china likes to block many many websites, so i’ve been keeping my china adventures posts in a word document- here are all the ones i have done so far.  i’m a little behind.  ah well.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6TH

Our first day in clinic!  We got our schedules for the next two week, which look something like this:

Acupuncture and moxibusion outpatient clinic:  8am til 11:30am.  The clinic is pretty much a giant room with beds that have these short little walls around them.  Patients here don’t schedule appointments with the doctors; they come in and see if there’s a doctor available or else take a seat next to a bed to wait their turn.  They only do acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping here –  I think the herbs are in another part of the hospital.   We follow a different doctor every day, and we’re pretty much just shadowing- they don’t let us do anything with the needles or the cupping.

Lunch: 11:30 til 1:30.  AWESOME.

Lecture: 1:30pm til 3:30 pm.  We had a lecture on the basics of acupuncture today- nothing terribly exciting, but helpful to recognize some of the words they throw around during clinic.

And then done!  Greatest schedule ever!

Our dorm is located about a 15 minute walk away from the hospital, so we’ve just been walking back and forth.  They do have the rent-a-bicycle stands everywhere, but our coordinator lady Mrs. Chen said that we shouldn’t get bicycles until about a week later so we are more familiar with the streets. That or she can tell that I’m an awful cyclist.   So, describing the main street street where we live:  When we exit our dorm, if we make a right we’ll run into this giant courtyard and lawn area.  People will do Tai Chi on the courtyard really early in the morning, and then from 7-9pm every night there is Asian line dancing!  About 200 women and sometimes men will gather here and play music and do these line dances, and it isn’t for any particular reason or for a performance- they just do it for funsies.  Dance party in China!  Yea!  Sara and I tried to join in a few times- some of the steps are easier than others, but we are determined to go for a solid two hours one of these days and learn all the dances!  Slightly beyond the giant courtyard is a lawn, and a ton of people come here to fly kites!  There’re at least 10 kite flyers every day, and on good days there could be a sky full of kites.  Another thing we are going to have to try sometime.   And then beyond this area is the market street; it’s just stalls and stalls of little shops and things.  In addition, we arrived just in time for the tea festival, so all the additional stalls that are usually empty are full of festival vendors- you can get things like tea of course, coffee, bags that have really bad English on them, buns full of red bean or stinky fruit (we bought one to try…and then did not try it because of the smell) and other things of that sort.   Near the end of the market is a place that sells interesting food.  For example, rice and meat and things cooked inside a scooped out pineapple, or a chicken baked in clay so that it looks like an egg (you crack the egg open to get to the chicken.)  If we make a left about a block or two into the market street and walk down for about 15 minutes, we’ll reach the hospital.   Horray!

We didn’t really do much the first day except to figure out where things are, establish a food and water supply, and fight the jetlag.

THURSDAY, APRIL 7TH

We got up to go to the clinic at our usual time; today we decided we’d still take a taxi out there since we had to go to the bank first, which didn’t much time for walking there.  Clinic was the same as usual as the day before; we followed around Dr. Xu as he took care of his acupuncture patients.  The room was a little better today because there wasn’t quite as much moxibustion going on.  We discovered that there was wireless in the hospital, so we would take turns to leave for a bit to call our families with the skype phone.  Everyone is super chill in the clinic; we could follow around as much as we wanted, leave to take breaks, ask questions, take pictures- pretty much do whatever we liked.  I talked to the Texas group for a long while to get an idea of what we ought to do while we were in Hangzhou since they’d been here for a while.  They suggested that we get massages because they are super cheap here, and also to get facial treatments here in the hospital (not treatments like- surgery or injections or stuff like you’d imagine in a hospital; they have a clinic on the 5th floor that does facial massages and masks and things.  Odd for a hospital, but yaaay for China).  Since we’d figured out that we were allowed to mill around and not stand at attention for 3 hours straight, the hours passed by much faster.  Acupuncture and things are very interesting to watch, but after a month of Emergency medicine where they actually let me do things/we could actually communicate well with the patients, shadowing was starting to hurt our souls a little bit.  After clinic we went to lunch; we found this super busy bun and dumpling shop where we got our meal for about a dollar per person.  Amazing!  I wanted to get hot soymilk but they ran out before we came, so we went to the bubble tea place down the street instead.  After a quick stroll over to West Lake, it was time to go back to class.  The lecture that afternoon was really good; the doctor explained some of the more practical basics of acupuncture.  For example, that the points they are looking for are really dimples between muscles or tendons and the like- it isn’t as if you have to hit the tiny pinpoint spot to get it right.  Also, he made a great analogy to explain the difference between Western and TCM; in western medicine, you might look at a mug and say that it’s round, whereas in TCM you may look at it and say that it’s colorful.  Anyway- after lecture we went back to the old market and browsed the stores for a while.  The Texans came with us, and we had to leave them behind at some point since they hadn’t seen the stores yet and were jumping on the sales sharks and helpless injured baby seal style.  We then went to a vegetarian restaurant that was recommended by some of the Israeli girls.  The food was spectacular in many ways- taste, price, and also time to wait before being served.  We seriously sat there for about two and a half hours for our four dishes.  I wasn’t terribly hungry before we went in, but they took so long that I was way hungrier after leaving.  Rather than ordering more dishes and running the risk of having to make camp there, we ran back to our dorm and went to town on the bread and snacks we’d stashed here earlier.  The restaurant also took so long that by the time we were done eating at home, it was time for bed.

FRIDAY, APRIL 8Th

We’ve decided that from now on Fridays were going to be Fun Food Fridays, so we started off the day with KFC breakfast!  There’re about 3 KFCs that we pass on the way to the hospital every morning, so we stopped in the nearest one for our morning meal.  We got soymilk, two salty breakfast rice soups and two sweet red bean rice soups, and everyone had a oil stick to go with it (oil stick is literally translated from you tiao- it’s pretty much a stick of dough deep fried to a crispy deliciousness).  Yay for breakfast!  Then we went to the clinic.  Today’s doctor had a really light schedule because her patients normally come on Tuesday and Thursday.  We did see one patient who got acupuncture with the electricity and also moxibustion, but his needles were positioned in a way down his spine and at his tailbone that he looked like a smoking stegosaurus.  Clinic ended early today- horray!  So we had two and a half hours for lunch.  Went to Banana Leaf, which they also have in America but we were told that the food was spectacular here.  It was very good, but nothing special.  Then we found the frozen yogurt place next door (much like pinkberry or red mango) where they had DRAGONFRUIT as one of their toppings!  Horray!  I heart dragonfruit!  After all of this food eating, we still had about an hour and a half before we had to go back, so we went for a walk around West Lake.  A ton of people here had apparently never seen white people before.  This one family was trying to get their small son to stand sneakily near us so they could snap a quick photo.  I decided that this was silly so I asked if they’d like to take a photo with us; immediately the whole family rushed over and got someone to take a picture.  While sitting next to a lake, tons of people would stop and actively stare, or blatantly take a picture; it was getting bothersome, so I figured the next time this happened I would take out my camera and take a picture of them as well.  After all, fair’s fair.  Anyway, we went back to the clinic for tai chi!  This tiny tiny lady had come to teach us about tai chi and to go over a few basic sequences.  It was a lot of it fun but surprisingly difficult to remember when to breath and when to move fast or slow.  People kept stopping to watch us because we were basically in this giant hallway in the hospital; we found out later that one of the guys taking pictures with a fancypants camera is actually a reporter, and we were going to be a cover story in the next day’s paper.  Huzzah!  At some point during one of the breaks, one of the Israeli boys came to talk to me, and we exchanged numbers; everyone was going to the Yellow Mountain in a week so I figured it would be a good idea for us to be able to reach people.  After the lesson we were done for the day and went back to our apt.  Sara and I had decided earlier that we want massages, and there was a place very close to where we live.  We went to check it out, and found that it was run by blind people or mostly blind people; apparently this is a thing in China.  For 1 hour of massage we paid 60 RMB- less than 10 dollars.  And it was fantastic!  It was all over the clothes, and they used new sheets on the beds and did the massage through another cloth.  They would also ask us where things hurt and they could tell where we were tense; the one guy was like ‘Tell your friend that her neck and back suck.  And by the way so does yours.  You both need to relax your heads more and not bend over so many books for so long.”  Thanks mang.  But the best part!  I am normally horribly ticklish- the last time I had a full body massage I wanted to die the whole time, and came out way more tense than I was going in.  But the person could tell when I was getting tense from being ticklish so he would his technique to avoid it- and I didn’t even have to tell him not to bother with the feet.  Greatest place ever!  We’re definitely going back many many times during this trip.  Afterwards, we went walking around the tea festival for food and funsies; we got a coconut, sushi, and these red bean cakes for dinner.  Stomach was super happy.  We also joined in on the Chinese line dancing for a couple of songs; for all that it’s sort of wonky dancing, it’s really hard to follow along.  We’re going to try standing right in the middle next time so we’ll have people to watch from every angle.  Also, during the evening the aforementioned Israeli boy texted me and asked if I would like to talk a walk around West Lake.  A very nice offer, but not one that any daughter of Amy Feng was likely to take up after a 30 second meeting and at 10:30pm.   I told him I was going to raincheck for that evening and maybe some other time, and we all went back to the dorm and called it a night.

SATURDAY, APRIL 9TH

I went for a run in the morning through the market street and back around to the dorm.  Every single person I passed looked at me like ‘What is she doing?  Is she being chased?  Why does she run?”  When I got back to the dorm, the lady here asked, “Huh.  So when you run, do you just keep sweating like that?”  Clearly, Asians do not believe in physical activity.  Or at least the need to be prepared for a race or a stampede or whatever.

Today we took a long walk along West Lake.  There’s a section that has an amazing garden with blooming trees and other flowers.

All day long, people have been stopping us to take pictures with the other three girls- they usually don’t bother asking me to be in the picture.  Also, these college students will come around with surveys that are meant to see how tourists enjoy visiting Hangzhou- again, I usually have to ask for one or else they don’t bother giving me one.  This one girl didn’t believe that I came from America; though it sort of makes me really happy that I can pass for one of the locals!  Yea!  At one point we were sitting down next to the lake to drink tea, and this group of businessmen ask to take a picture with just Sara in our group.  We figured at the time- she was already done eating and she was definitely the most blond of the girls.   However.  Later in the market, this old guy rides up to us in his bicycle, and gives us the thumbs up.  We figure he was just like- hey, Americans!  Thumbs up!  Wahoo!  But then he points directly at Sara’s boobs which are probably size double G if they make that- and then makes the “O yeah…..” face.  So apparently, it wasn’t the Americanness that was getting attention all day- it was the boobage.

SUNDAY, APRIL 10TH

Today we went to Lingying Temple.  It’s about a 15 minute taxi ride from our dorm to the temple, except that the tea festival revelers clogged up the streets so badly that it took almost an hour.  Anyway- the temple is actually a whole series of temples up the mountain; you climb up a set of stairs to reach the one pagoda, then there are more stairs behind it up to a higher part in the mountain where there’s another giant pagoda.  Each pagoda has some sort of Buddha statue in it; my favorite room was sort of divided into four quads that has many many different statues of monks doing different things- monks with monkeys, sadface monks, happy face monks, monks that have tiny miniature sidekicks, etc etc.  A lot of the pagodas have gigaaaantic Buddha statues that stand against a wall that has hundreds and hundreds of tiny monk carvings in it.  The Buddha statues themselves are at least 30 feet tall (I am a very poor estimator of size… to take a picture of the whole thing you’d have to stand fairly far back.)  There are a ton of little stalls where you can buy giant packets of incense sticks- most of the other people there had bought these and were placing them in the incense holders next to the Buddhas and doing lots of bowing and kneeling.  Meanwhile- there were snack venders scattered throughout the site, with the most popular item being long Chinese cucumbers (they’re longer and skinnier than the ones in America- sort of like the English cucumbers you can sometimes get) that’re peeled except for the last bit so you can use that for a handle.  We each got one and had a granola bar as well for lunch- yaaay heart healthy!  :P.  Which reminds me- we visited a similar snack stand next to the West Lake a couple of days ago and got steamed corn- which looks like regular corn but is chewy and rubbery like no corn I’ve ever had. There was no crunch to it whatsoever, and the texture was akin to biting into a #2 pencil eraser.  Anyway- we had cucumbers for lunch.  When we were templed and Buddha-ed out, we caught a taxi to the tea museum.  The museum was really several buildings scattered throughout a garden.  We walked through the one room that told the history of tea (apparently back in the Song dynasty.. maybe, I forget which dynasty, tea used to be served by grinding up the tea and mixing it with other things and pressing it into a brick, from which pieces were chipped off and whisked into hot water to make tea.  It wasn’t til way later in the game that some Emperor decided to give the tea-brick makers a break and declared that tea should be served as loose leaves).  Halfway through the room, who should appear but the Israeli girls!  They’re being led away by these two tea museum ladies, and they were about to go try different types of tea in one of the tea houses for free.  They invited us to come so of course we tagged along.  The girl who was serving us made quite a ceremony of it- there were different kinds of teapots for the different types of tea- she’d wash the clay teapots out with hot water before putting the tea in and discard the first infusion of certain teas because and do cool cup flipping things while serving.  We got to try green tea, oolong, jasmine, some sort of lychee flavored tea, annnd something else that I didn’t recognize.  Of course, after the tea tasting the girl ushered us out into the tea room where we were encouraged to buy (for such reasonable prices!) our favorite teas.  Annnnnd we ran away before they could badger us too much.  Now, while there are a ton of taxis going towards the tea museum/temple sort of area, there were almost none that were willing to take us back.  We probably walked for at least a mile or two before we were able to hail a taxi to take us all the way home- this took almost 2 hours.  Or something like that- it felt super long anyway.  After such a long day, we decided to celebrate by going to pizza hut for dinner!  Yea pizza hut dinner!  We just need something familiar and American for a change, especially after cucumber lunch.  The veggie pizza tasted fairly America, except that there was corn in it; the popcorn chicken flavor with barbecue something pieces tasted super Chinese.  Either way, pizza was good.  Then on the way home we stopped by the night market to investigate a bit- it was super crowded though so we skipped out and went home without really looking too hard.  On the way back, we had to pass by the old market street.  There this little Asian kid came up to us, clearly prompted by his mom who wanted him to take advantage of the Americans and practice his English.  It was really cute- he gave us his whole speech with things like “Hello!  How are you?  My name is ___, what is your name?  What brings you to China?  It was very nice to meet you!”  At the end of it, he shook everyone’s hand….except for mine until I extended it out expecting a handshake and then he very awkwardly and halfheartedly grazed my hand.  =sigh=

MONDAY, APRIL 11th

Today the day started off fairly unremarkably- we went to clinic in the morning, had some osrt of lunch and then went to lecture.  Except we got out of lecture a little bit early to get facial treatments!  The 5th floor of the hospital has an area that gives services like facials, eyebrow tweezing, stuff to make you pretty.  We all got a facial massage and then a mask that looked like ooblek going on and dried into this putty-like mask that you could peel off in almost one big chunk.  The lady told me that I did a bad job taking care of my face- she looked like she was going to yell at me when I told her that I just use soap on my face and then lotion.  I think I used the wrong word for soap- maybe it should’ve been ‘facial cleanser’ or something, but she made this face as if I had said I used Clorox wipes or pond water.   Ah well.  We all came out of there glowing and looking 10 years younger!  It was 80 yuans well spent.

Later that day I found a place that sells clothes and accessories and the like, metro station mall style with lots of different rooms that sell different things- all of which are bargainable.  It was already pretty late so I was just walking through quickly to see what there was, but I did find these amazing tights that were FLEECE-LINED!  Not that I really care about fleece-lined tights since I hate the warm, but since most of my friends are perpetually hypothermic I tend to get excited for them when there are things like fleece-lined tights to be had.

Finally, that evening I met the local Australian who apparently had been living down the hall for the last 10 days unbeknownst to me.  We ended up talking for many many hours about lots of things (shoes and ships and ceiling wax?).  I learned many interesting things about Australia, my favorites being: 1) There are only cane toads up in the north, not all over Australia, and our Australian man here plays cane toad golf with his friends fairly regularly.  2) You could see a kangaroo even just walking through a park, though not a kangaroo baby since the moms take them to go hide when they’re super small.  3)  There are hedgehogs in Australia that are the size of small dogs/a basketball.  4) The new trend in Australia is for men to wax off all their hair- chest, legs, arms, everything.  There is a pattern of waxing that they can ask for at the salon that’s called “Crack balls and back.”  This trend was once popular amongst only the gay population but is now also a thing amongst their straighter counterparts.

TUESDAY, APRIL 12th

Nothing remarkable on Tuesday, except that the Israeli girls and I discussed the Australian man and we can’t decide if he’s gay or not.  My bet is that he is bi.  Sara and I also went to get another massage because the muscle spasm in my neck was getting ridiculous.  They fixed it up, I could turn my head in both directions without wincing, and all was right in the world again.

Sidebar: for whatever reason, the Israeli girls are super boy crazy, and when the first group of Americans came (the Texas group), they were so excited about the prospect of having some hot American boys around.  Alas, much to their disappointment, the entire crew of 6 or so Texans came… and they were all girls.  Not only that, but these girls were China and shop crazy- they go everywhere with these gargantuam backpacks on that can be used not only as transportation for souvenirs in bulk, but also double as sleeping bags for some of the girls- they were that huge.  They’re also the brand of people who run on caffeine- speaking, walking, planning, everything is done at double speed, making it hard to keep up.  Needless to say, not the sort of Americans the Israeli girls were hoping for.  But!  There was still hope!  From their girl on the inside (Grace- she’s a student at the hospital we work at who’s also sort of our China-guide and go-to person for program stuff), they learned that four more Americans were coming, and this time there was guaranteed to be at least 1 boy!  Wahoo!  So all that week before our arrival, the girls wore random crap clothes in order to save their best jeans and shirts, and on the day they got all dolled-up and did their hair and make-up and donned the aforementioned saved best clothes.  And then ..dah-dahdah-daaaaah…. enter Hillary, Suzie, Sara and Janice!  Another hope crushed.  We did remember getting here and thinking ‘Damn- the Israeli girls here are super fancy pants… is the stuff we brought too casual for this program?’   Which we told them later when we were better friends, hopefully soothing some of the disappointment of us being girls and not boys.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13TH

Class as usual, nothing terribly exciting during the day.  But later that night I went out to a bar with the Israeli bunch!  They are a super fun group- they aren’t tourist and shopping crazy like the Texans, but like to explore the city, try new foods, go out, shop a little, and all in all are good people to have around during a trip.  They taught me how to play the dice game.  This is a popular game in most of the bars in China- it involves each player having a cup and 5 dice.  Everyone rolls their dice, and the you go around the circle and guess how many of one number you think there might be based on what you rolled.  You have to keep upping the person before you, so essentially you’re trying to bluff out the other people.  At any time, you can decide that someone’s lying and there’s no way that there’re 12 5’s on the table, and call their bluff.  Loser drinks.  A fun game, but kind of funny when you picture super fancypants-ed up girls and guys at fancypants bars rattling these little dice cups around rather than dancing or drinking.  I’m going to try to make it a thing in America- it’s a good game for drinking cuz it takes a while and involves no talking since everyone use finger signs for the numbers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 14TH

The last day of the Tea festival!

Sidebar- there was the same green sign all around the festival square that said something along the lines of “Hangzhou Tea Festival Somethingsomething 2011,” and each booth had the same sign hung in front of their table.  However- someone botched up the spelling on the sign, the signs instead read: “Hangzhou TRA Festival Somethingsomething 2011.”  That’s why it took us a while to figure out that it was  a tea festival.  And what a bad spelling mistake to make- not that the majority of people there knew or cared, but it was funny.  Anyway- the tra festival was closing!  I got some tea stuff (tea cup, loose-tea container), and visited the red bean cake man.  I’d gone there so many times during the festival- sometimes twice a day- that they remembered who I was and always greeted me super enthusiastically.  Being that this was the last day of the festival, they gave me lots and lots of extra red bean cakes, and thanked me very much for my patronage during the festival.  They also let me take a picture with them.  =D I ❤ the red bean cake people.   I also acquired a pillow that was filled with tiny dried leaf things- I’d been having trouble with my neck and thought that the gigantic fat pillow they have at the dorm might be exacerbating the situation (my pillow is normally super flat- I always take out half of the stuffing of any new pillow I get and re-stuff it to be at half-fatness), so I figured this was the perfect solution!  I could fill the pillow as much or as little as I wanted, and I would never have problems with the re-arranged cotton pillow guts becoming clumpy.  However- what I learned later after a night or two of trying leaf pillow was that while the pillow could become super flat, it was also then super hard.  It’s like sleeping on a rock that’s exactly the right pillow shape I want.  =sigh=

FRIDAY, APRIL 15

The girls went to Yellow Mountain this weekend.  It’s super scenic and is the place where movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon were filmed.  I thought about going with them- the view is supposed to be amazing and I like nature and hiking and stuff.  However, my family has traveled through much of Asia already, and we always hike up every mountain there is and see the temple at the top and there’s so much hiking and climbing and hiking and climbing.  So I decided, not this time!  No more mountains and stairs and temples!  I was going to have a relaxing weekend, and the girls could keep Yellow Mountain to themselves.  Also- to be honest, part of the reason I decided not to go was because the girls were already having some trouble adjusting to China life- the dirt, the food, the walking- and I was already whiny enough myself when it’s warm, let alone dealing with three other people who were going to undertake a dirty mountain hike.  So I dodged that bullet and skipped off to Shanghai instead.  I did a lot of laundry, and later that night got dinner with Kim and some of her friends from work.  It’s nice to see that she’s built up a solid group of people here- while odd and eccentric and sometimes yuckier than I generally like the people in my vicinity to be, they are a good bunch.  Also- there was something called dragon toast!  Dragon toast!  Yea!  It was mostly just bruschetta, but there was an awesome description about your fiery smoky dragon or something, so I had to get it.  Also had a lychee martini- it was pretty good, but the lychee part was not as good as I hoped it’d be.  We went to one of Kim’s friend’s apartment afterwards to hang out for a bit, and there I saw my first marijuana joint ever!  Ta-da!  Note- saw, not smoked.  It took me a second to realize what it was, which was then confirmed by the smell.  Yay for new experiences!  😛

SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH

Today I finished off a lot of laundry, and then went to the fabric market to pick up my coats and dress, all of which turned out really well.  Now I’ve got to hunt down some red shoes to go with it.  That took quite a while longer than I anticipated, and by the time I got back it was already dinner time.  Kim’s dad took me to a Thai restaurant where I had Fuh (spelling?) for the first time ever.  So good!  And I love that they give you random things to throw in on the side- it’s like do it yourself noodles.  We had a long talk about many things- our lives, medicine, philosophy… lots of stuff.  Kim’s dad likes to expound upon theoretical and the philosophy behind how people do in life- it was the kind of conversation where you feel like you’re trying not to step on the big fat stupid-comment land-mine, but you feel pretty good afterwards.   Kim came back a bit after this, and we hung out for while and then BOOKED THINGS FOR THAIILAND!  HORRAY!  What a good day.  Yea!

SUNDAY, APRIL 17TH

I hitched the fast train back to Hangzhou (I love that I can say things like ‘hitched the fast train’ here) and then had a devil of a time trying to get a taxi who would take me to my dorm.  Taxi drivers tend to want to avoid that area since it’s a site of many festivals and things, so is super trafficky but isn’t far enough away to make it worthwhile.  Also- a ton of people will walk around key areas like metro or train exits and offer their driving services to you… they just walk around waving their car keys and yelling out the places they would take you, or that they’re willing to take you anywhere.  Normally when the other girls are with me, I can easily pretend that I don’t speak any Chinese and ignore them without feeling too rude- but this time around it was a bit more difficult.  I finally called up Nicole (our other girl on the inside for the program) and got some directions- it turns out that the dorm is a walkable distance depending on how tired I was and how much luggage I had.  So, with my head held high and my ears deaf to the calls of the walking pretend taxi people (and also to everything on the right side, for that matter), I walked home with only a couple wrong turns along the way.  It took about half an hour and it was super hot and crowded that day, so by the time I got back to my room I was super tired and cranky.  Took a quick nap that was soon interrupted by a phone call from who else but Jing and Jim!  They were in Hangzhou for the day and wanted to see if I was around.  I was, and after much asking and walking much farther than I thought I’d have to (shoot me in the face at this point….. gah) we found each other (I FOOOUND YOU!).  We just caught up for a bit near the musical fountain on the lake, but then they had to leave to catch the train back to Shanghai.  It was about 530pm at this point, and when I got back to the dorm the girls still weren’t back from Yellow Mountain.  I was expecting them back around 2pm so I was a little concerned, but figured it was probably going to be ok.  They got back around 7, tired, cross, slightly underfed but full of Yellow Mountain glory!  It was also Sara’s birthday, so we went first to KFC for birthday dinner (they spent most of Yellow Mountain sifting through unfamiliar Chinese food- the kind that really needs some explaining – so they needed to recharge with something super American) and then we went to the little bakery and got this fantastic chocolate mousse cake.  Birthday party in the dorm!  Yay!  Except it was a birthday party with just us, Sha-sha our cleaning lady/dorm mother, and the guard downstairs since no one was back yet.

MONDAY, APRIL 18TH

I woke up feeling slightly ill this day- scratchy sore throat and fuzzy headed.  Didn’t do much else this day except chill and try to rest up.

TUESDAY, APRIL 19TH

Kim came to visit Hangzhou today!  Huzzah!  She got her while I was in my second class, so she walked around the lake and read at a coffee shop until I got out.  She had ordered a slice of cake at the coffee shop, which was called a cheesecake, looked like a cheesecake, and was served like a cheesecake, but there the resemblance stopped.  It was some sort of disgusting Styrofoam-y weird flavored Chinese cheesecake imposter.  Highly disappointing.  Anyway, we met up at her coffee spot and walked back to my dorm where we met up with her friend Cha-chi (also from Shanghai who came to hang out in Hangzhou for a day or two).  It was getting close to dinner time, so we milled around the night market and shopped and then got night market food!  Horray!  Food somehow tastes better when it’s served off a cart by the side of the road.  My girls went home after this, but Me, Kim, her two friends from Shanghai (another one joined us), and the Israeli boys went out to the Pirate Bar.  Or what should’ve been the Pirate Bar- Cha-chi went there the last time he was in Hangzhou and it was Pirate themed at that time, but when we got there it was sadly devoid of skulls, flags, parrots, hooks, or any other pirate paraphernalia, and was instead filled with the Beatles.  We wanted to make the scurvy cur Cha-chi walk the plank into the West Lake for his deception.  But despite its lack of buckles and swashes, there was a live band and an upstairs and also the dice game, and Cha-chi’s Hangzhou friend and his girlfriend came to hang out, and we had a jolly good time of it.  There was much drinking and talking and taking of Polaroid pictures, and when last call was announced (crazy!  The first bar I’ve been to in China that has a last call!) we weren’t ready to be done yet so we hopped a cab to the bar next to our dorm.  We ended up staying out until 530am, during which time we had many more beers, played a lot of dice, and learned a lot of Hebrew.  I can now say the following comfortably: cheers!, good morning, good evening, how are you, it’s cool, things are doing very well, honey (like a term of endearment, not like the bee by-product), what’s up girl, what’s up boy, and something that means ‘amazingly fantastically good!’ (like a response to ‘how’s it going?’) but literally translates to something along the lines of ‘bombs to your eyebrows!’ Apparently this last one isn’t said anymore except by small children and teenagers in a punk, slang sort of way, and when I said this to one of the girls the next day, the whole room of Israelis practically died laughing, and I am ashamed to admit that rather than staying to figure out what it meant right off the bat, I decided to scurry away in full scuttlebutt fashion.  Ah well.  Yay for new languages!

Ooh I almost forgot- in my excitement at one of the Israeli boys’ skills at making smoke rings (perfect rings!  Like you could poke a finger through it), I tried a cigarette.  Twice.  (two puffs, not two cigarettes).  Not only did I fail to make smoke rings, but the smoke burned like the fiery breath of a thousand angry dragons that just simultaneously got poked in their eyes, and I coughed and coughed and coughed and then wanted to die.  I don’t know how anybody starts smoking- you’d think the pain of it would be deterrent enough, let alone all the other stuff.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20TH

One shower and one hour of sleep after I got back to my dorm, it was time to wake up and go to clinic.  Unsurprisingly, I felt worse this morning and was full of congestion in my face.  I was also coughing and sounded kind of funny, but since my throat didn’t hurt I think it was pretty safe to say that this was due to my smoke-ring attempts.  Lucky for me, we had Chinese herb clinic today, and the doctor and his resident saw/heard me and were like “A-ha!  It’s Chinese herbs for you, my friend!”  =Sigh=  I was trying to avoid this, and thought about declining, but it somehow seemed like a rude move if I was here supposedly trying to get more experience and be open-minded about TCM, and here I had a perfectly legitimate excuse to test out some of their treatments.  So I let him write me out a prescription which I would pick up from the pharmacy the next day.  I had one of the doctors help me look up everything in my formula, and I was glad to find that none of them involved any sort of insect or animal parts- all planty flowery things.  Whew.

Met up with Kim after class and we biked around West Lake!  Not all of it, but a pretty good part of it.  It’s kind of scary because the path along West Lake is full of people and bikers, which aside from the dodging around people part is fine during the day, but is less fine when it gets dark and there are no street lights and the bikes also do not have lights.  And the paths are not two-ways so you could totally collide right into some biker or scooter-er or pedestrian.  But we just kept going until it seemed too dark to continue on safely, and then hitched a taxi to the night market for dinner.  Yay for night market food!  Afterwards we walked back to the dorm, and much to my shame and to the confusion of the other students but not to Kim because she knows, I got us lost a couple times on the way back.  Yes, I’ve been there before and walk back and forth from the area every day, but who am I! It’s those underground passages that cut underneath the main roads that confuse me- I always end up on the wrong side.  Ah well.

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