I should have perhaps realised this when my boss arrived at my apartment on Saturday night with a four foot high tall halogen heater for me, with the instructions – again – not to worry about using that or the AC unit.  It’s amazing what a difference a week can make – I’ve still got suntan marks from where last Monday I was sitting in blazing sunshine on the balcony.  Tonight it’s almost freezing, absolutely pouring it down and it’s dark by 6pm now.

From tomorrow it’s supposed to be down to freezing but then rise up again towards the end of the week.  With the darkness and the cold comes the isolation, of knowing that the next time you can get to Starbucks, or actually have a conversation in English, is going to be probably February.  After last week’s shopping encounter I’m loathe to brave out on my own again, so next week one of the Chinese English-speaking teachers and I are going to go and get my electric blanket and a massive thick duvet.

The onset of winter of course brings out the bugs and colds……..I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with me, but it’s time to visit the school’s doctor.  I had my cooked chicken Thursday and Friday, felt a bit funny on Friday, Saturday morning I literally heaved up for about 3 hours everything I think I’ve possibly eaten.  I slept on and off Saturday and Sunday, I was in bed by 8pm last night again, trying to ignore the fact that the water in the apartment (block) had gone off about 2pm yesterday.  A text to my boss this morning confirmed the whole area was off because the water board were doing repair work (or something!) so I had to venture to my 11am class not having showered for a couple of days – lovely, washing in a bowl in the bathroom didn’t really cut it, thank goodness for the mega supply of deodrant I bought in Xi’an.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a bottle of water to the class, and half an hour into it I thought I was going to pass out, even the students could see I was dizzy and shaky.  Thankfully this is my good week for teaching, meaning the students are the top end of the English-speaking classes, so I was able to explain to them that I needed air and left a few minutes early.  I went to the canteen, always a dodgy move at the best of times, and managed to eat some rice and vegetables and felt a bit better.  I must have looked really rough though as the two Chinese teachers I was eating with both commented that I need to see the doctor.

This afternoon I went out to the local shops to stock up on fruit and water, and when I came back and tried the taps the water was back on – I’ve no idea whether I should have done this, but jumped straight into the shower 🙂  I felt a bit better after it, but I’m still horribly tired and it’s only 7.30.  I am trying to eat properly but the list of things I can find to eat is diminishing every week – it’s almost impossible to find any sort of meat to cook, apart from my cooked chicken and I think I’ll stay away from that for a while.  But this isn’t like a big city where you can eat out, in the tiny little restaurants around here there are no menus, and there is also no one for me to eat with.  The dumplings I bought are so horrendously greasy even when boiled I can’t eat them, I don’t have a grill or oven, only two gas rings, so I can boil things like potatoes or vegetables.  I can’t find anything that resembles mince or pork to even stir fry, let alone find any kind of sauce to stir fry things in.

So it will be veggies only for a while I think.  I noticed again today however that things are expensive now, a small bag of assorted things like apples and grapes was £4, almost on a par with Scotland, so my dad again is right in that it’s costly to ship things up here.  I’m slightly worried though that I’m not getting enough of a varied diet, there’s a limit to how much rice you can eat but I’ve got my little French bread things, eggs and yogurts (as long as I brave the supermarket once a week!)

So I’m alone, but not lonely if that makes sense, although I do crave a bit just being able to speak to someone about how I feel, rather than  typing it out in this blog.  I’ve got hundreds of books to read on my kindle and ipad, as long as I never lose my internet connection there is always facebook and tons of history stuff to read up on, and I must be one of the most informed people now as to what’s going on in the world thanks to the BBC!   I just have a feeling that it’s going to be like hibernation now for the next three months, classes and then straight back to the apartment to keep warm and quite possibly at weekends not even bothering to get dressed at all – more to keep warm than anything!

Tomorrow is the final of the English speaking competition for the students….I know this only because one of the Chinese English speaking teachers casually slipped something about it into the conversation at lunchtime…..communication is not terribly important it seems.  Tony came in earlier to transfer the new laptop into English (I really do not know what I would do without him at times!) and apparently we have to make some sort of 2-3 minute speech – what about he didn’t know either but come 3pm I’m hoping that someone will tell me what to do or say.  Thankfully the notion that I would sing has never been mentioned again, it’s going to be tough enough speaking (a) with my permanently sore throat and (b) in front of however many hundreds/thousands of people are attending this competition (and inevitably this being China, videoed from all angles!)