i was surprised to see xianglian on the bus this morning. she waved to me from the aisle. which normally she never does. i was already sitting next to zengfei, so she sat down next to her usual bus companion. i wasn't expecting her to leave so early (yesterday), but i also wasn't expecting her to be back so soon. she told me that she wasn't sure when she'd come back, so i figured it'd be at least a few days, if not more. but apparently nothing too bad happened when she took her mother to the hospital, so she managed to come back home on the same day. i chatted with zengfei on our way to work, asked her about any noteworthy injuries. when she was in high school she was learning how to ride a bicycle and ran into a ditch, dislocating her wrist. she's also taking next week off for vacation, returning to wanzhou, maybe (if i heard her correctly) look for a new job.

xianglian said she had a present for me and came over to my desk with a bag of shizhu potato chips. i too had presents for her but i wasn't expecting her to be back so soon so they were all at home. i did however give a box of ferrero rocher chocolates to older gentleman who sits diagonally across from me. my parents and i bumped into him and some other office coworkers the first night they arrived, and then yesterday he gave me a box of lanzhou goji berries to give to my parents as a present. so the chocolate was a thank you gift.

before lunch i asked xianglian if she was doing anything tonight and if not, we should get some dinner, then afterwards i can give her some presents. just so happens so had nothing to do tonight. somehow she thought i was cooking and when i joked that i can only make rice porridge or instant noodles, she seemed game to see what i can make.

i was actually pretty busy today, trying to issue a few more claims before i leave for vacation on sunday. the day went by fast but i was still sleepy on occasions, especially during brief lull in the work. i blame it all on my 1:00 bedtime, i just can't get to sleep any earlier these days. this will probably turn bad because i'm not going to get any rest next week when i'm on vacation, so the next few days are the only times i'll be able to log some sleep hours.

i thought the 7" tablet pc i ordered late last night would arrive today. when i talked to the delivery guy, he said he didn't have any packages for me, most likely tomorrow. i probably ordered too late last night, close to midnight. the normal cutoff for next day delivery is 11:00pm.

i called my parents around 5:00 to see where they were. they decided to leave shizhu and go to xitou instead (2 hour bus ride north), spending the night there so they can wake up early and see both the ancient city and the ganji which happens to fall on the 28th (tomorrow). the new hotel they found wasn't as posh as their shizhu place, but it was only RMB$100. it's kind of weird because now our roles our reversed. while i'm working, they're on vacation, and i'm the one who's calling to get daily updates of their adventures.

after work i took the bus with xianglian back into town. we went to the smaller supermarket where xianglian got some cold dishes to go with my rice porridge. i tried to pay but she wouldn't hear of it. originally i told her i needed a few minutes to clean up my apartment but she said she didn't mind so we braved it. the place isn't dirty as it is more cluttered.

xianglian tried some of the sichuan paocai we made together a few months ago, now on its 3rd or 4th fermentation cycle. she said it was very spicy, i told her my mother thought it was too sour. sour is good, because it took me more than a month of waiting for the paocai finally turn from bitter to sour.

not only did we eat the cold dishes xianglian bought, but she was also the one cooking the rice porridge. it was almost like she was doing all the work and paying for all the food, and all i did was to provide the venue. we ate around the kitchen island. she left around 8:20, needing to get back to her place to do some laundry.

the spent the of the evening playing around with the 28mm f/1.8 lens and backing up some photos onto the 2TB toshiba external drive. i also ordered a 58mm diameter lens hood for the 28mm lens; i've discovered it's prone to flares because the aperture can open so wide. i also bought a bathroom scale for around US$6; only in kilograms, but better than nothing and i'll have to leave it behind anyway when i leave, no sense in getting something expensive.