More crazy adventures:

The front of the bus is always hot.

The seats and center isle are all filled with people bouncing in unison with the bus as it bumps along the pothole-ridden side road to the next stop. The anxious bus driver harshly grinds the indigent transmission into 2nd and the gears grind – and growl like a half drunk/half hungover obese man does as he rolls out of bed after a night of far too much whiskey. And the heat? It hovers and hangs in the front of the bus, where you are trapped. An impenatrable barricade of bodies blocks the way to the back of the bus where not only the open windows lie, but also the AIR. The bus lurches to the left to avoid the taxi merging into your lane, and the taxi in the next lane lurches onto the shoulder of the sidewalk narrowly avoiding the old man on a bicycle riding next to him. You nearly fall to the ground but are able to grab onto the shoulder of a tall Chinese man and get your balance. Your foot accidentally slammed down on his in the commotion and he grimaces in pain to which you respond by looking at him surprised and putting up your hands so as to show that it wasn’t on purpose. You can’t apologize: you don’t know how to say the words in Chinese.

Your focus turns to the front of the bus where the bus driver stares intently through the murky and dusty windshield, focusing (as though with supernatural ability) on everything all at once. His pant legs and sleeves are rolled up and his hair a mess. Several trails of sweat pioneer their way down his face and suspend off his jawbone, threatening to jump. But don’t worry, it’s a familiar path. They know what their doing.

You suddenly become aware that you are also drenched in sweat and it is starting to seep through your shirt in splotchy dabs. Your sweaty palms continue to grasp the railing compensating for the slippery sweat by tightening. Your knuckles are white.

The bus jams its way into the mess of other busses jamming their way into the mess and pulls up at the stop. The harried bus driver flips several buttons, pops gear shifter (the scotch-taped in several places) into neutral and the doors stagger open. And you escape.

God bless public transport, eh?

I’ve been busy. My brother has since gone and I’ve spent the past week recovering from working a lot and entertaining, only teaching in the evenings. Simon and Kat are still in town so I’ve been doing stuff with them in the evenings and weekends. It’s really fun hanging out with people you know from other parts of your trip. You always have something to remember or talk about, which is something admittedly lacking from my travels, usually. People from time to time ask me if I miss not having someone with whom I can constantly do that with: travel and reminisce. My response is always the same: it would be nice, but there are tradoffs with such an arrangement, as with anything. When you travel with someone, you are 1) less likely to meet new people, 2) more likely to be annoyed on a regular basis by your companion, and 3) less likely to do what you want to do all the time. A big part of traveling with someone (as with any relationship) is compromise. Is it worth it? I think traveling alone is ideal. You meet people, travel for a while, split up, sometimes meet back up, sometimes don’t – but you always have memories. In my opinion, you collect more memories on your own that you would with someone else. You just do more.

* Some recent developments in the deodorant search *

In desperation, I eventually bought a deodorant type I didn’t want. It smells like wilted flowers and reads “caring for deodorizing with delication”. Sounds very reassuring. I had asked around. Apparently deodorant is a new thing, only about 1-2 years young in China. Imagine that. Some things never cease to amaze. Please keep in mind that people don’t smell here. But I finally found some. Actually, my buddy Simon found some and gave me the tip.

“The expat grocery store by your work has the exact type of deodorant you’re looking for.”

My eyes widened and I looked at my watch. I felt like running outside to my convertible patrol car, hopping into it without opening the door and flipping on the siren (as Dukes of Hazard music plays in the background – “hold up boiy! We’s gotts an old fasion police chase goin’ on HEA!”

But I settled for a taxi. I opened the door and sat inside (I did try to make it dramatic) and asked him if he knew where the store was. The odor of cheap Chinese beer filled the taxi cab and his head rolled as he pointed backwards and asked if that’s where it was. I looked at his half opened eyes and let the fact that he was sopping drunk settle into my brain. I got out, walked to the cab behind him, got in, pointed to the guy in front, made the patented “he’s been drinking” motion with my hand (you know the one: the imaginary beer can in your hand and several jerking motions up and down as your head does the same). The taxi driver nodded and we were off.

I soooo got my deodorant that day. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing it now. BOOYA!

I went out for dinner the other night with my students after class and enjoyed some incredible food at a really nice restaurant. Everyone took turns ordering something and the waitresses brought all the food to us on plates and sat them on the massive rotating table top. The outward border of the table doesn’t rotate so you get to keep your own plate and the nine of us all hacked away at the different dishes together. Everyone shares everything and it’s great. By the end of the meal, we were each out 20 yuan ($2.50) – and stuffed beyond belief.

Right now, I’m contending with a bit of a stomach bug. I woke up at about 2:00AM this morning with a 10/10 cringing and heaving in my stomach. It repeated every 10 seconds and lasted for about 10 seconds. Now its down to about 180/6, not a bad ratio. I’m on the road to recovery, I think. You’ve just gotta keep hydrated, eh – teaching class is going to be a blast this evening, let me tell you. Living and traveling in third world countries, you just need to keep one thing in mind: Where there’s blood, there’s danger. My bloodless misery is nothing to be concerned about. You just have to TAKE IT LIKE A MAN (you MAGGOT!). Sorry, that’s my imaginary drill sergeant motivating me to get ready for work. That’s my cue. Class starts soon and I’ve gotta run.

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