So like I said before, for the past two months, I've been walking to my classes from my home. This is between a one or two mile walk if I had to guess; it takes me 35-40 minutes to walk there (comfortably, I can make it quicker). From the first day I walked to my class until now, I've passed by a food place located at the end of Guangba Lu. Again, the whole street is amazing; it's covered by "mom and pop" places...the kind free market economies wish they still produced, as opposed to the walmarts and mcdonalds and what not. This shop at the corner is the best of the best though. When I first got here, if I were to have chosen one place to order from on Guangba, it would've been this one. Why? Because of one food item. I hadn't experienced one until a few evenings ago...
Everyday I passed by the place, I'd eye up these rolls that looked like they were made of a rice-like dough, which were first steamed and then lightly pan fried for a short time...the process is one which I would guess is similar to the making of an english muffin. They seriously looked so frickin delicious. But, my inability to speak anything had stopped me from ordering them. I'd thought about them a lot, though. I asked some of my coworkers about what they are, and they told me they're called "Bao zi." They're one of those things that you never hear about that's all over the place here, but are so ridiculously delicious that you wonder how you'd never heard of them. Anyway the point is, I spent all of the walk back from work that day summoning the courage to buy "liang ge bao zi" (a pair of bao zi -- I was heavily coached), and then bought some for a wallet-crunching 1.5 RMB. I finally had in my possession a small bag of two of these things that I'd anticipated having since the middle of August. I reached in the bag and took a bite. My brain erupted. I was like a kid in a Gushers commercial. The roll was like the most deliciously baked bread roll you've ever had, the bottom and top of which were lightly blackened, and the inside of which was filled with noodles, pork, and green onions that had been cooked together in a brown sauce (oyster sauce, if I had to guess). That's right, onions were in it, and they didn't taste like garbage. The thought of having a Bao zi makes coping with the withdrawal from burritos a little easier...
Also, in an effort to catch up to now, I finally got paid for the first time last Monday. It was funny -- they dont make out checks here so they paid me in cash. Also funny is that there is no denomination of currency higher than the 100 RMB note, so what they gave me for my salary was a huge stack of 100's. I quickly deposited that into the nearest ATM.
Not much else to say. This weekend I just slept a ton, did work, cleaned the apt, juggled my soccer ball, studied chinese, etc. I went to pizza hut for my weekly injection of America. Finally now that I have money, I was actually able to look at things that I was interested in buying. I have a few ideas of what to buy, but feel free to make suggestions:
- dvd player -- Necessary. My computer doesnt play any movie files and I'm gonna go insane. It's also a crime that I'm not taking advantage of (as far as I'm aware) legal bootlegging.
- camera -- Necessary. I need to show ya'll how awesome this place is, and who I work with, and probably my class. Just to give you a glimpse, heres a picture of me teaching (taken by one of my students in a moment of surprise).
- dinner/gifts for my co-workers -- I already bought a rose for my favorite co-worker (Ms. Han haha, I'm charming her up good), but now that i have money I'd like to do something more. I'd like to get Mr. Dong a nice bottle of wine, he's been helping me out a lot since I got here, and something else nice for Ms. Han, but that'll take more thought (again, suggestions welcome).
- shoes/shirts -- There's a bunch of shops here that sell nice shirts and shoes that I'd like to go to. Apparently, tho, bargaining with the shopkeepers is a necessity, so I'll have to have Ms. Han or someone come with me so they can lower the price.
- a nice rug -- My apartment floor gets so dirty so fast. I'm thinkin a nice floor mat would make cleaning it a little more painfree.
OK now I gotta get back to planning classes. This week is one of the busiest yet...I have to plan, make, and grade midterms for all of the classes, while updating the admins with the class grades/weekly reports. I'll keep anyone with the willpower to read this as updated as I can :)