Here we go:
I’ve turned into a cheap bastard
Or how else can I explain my reaction when I tried a new canteen at uni the other day? I normally eat lunch for between 4-6 kuai at my school. Yesterday I came a bit late, and all the good stuff was gone, so I decided to try another –a little bit more fancy- canteen across the hallway (OK, it’s actually not more fancy at all. It just has more choices). I picked four dishes: 3 veggies and 1 big tofu patty with rice. I went to the counter to pay and was shocked when I was told my lunch was 9 kuai!
-NINE KUAI?! That’s kind of expensive?! I almost yelled.
Fortunately I managed to stop myself, pinch myself in the arm and remind myself that I recently had dinner at a new Spanish tapas restaurant at Times Square in Suzhou, and that that cost 200 kuai for 2 people. Scary how easily you forget.
Lunch area turned into a hospital
Since we are on the lunch topic, I might as well also share a funny view I saw when I came downstairs to have lunch the other day. On one side of the room were students eating. On the other side, a white-coat-medical team were performing health checks on students for free. Only in China!
Right side: eating
Left side: health check
Elevator turned into a toilet
So there I came, last night. Finally arrived home after a long day of uni and work and then trying to get a taxi in the rainy storm weather (I managed to forget my umbrella at a restaurant throughout the day). I was wet, cold, tired and not in the mood when I pushed the elevator button. So, when the elevator door opened and I was greeted by a big, brown dump (!) on the floor, spreading a not-so-lovely smell, I kind of felt like screaming out loud. Let’s hope it was a dog. Like the British man (who were taking the elevator with me) said:
-It surely must be too cold for little children to wear those split pants now?
Yeah. Sure hope so. However, just to make sure I’ll always take the stair from now on.
Winter has finally arrived in Suzhou. You can tell from how the flat is suddenly freezing cold. It’s quite funny actually, one week you are using the air con because it’s still so moist and humid out there, then you turn it off for 1 week or so, and then you have to turn it on again, although this time to heat up a freezing cold flat? The walls over here are paper-thin. When the wind blows outside you can see the curtains moving inside.
I had no problem with the cute little girl on the 11th floor playing the piano. She’s actually quite good, and we share a favourite melody: “Fur Elise” that she plays at least twice/day.
But when the neighbour boy started playing trumpet things went a bit sour. There I was, enjoying the little girl’s “Fur Elise” until it was suddenly interrupted by some trumpet noise. It took a while for me to figure it out, but now I know: he is trying to play “Twinkle twinkle little star” without making any mistakes. Every night. Five times. (And he hasn’t made it so far.)
The staring game on the bus
I really enjoy using public transport, so therefore, I’ve embraced my bus rides to school with joy. However, the one thing I still cannot get used to is getting on the bus and having everybody staring at me. Since I don’t catch the same bus every morning (buses in China don’t really follow a schedule… they just come when they please) it’s the same kind of story every day: I get on the bus, people’s chins drop to the floor and for the first 2 minutes on the bus I become everybody’s staring-object. I normally just try to ignore it, people tend to get bored after a while, although some days I get real fed up. Like with this old man the other day: he just wouldn’t stop staring at me, and he wasn’t even trying to be discreet. So, I decided to stare back. Like really stare. That worked. When I looked back at him he must have felt ashamed because he turned his head away… only to, 3 minutes later, look back at me again. I had to engage in the staring contest 5 times until he finally gave up.
I still don’t know why it is considered so strange to see a laowai take a bus in Suzhou? Every morning when I am waiting at the bus stop at least 4 different taxi drivers stop by, waving for me to get into their car.