Day 3 - Kumquat Tea and a Brazilian Man

Trees Live Inside Maan Coffee
Kumquat Tea
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

5:30am. Again. I wake up, and not the sort of groggy "roll over and fall back asleep easily" kind of waking, but more the "spring awake and jump out of bed" kind. This would be good if I didn't crash, hard, everyday around 12pm-3pm. The plan today is to avoid naps while doing stuff in town so that I can fall asleep earlier.

We went to “Jin Ding Xuan,” a middle-of-the-road, decently priced restaurant that’s open 24h. Shimou said it’s primarily good for when you’re drunk after the bar. The food is what I expected it to be - foreign, but not crazy outlandish with few seemingly healthy options. This may be because this place is something like their fast food. I'd recommend the Kumquat tea, and Sichuan-style Wonton soup if you go. Fair warning: Sichuan province is known for its spicy food. In this case, it made my mouth go numb, but not in a painful way. I liked it!

People staring at me isn’t as common as I expected, only about 1 in 20 people. Cafe, Gym, Groceries, and sundries are on the docket today. Oh, and figuring out how to get hot water again.

Mall Decoration / Advertisement?
First the gym, which no mall employee seemed to know how to locate. We asked several people, but no one seems to know anything about the building in which they work. One guy, standing in front of a shop, didn’t know anything either. While chatting with him, however, his friend came up and placed his chin on the original guy’s shoulder. The second guy directed us to the elevator and told us it was on the top floor. We wandered a mostly-empty floor, locating it to find it’s not so much a weight/cardio gym as an activity complex (basketball, tennis, etc.) Well, there goes that. Off to the bank!

Seems there’s a card we have to use to get gas to heat the water, but we don’t really know where to put it. My roommate has added me on to "Wechat" and explained that we could add money to the account by going to the Bank of Beijing. I didn’t realize Shimou wanted to help me open an account today, so I didn’t bring my passport. No passport, no account! Though, we did find out that the card has 150.. uh.. “units” on it, which should be more than enough.

One of Shimou's favourite caf├ęs, “Maan Coffee,” was down the street. Really nice decor, I gotta say - much better than the outside would have indicated. Trees and books all over the place, warm lighting, dark wood with pillows. Shimou tutored me in mandarin while we sat and enjoyed our coffee. The internet still wouldn’t connect. These VPNs are very, very frustratingly inconsistent. It seems like they’re more likely to fail than work. Something like.. 20% success rate? I’m juggling 3 different ones on my laptop and 4 on my phone - still only 20%.
Not all that impressive outside...

After Maan, we went back to the massive mall in search of the grocery store, which is apparently in the basement. Labelled as a supermarket, it was more like a shoddy Walmart… with far less organization. A lot of randomly placed kitchenware or appliance items, and repeats randomly placed. One aisle had pots and pans, the next had coat hangers, the next had sporting equipment and wall mounts, and then kitchen appliances. No logical order that I could tell, and random items that belonged to aisles we’d already passed. Like frying pans. Now that I think of it... primarily frying pans.

Maans' Visual Menu
All fake, and not uncommon
practice here.
Wandering the "supermarket" isn't my idea of fun, especially when the jetlag is in full force and my makeshift ally, caffeine, has abandoned me. Initiating zombie mode. We’re nearly done, but still need to grab food for dinner. While looking for coffee, I came across a lively, salt-and-pepper haired Brazilian man who started a conversation with me because he assumed I spoke English. He’s been here for 2 months, and teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the mall. After extending an invitation to both of us for a free lesson at Monday night, he departed. Well that’s convenient and close! He dodged the question of price, however...

Back at the apartment, we attempted, with some frustration, to fix the water heater. Shimou was following instructions from her mom on the phone, so I left her to it. I’m not much use with mandarin instructions I can hardly hear. Eventually we figured out that you had to insert the card, allow the credit to transfer, but also had to have batteries in it. 4 AA batteries.. in a natural gas unit.. that’s permanently transfixed to the wall. Why the hell does it run on batteries?!

With that solved, I went to bed looking forward to a hot shower in the morning.

Editing Music: Two Way Street - Kimbra

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