Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Too much excitement (or general stuff) in January

I can't believe we're nearly 3 weeks into 2009 already.  Things are busy slash exciting, so I'm just going to bullet point the notable events, knowing full well I won't come back to elaborate on them later.

Adding to the (sometimes) fun times:
  • 04 January - New flatmate moved in.  Have to work on a Sunday to make up for "three" (really just one) days off for New Year.
  • Early-mid January - Vague, slack preparation within the department for the dreaded end of year party.  Lots of projects with upcoming deadlines.
  • 15 January - Decided to go to Thailand to hang out with a friend of mine (sorry, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, London).  Booked the ticket at 3am.  Finally received some long-awaited items from the UK.
  • 16 January - Don't do much at work as we finally throw something together for the costume competition and 'performance'.  Don't get me started on how I feel about the Yankee Swap.  Party was not as abysmal as I expected.  I drew number 1 for the swap, and stubbornly kept my own present (although who couldn't love a pink sheep pillow?).  Party ended promptly at 10pm, at which time 90% of people went home.  I drank too much wine and was not functioning by 2am.
  • 17 January - My Chinese birthday.  Spent the weekend watching Firefly and Serenity.
  • 19 January - Find out another friend is going to be in Chiang Mai next week.  Very exciting!

And now the future stuff:
  • 20 January - The Obama inauguration.  Partying is planned for later.  Did you know that Obama-related words are at the top of the Top Words List for 2008 (according to The Global Language Monitor)?
  • 24 January - Working on a Saturday to give us time off during the week.
  • 25 January - Chinese New Year's Eve. 
  • 26 January - Day 1 of the Year of the Ox (and Australia Day).  Fly to Chiang Mai.
  • 27 January - I officially get older.
  • 30 January - Leave Chiang Mai, hopefully after good times a-plenty.
  • 31 January - Get back to Shanghai.
  • 01 February - Go to work on a Sunday, to make up for the time off for New Year.  Sense a pattern here?  Auckland gets a 3 day weekend for Anniversary Day.  I ... have to work.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year!

So I'm sitting in my flat waiting for someone to come and have a look at the spare room.  I was planning to go to the post office today (as I had stayed up until about 5am getting packages ready to send) and then spend the rest of the day doing work that I need to have done for work tomorrow.  The beginning of a 6 day week, no less.  So, I woke up a bit later than expected, to a phone call from a guy who was interested in seeing the room for his friend.  As I had expected to be alone in the flat until the 8th, and partially related to getting five packages ready to post, the place was a bit of a mess (okay, very untidy, but not so much dirty).  So I had to spend a couple of hours getting the place and my room ready.  Imagine my disgust when I realised that there was random crap and dirt in the spare room, and the last flatmate had somehow broken the closet.  I made it all look as passable as possible (I do not want to pay half of that room's rent next month as well), but it still looks pretty bleak in there.  I made the bed to make it look a little bit more liveable.  And now they are late.  Argh.

The new year has started out okay.  I went over to a friend's place for New Year, which I was really happy to get an invitation to.  I hadn't seen her nearly as much as I should have last year (hmm, that's the first time I've called it that), and just managed to catch her online on NYE,  so pretty much invited myself over.  It worked out well.  They had plenty of food and drinks, and also UFC.  That is Ultimate Fighting Championship for those not in the know (like me).  The boys are pretty into it, by all accounts.  I...didn't expect the last thing I'd do in 2008 to be watch guys try to beat the crap out of each other, but hey.  Roll with it.  I had a lot of fun and hope that I'll see more of those guys this year.

On New Year's Day I woke up to a text from James, which was nice.  About 30 seconds later, I got a phone call which wasn't so nice.  The CEO was calling to ask me if I had internet access at home.  Just before I left on NYE, I had run into him and he asked me if I was able to check my email "tonight...or tomorrow".  Come on!  It's New Year's Eve.  So imagine my dismay waking up to that on New Year's Day.  He wanted me to proof an email that he was sending out to the whole company.  He wanted it done that day, but we're not back until the 4th (a Sunday, which I'm not pleased about either).  The only good part of that phone call was that I got to hear Dave's ringtone.  Anyway, I did it, so as to start the year off with minimal procrastination (I even cooked myself a frittata for breakfast), and as at the 3rd, I haven't had any reply from him.  To further add to my NY rage, the maid came, ran the washing machine, emptied the bins, but didn't appear to do anything else.  She didn't do any of my ironing or my laundry, and I have no idea what she washed, because it wasn't anything in the flat. 

The rest of my day was spent shopping.  I went for a wander to try to find a 'cute shop' that my sister had found on the other side of People's Square.  Either I didn't remember her instructions properly, or she had told me the wrong way, but it took me ages before I found it.  In the meantime, I bought some street food, spilled some delicious meat juice on one of my mittens, found the biggest bookstore I've seen thus far (seven floors, totally packed with people, and probably a good thing that I couldn't read most of the books), marvelled at how many people could queue up in a cafe, bought some snacks at a supermarket, saw some disturbing carcasses in crates outside a butcher, and saw a kid about to poo on the street (who deals with the results of these sorts of things?!).  I ended up buying all manner of vaguely pointless cute things, and somehow justified it all.  Then a trip to another cute shop to repeat the process.  By that time I was ready to eat again so I went home via a bubble tea stand and the food place where I can just point at the stuff that I want.  Then for some reason I had a Will Smith night and watched I Am Legend and The Pursuit of Happyness.  I mostly enjoyed them both, but the latter made me kind of sad.  Sometimes I think Will Smith is a bit overrated, but sometimes I really quite like him.

Yesterday was spent sleeping in and then going to Tesco, which was very exciting.  I resisted the temptation to buy a massive padded men's dressing gown with Chinese print, but did buy some long underwear and yet another pair of slippers (I will have one for each day of the week soon, I'm sure), plus quite a bit of other stuff.  Tesco in China is not quite the same as it is in the UK (understatement), but they do have Tesco Value branded stuff, and a meat floss counter.  For the uninitiated, pork floss is really popular here, and as far as I know it's concocted from dry-frying very small bits of pork.  I think.  It's quite good, but is found on a disturbingly high number of bakery products.  Anyway, the counter had a whole bunch of different kinds of floss, but I only know this because all the prices were different.  I have no idea what the types were.  I didn't find the two things I wanted to buy, but never mind.  I now have long johns.  Bonus.  Also, on the way home, my taxi driver blatantly lied and told me that I speak Chinese really well.  Still, it made me smile.  And maybe I do pronounce my handful of words really well, who knows?

Oh, an update: the guy who came to see the flat today (with his dad and mentor) will be moving in this week.  I hope.  I don't really want to be paying extra rent for January too.  He is from Atlanta, and seems pretty acceptable upon the first meeting.  Although I have decided not to live in Asia with any more old American men (yes, never again), I think the younger ones tend to be okay.  Fingers crossed, anyway!