Having a weeklong holiday* in your first month is pretty nice, but I didn’t know ahead of time so I wasn’t able to get a hotel or train ticket to see another part of the country. But with the arrival of my new mattress on Saturday, I’ve been enjoying sleeping and sleeping late. Which is a good thing, because I’ve had a cold most of the week and didn’t feel like doing too much anyway. I’ve read a few books (in the comfort of my new mattress) and also have finally been able to watch TV. My coworker neighbor T put some of his downloaded movies and TV shows onto a USB for me. I’ve now watched The Karate Kid three times! (The new one, with Jackie Chan in China).
I did go out a few times though, since I had to buy food. Once, when I stopped to check out Lazhu Mountain, and another time with T, who took me to a new grocery that has a very small imports section and I was able to buy Kelloggs corn flakes. The specialty store across the street was closed unfortunately. They have cheese.
I also walked back to the shopping area across from the main entrance to look for Vitamin C at the pharmacy there. They didn’t have any, but I saw the guys from the barbershop having tea in front of their place (they have a little table set up with hot water, cups, and a teapot) and asked them how much they’d charge to cut my hair. They gave me a couple of prices and were eager to have a customer (they weren’t busy, which is why they were all outside drinking tea). They tried to usher me inside, but I was already tired from shopping (and my cold), so I told them tomorrow. That was Friday.
So, yesterday morning, I got up, showered, ate cornflakes, and then walked to the barbershop. It’s further than Nancheng, the grocery store just past Lazhu Mountain. When I arrived, they greeted me and had me sit down, and brought me a cup of hot water (more on that later). Then they didn’t seem to know what to do with me. I’m still on lesson 2 of my Chinese language app, and their English was about the same. Finally, one of the stylists came over with his phone and used Google Translate to ask me what I wanted done. (I’d been making scissor motions with my hand). Once we got that straight, he typed in a large number. Fortunately I’d been warned about ‘bargaining’ by Carol, and using the low price I’d been quoted the day before, I got him to reduce the cost considerably. I probably still overpaid, but it was less than $30 which is half of what I pay back in STL.
The cashier/trainee kept taking photos (maybe I was their first foreigner) so I got him to share them with me. I got the name of my stylist: ‘Small Army’- he kept saying it into the Google Translate app! I finally got him to say it in Chinese for me: Xiao Jun. He was extremely gentle – I barely knew he was doing anything, though I could see him snipping away and bits of hair falling. Interestingly, he washed my hair twice – once before the haircut and again afterwards before blowdrying it. And the shampoo station was relaxing, with no crunched neck like you get in the US. I think he may have done a better haircut than my regular stylist…….sorry Debbie!
* Commonly referred to as ‘Golden Week’, the National Holiday (that’s what they call it) is the first week of October, with the Mid-Autumn Festival (think moon cakes) thrown in. It’s a BIG holiday in China because it celebrates the anniversary of the People’s Republic.