The weather is getting hotter, and crucially, more humid. I think I’m 2 stone later today on account of all the water I’ve lost. Not good.
My trip to the gym this morning turned out to be very eventful. As I first arrived all the employees were conducting fire drills which, contrary to the rather tame affairs back in the UK, included: running (is that in the fire safety handbook?), whistles, fire extinguishers and the unravelling of several very large water hoses which spanned the length of the gym. This was repeated several times whilst I was there, until proceedings were interrupted by a car crash outside the window. It turned out that a taxi driver had ploughed into a e-bike (electric-powered moped); cue lots of people in the road, policeman and ambulance crews. This was the first crash I have witnessed since being in China, which considering the way they drive is absolutely staggering. From what I can make out the rule of the road is: anything goes. Traffic lights tend to be for guidance only, especially with moped and bicycle riders who can do as they please. Car drivers have to be a little more careful, but their caution just amounts to horn-honking and stopping at the occasional red-light. Scary stuff. I often wonder if I’m more safe as a pedestrian or not. Probably not.
After this little scene was broken up, the employees seemed to lose interest in practising fire drills (maybe they realised they would probably be in a traffic accident long before they had to deal with any real fire). So instead, a couple of them decided to come and stand really close to me whilst I was working out, which was slightly off-putting to say the least. I did manage to introduce myself and get them to tell me their names, but after this brief conversation communication was limited to their staring. Thankfully they lost interest after a while and I was able to continue stare-free.
Afterwards I took a trip to the bank to convince them to let me have the money I had in my account. Earlier in the week I discovered I had lost my debit card; which, although annoying, I presumed would be no big problem. Cue some inappropriate Chinese bureaucracy and a lot of form-filling. On visiting the bank the first time I was told all my money was safe and sound; “Phew” I said, “Can I make a withdrawal?”. “No”. I was told to report the following day with my passport, fill out more forms and then wait 24 hrs before I could have access to MY money. Maybe they were unsure of my identity (I’m one of about five foreigners who live in Huzhou) or needed the time to find the exact notes I had deposited. Whichever it was, I was eventually allowed to make a withdrawal today. Note to self – don’t annoy Chinse banks.
Feeling very tired now and in need of the three-day holiday coming up. Had a good moment with my last class of the day when they asked me to solve a quadratic equation. This is not part of my job description, but I dutifully obliged – to rapturous applause, and was quietly pleased with myself that I had remembered at least some maths from high-school.
Off to Shanghai this weekend so will update soon.