Day 77 - Applause of the Elderly

Sunday, April 24th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

I spend most of the morning figuring out how to download apps using the Chinese app store, “Baidu app store,” and “AppsChina.” The second is where you can find the final fantasy games for free, mac daddy. It's also the more trustworthy of the two (to me), so it's the only one that gets a link.

Tech Struggles

See, VPNs allow you to access the google play store… and without them, it’s a difficult time downloading and set-up apps. It’s especially difficult to get the apps that aren’t provided by the chinese app stores, aka apps that are blocked in china. Which apps are blocked in China, you ask? VPNs of course! What a fun catch-22! 
"Park partially on a sidewalk and obscuring a lane of traffic? Sure, why not!
Not like I'm in one of the most populated cities in the world! Ha-ah!"

I try using my old phone’s terrible signal as a hotspot with the VPN on, but that doesn’t work. Try Shimou's; no go. I was in the midst of figuring out how to use my laptop as a wifi hotspot when a coworker suggested I just download the APK file from a mirror website* and transfer that onto my phone... Bingo. That is the way to go, so much more painless and effective.

Now we’re in business. Only a matter of getting a SIM card that fits in the new phone.

Everything today was pushed back, waiting for deliveries, waiting to get stuff set up. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Food delivery, and another friend was going to spot me money that I asked for as a “just in case” sort of thing. After they arrive, Shimou doesn’t want to go to the gym anymore. Damn it, I’m going anyway.

Applause of the Elderly

At the gym, the weight tree is barren. Must not have been watered. Unsurprising, given how no one reracks weights. After using the bench press, I collect the sprawled weights back onto the tree. I figure people think I’m weird for doing this, but an old, super-jacked man literally applauds me. Back home, shower, nap. Time has run out because it’s after 7, which is when I’m supposed to meet Bob for our weekly game session.

Just some workers doin' their thing in the middle of an intersection
That car isn't stopped, by the way. Traffic just move around them.
(They hope)
I run the 1km to the train station to find Bob sitting on the steps. Mr.Cab man, whisk us to the next district of town, would you?

[Nerd-Engine ENGAGE!]

We talk about games on steam. I’ve been playing Enter the Gungeon, which is a top-down, rogue-like shooter with RPG elements. It’s really difficult, but you can pick it up and play. That makes it all the more appealing, since I don’t have many long stretches of time that I can dedicate to playing. He tells me about Stardew Valley, which is a game I had been eyeing. Apparently it’s like old-school Harvest Moon (pre-3D), and is even better. Damn, now I’m sold. Catch: it’s only for PC. Well, it’s tech, so there’s gotta be some sort of work around.

On to the Underdark...

Leaving from the last game, I was going to the Lepers foot to get information on a Sigil we had found in the giant-mushroom garden. They bring me to the back, where I find the bigwig and introduce myself, pay my respects. I am then taken to a smaller backroom by his right-hand and two armed men. They ask me how I discovered the thieves guild, suspecting me to be a cop. I tell them the truth: I’m an alcoholic who fell assbackward into a job and decided to let it ride! They accept this and force me to learn basic Thieves Cant, which is their system of symbols and signs. They let me know I can be trained in various things, and give me a map on how to get the hell out of the Underdark, should I choose to go that way.

In a tavern, we make friends with the bouncer, who is a “dragonborn,” aka a scaly humanoid with a dragon’s head. He jovially gets us all drunk insisting that me and the moon elf crash in his room. Next morning, we’re up and moving to help with the job that he proposed we do. Cool.

Out of town and following the dragonborn’s map, we come to a sheer cliff. After some investigation, we see a piton in the rock face and decide to rapel down. After some very cautious progression, we find Thieves Cant on the wall (immediately came in handy - how about that!). It says that the guy we’re looking for was sure he found his grandpa’s work and wanted to make it known that he was successful. He was leaving this message in case he didn’t make it.

We hear some screaming, and off runs the Paladin Dragonborn, who must do the right thing and save the innocent! We find 4 "giant" spiders surrounding a wrapped body, each about the size of a large dog. Delicious. Fight to the death! It was very drawn out, yet only one of us got hit before wiping the pests out.

We free the guy and ask if he’s hurt. He’s not hurt. In fact, he’s perfectly unscathed. Also, the spiders were moving strangely, and smelled different than we’d expect when burnt. Something’s up.

“so.. you must be pretty amazing at life if you were somehow able to get captured by those spiders, yet stay completely unharmed, eh?” I prod.

And with that, the session ends because it was nearly 1am. Why did we end there? Probably because he was going to lash out and have another prolonged fight with us. But we won’t know until next session!

[Nerd Engine DISengage…]

Just some cart-stores set up when I return home.
They're a curiosity to me; I'm a curiosity to them.
During one of our breaks, Bob and I had gone downstairs for him to take a smoke and walk me through something in private. A random Chinese man staggered up, intoxicated. He tried to practice his English, but ended up getting confused by us.

“You look very…” he begins to say to Bob.
“Don’t do it.” Bob calmly responds.
“…strong.” the man finishes.

Bob is a rather large man, and expected the sometimes pointed, rude comments that Chinese people can give; he expected the man to call him fat. Bear in mind that Chinese people’s standards of fat is pretty small, even though they forgive fatness in foreigners more than Chinese. That doesn’t mean they don’t consider us fat - they just forgive/accept it.

After the game session, 3 Chinese men were yelling loudly and quickly at one another near our usual cab corner. Ana suggested we stay away from them. As in any country, foreigners can sometimes be an outlet of anger, and it’s best to not invite the opportunity. Luckily, a cab pulled up right then and I was outta heeeeahhhh.

*a website that has copies of things

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
[che-ah] (surprising, I get it)
Stop Here
tīng zhè
(ting/tee-ung jurr]

Editing Music
Main Theme
Café Alpha

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