Well, I think I’m finally settling into my groove. It’s difficult to get to know a city when it’s generally too cold out to do much exploring – but now with three weeks in country, I have a pretty basic, but solid, understanding of where things are, how to get to and from (a) AND (b), where to get cheap beer (AND how to ask for it), and – of course – some good restaurants.

The Newbie-Teacher Crew all met up again last night for our now weekly gathering. Somehow I managed to convince them all to brave the taxi-ride and come out to Jinzhou.

There is one restaurant I go to frequently, due mostly because it’s close by and I’ve gotten to know the staff a bit, but also because the food is generally quite good. The one waitress speaks a small amount of English and is always eager to serve me to give it a bit of practice. Last night I think I nearly gave her a heart attack when I entered, with 7 other lao wai in tow.

We did dinner then in an equally interesting exchange, we went to my local beer guy and made his day when we took a case of Tsingtao off his hands. With promises that we’d switch off carrying the 24 large bottles up the 7 flights of stairs to my apartment, we headed upstairs to get a bit liquored (it should be said, Brian and Alan took the case the whole way…).

After clearing through the beer we headed down to a place I had heard about called HOT. It is a nightclub about 10 minutes walk away and was by and by quite cool. We showed the locals that they’re not the only ones that don’t know how to dance (man… aside from the showgirl-like chick in the tube-top, those kids didn’t have a clue what a beat was – and I think the tube-top girl was likely paid to be there… and really scored most her points for just being damn sexy).

Today I slowly woke up, eagerly anticipating the fact that I had been invited to Serena’s (one of my Chinese teachers/teacher assistants) houses to have lunch with her and her mother. Serena is an artist in the art program at one of Dalian’s universities. She showed me photos of her work and DAMN. She’s awesome. She also showed me photos of the warmer side of Dalian … as all I’ve seen so far is people bundled in big jackets… but from her photos of the area, I am quite keen on it getting warmer out – there are some amazing places around here, including the largest aquarium in Asia.

Lunch was, in traditional Chinese fashion, dangerously filling. We had delicious dumplings and all sorts of other food. I had been warned about Chinese hospitality, and tried to eat as slowly as possible, but eventually I had to risk offence and state that I couldn’t possibly eat another thing.

Serena and her mom.

Serena and I (leaning quite a bit, what’s with that?).

We then watched A World Without Thieves – a quite entertaining Chinese film. It was on VCD, so reading the subtitles was a bit of a challenge – but it was good none the less.

Oh, speaking of Chinese movies… I watched Shi mian mai fu, or “House Of The Flying Daggers”, the other day, and loved it. For those that don’t know, it is the latest movie by Zhang Yimou, the guy that directed Hero. I have to admit, some of my liking of the movie may have to do with the fact that I’m absolutely in love with Zhang Ziyi (she was in Hero, and most notably in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Alright, I think Tom’s nearly done watching the Australian open. I’ve tried quite unsuccessfully to get into tennis, but I just can’t do it. So, time to make some noodles and see if I can’t get through the better part of my new Aviator DVD… have I mentioned DVDs here are only $1 to buy… it’s hard to not just go buy a bunch of DVDs every other day… so hard in fact, that that is exactly what I do.

Oh, did anyone notice that there was a comment in the last post from a certain person from my past – quite cool. I’d like it to be noted that a girl that has (on more than one occasion) stated that she would never talk to me again has now officially had more contact with me since I left Canada than some of my best friends… hint hint.

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