It’s been a quiet few days – literally, I’ve not left the apartment since I returned from shopping on Saturday and it’s now Tuesday night (I have showered and got dressed every day!).  Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with everything that goes on, from the random pawing and photographs at the supermarket, to the constantly asking classes to be quiet, so I’ve read, literally for hours and hours, caught up with random news stories and just relaxed. 

The good news (apart from the soup I made on Monday, amazing leek & potato with some rice thrown in – must not make such a massive pot next time, four meals down and I can still have lunch and supper from it tomorrow!) is that I have four days off after classes tomorrow.  My FAO Mark came round last night – with the missing winter clothing from Hong Kong brilliant fleecy tops, but the coat just isn’t warm enough for minus 20 despite being fur lined) and the happy news, and I think he was a little surprised when straight away I said I would head down to Xi’an.  It is a little extravagant, a hostel for three nights and the 12 hour return bus journey, but winter is setting in and it’s starting to get REALLLLLLLY cold now – I was excited to see at about 11am this morning the temperature thing on my ipad pinged that it was above zero! 

So Xi’an – I’ll head down early Thursday morning – if I was more organised I would go tomorrow afternoon as my classes finish at 11.40 but I’ve no idea of the bus timetable and I can spend the afternoon doing my new lesson plan for next week and get a bus about 8am on Thursday.  No public holiday this time, so it should only take the normal six hours.  As long as I am organised this time and make sure I have the right bus station written down for coming back on Sunday!

I don’t actually need anything – although it never hurts to check out Walmart and there is a sort of market place I remember near the Drum Tower that was selling Goretex/thick ski type jackets last time so if they’re a reasonable price I might buy one.  It’s more the fact of being away from here – the apartment is right opposite the school and I literally cannot go to get so much as a bottle of pepsi without banging into my students.  In Xi’an I can sit and have a coffee, walk about, and not be stared at.  And I work on the theory that I should take the opportunity to get away from here as often as I can, because who knows when I might get another 3/4 days off – I still can’t work out why I have Thursday and Friday off, but I’m not going to ask any questions!

It’s also, having checked today, ten degrees warmer in Xi’an than it is here.  Once the sun comes round onto the balcony at about 9.30 it’s not too cold, or at least at the back of the apartment where the bedroom and balcony are.  By 3.30 now when the sun goes down even the bedroom is freezing, and because the living room and kitchen face the front and don’t get any sun at all, they are permanently freezing now.  Even with a t-shirt/fleecy lined jumper/massive cardigan and body warmer on today, by 5pm I had to go and have a shower to warm up – which then has the effect of drying out your skin, so I’m going through a ton of moisturiser.  As the kitchen doesn’t have any hot water it’s not fun trying to wash any dishes, so again my hands get very cold and dry. 

This is only minus 2……another twenty degrees to go – below!

I’ve not got about 10 fleecy tops, a body warmer and a furry coat and the infamous furry leggings to see me through the next few months.  My dad asked me what I was going to do with this stuff when I come back – the honest answer is that the chances are most of the clothes will be wrecked – my washing machine has one setting – go – and it’s already mangled up two cardigans, a t shirt and a pair of trousers.  I’m not sure whether it’s the quality of the clothing or the actual washing machine, but it’s a bit worrying that with 9 months to go I’m running out of what I’d classed as summer clothing.  However I’m figuring for the next 4/5 months I’m going to be standing teaching in a hat/gloves and goodness knows how many layers!

The electric blanket is a godsend, truly.  The worse part is going for a shower, the psyching yourself up to take off your jammies and then running across the white tiled and very cold floor to the even colder bathroom.  I’m going to have to start using the AC unit in the morning, but I’m still worried about the heating costs as if I’m struggling now what is it going to be like in January 😦 

So an hour and a half to teach tomorrow morning and then off to the land of Starbucks 🙂  One final thing to do is to try and put some credit into the Chinese mobile – last time a Chinese English teacher did it for me, and I don’t want to end up like the last time in Xi’an with no credit getting texts from people asking where I was – I never did work out who texted me saying did i want to meet up for dinner – it wasn’t a saved mobile number so not someone that knows me – I could have missed out on a nice dinner!