IN THIS EPISODE | Sean can't get the shower to work | Sean goes to school | Sean goes to the seaside | Buddha gets cold
It snowed last night - that's how cold it is here! Couple with that with no central heating and I'm sure you feel my pain. Nevertheless, the views from my apartment were quite nice and I saw more people outside this morning than usual so my Mei Xing Hua Yuan neighbours obviously can't get enough of the snow.
I took a walk today. The only time I've been to the university is in a taxi so I checked Google Maps to make sure I knew where I was going. From my apartment complex I made a right and walked 2.5km to get to the university. I went past Auke Coffee and Bar, a karaoke bar called Cashbox and another university. I will let you know how I get on when I try Auke Coffee and the karaoke!
Having found a panda, my next mission is to find somewhere local to play pool. Can't let a few months abroad get in the way of my practice regime. Especially if it means I may get beaten by E on my return! I'm hoping that bar place has one, otherwise I'm building one.
When I got to the university the first thing I noticed was that the sign outside says Liaoning Trade and Finance College! Bloody Americans. All I need's a bucket of red paint and I'll get that fixed sharpish.
The "playground" is absolutely massive; I imagine on Monday once the 6 000 students have arrived, it'll be a little busier. There's student accommodation to the left, in very dull and perfunctory buildings; to the right was a sea shell; and straight ahead was the main teaching building. There are tennis, basketball and volleyball courts to the right of this main building and a what looks to be a make-shift football pitch to the left. There's a great view of the mountain too over what looks like it'd be a really nice looking stream in the spring/summer. Minus the tacky heron statues.
From there I took about a 15 minute walk down towards the beach! There was a barrier there and a ticket office to one side so employing my foreigner-that-knows-no-better look I went straight through and wasn't bothered. The sea was a refreshing change from the rest of the city and town. All of the beach was covered in big chunks of ice and looked really dramatic. I walked along the seafront for a fair while and found a big Buddha with a coat on because even he was cold! He's a top bloke that Buddha guy. I like him.
On the way back I took a road parallel to the road I live on and walked for 4km towards downtown Xing Cheng. Down that way was a host of state grid plants and, finally, a swimming pool. It's a tad far away from where I live. God I miss my car. I took a road north then and passed a few places offering natural hot spa baths. The road I chose got more narrow as I carried on walking and after some time I started passing livestock. (I don't mean actually passing them out, I mean walking past them.) I made it back to my road just in time for the local primary school to be dismissed so I had plenty of chances to say hello to people that knew as much of my language as I know of theirs!
When I got back to the flat the key hole in the door wasn't straight like I'd left it. Someone had been in. When I went in everything seemed OK and all my stuff was untouched but the landlord had been in. My landlord is like a really crap bailiff: since she's been in once, she keeps coming back and bringing things. I now have a soap holder and a bathroom bin.
Incidentally, when I was moving my curtains yesterday I saw my octogenarian neighbour and she doesn't half love to wave. I'm going to find some blu-tac and leave her a sign in my window.
IN THE NEXT EPISODE | Sean fixes the shower | Sean plans his first week of lessons | Sean writes letters home