Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chinese moving in, building discoteques

In 24 hours, I will be in Beijing, probably in transit from train station to airport. In 48 hours, I will be in Bangkok.

The horrible, oppressive heat of summer has subsided. The rain no longer steams on the pavement, but collects in cold, muddy puddles. It's fall. A change of season, and the familiar taste of leaving on my tongue.

Last night I went to dinner and then clubbing with some friends. Chinese clubs are weird. People dance in one little spot, packed in like sardines, doing the same ridiculous hopping-and-head-twitching dance. The was a trampoline dance floor; it took a minute to get used to, but then I started really dancing. And for just a couple minutes, I was so glad so feel the bass reverberating through everything, to move and not care about anything else except moving. But then random Chinese men started trying to grope me, and it killed the mood, and I stopped.

New teachers are arriving now, still wide-eyed as they drag their overpacked suitcases through the mud on the unfinished driveway to the apartment building. I've been giving penny tours and survival tips to the newcomers, and this more than anything else has really made the passage of the last six months seem real. I've been here long enough to count as a veteran, and my survival Chinese is good enough to tell others to just get in the taxi and let me do all the talking.

For the past few days, I've had a lot of moments when I got ready to be sentimental about things -- my last day of work, the last time sitting in the teachers office talking about nothing, the last time loitering outside the McDonalds by my school drinking coffee and scowling at passerby, my last jaunt through the city square, the last time I'd see certain people -- then realized that I would not actually miss any of these things. Except the food. I will miss the food.

Next update will be from Thailand, where the Internet actually works. I have a feeling that it will take a lot of willpower to go sightsee instead of spending too much time online.

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