some grubby little plants struggling here and there. The grounds of this building have fake flowers stuck in the ground interspersed with the sad little plants.
Took the bus home alone for the first time today (I've mostly been walking) and was lucky enough to get my stop, for a few moments after I got off the bus I didn't recognize anything and was afraid I was lost, but then I saw my street. Phew!
In this pic it has just begun snowing.
By the time we finished at the bank and went to the bus stop it had been snowing for about 30 minutes. In this pic you can see where someone made a little snowman on the trashcan, and also how quickly the snow was churned into muddy slush by the cars.
We crossed this river on the way to the cell phone store, it looked so beautiful with the snow falling and the steam forming a fog over the river.
Here is a picture from my kitchen window of the courtyard covered in snow. The statue in the middle is seen from the side; from the front, it's a bird feeding its chicks in a nest and quite lovely. The buildings are all part of the apartment complex. I'm on the second floor.