It shows me one photo, and then stops. The whole system hangs up. My photos are gone. There's not on the computer; they're not on the card when I put it back in the camera. They're just gone. 600 pictures, oh well! I could cry.
One of my friend Lai Sheng's fellow graduate students picks me up at the hotel to take me to his apartment, where I can leave my luggage for the day's explorations. My flight is at midnight, dinner with Lai Sheng and his family at 6. I've got the rest of the day to go back to the fabulously decorated Chen museum with my camera, and time to follow up on a lead on a shop selling books in english, in the hopes of coming away with a photo book of the city or the region.
First thing: Miss Yuan has only been to Lai Sheng's once, and is not at all sure how to get back there. She phones him three times on our way, and we finally do arrive to the beaming smiles of his mother and the contented cooing of his baby son. Such a fat-cheeked baby! Suddenly I realize that I've left my gorgeous painting at the hotel. The box with the scroll is too long formy luggage, and somehow I didn't notice not having everything when I left. So I have to go back for it, and Miss Yuan has to go back to work. Will I be able to find my way back to the apartment on my own?
I have his phone number, and take careful notes on my way back to the metro station. His alley is the one with the big key sign on the main road. There's a guy with a sewing machine halfway down it. Turn right up the road, past the electric company, past the Happy Springtime Hotel, to the T intersection by the shiny new womens hospital. Right again down the hill to the metro. Easy as pie.
Get my painting, drop it off with the grandmother who only speaks the local language, and out into the fairly sunny day.
All this running around has worn me out. At the Chen place I marvel at the decoration through my zoom lens and spend quite a lot of time just hanging around. I had thought to go around the city, taking new photos of everything I liked so much - the Liurong Temple, People playing hackysack in the park, the view of the city from the top of a hill.
But I don't have much heart for it. I walk back to the temple, which isn't far from the Chen museum if you don't get lost, and spend some time there, enjoying the real quiet now that it's mid-week and most people are at work. I feel much more out of place this time, with the grounds not bursting with people everywhere.
After that, I just want to find the bookstore and be done with it all. And I find it, but they don't have any books full of photos at all, at least none with captions in anything but Chinese. The English language section targets Chinese people working on their English - lots of pulp fiction and language books. There is a small section with travel guides, but they're all for Beijing or Shanghai. I buy a book by a european guy who spent two years travelling around the country quite recently. To compare notes.
Back to the apartment they're laying on a grand buffet for me, and I'm famished. It's wonderful, simple, food. Just never mind the seaweed soup.
|Li family chicken|
Lai Sheng heard from Miss Yuan about my photograph disaster, and we spend an hour recovering my pictures. They're in there. The card seems to have picked up a virus (where??), but he gets almost everything back for me. I'm so happy!
Off to the airport on the metro. It takes a while, but we get there. Once airside I have an hour to kill, and a last fistfull of yuan to get rid of, so I spend most of the time wandering around the gift shops, amazed at the prices as much as 10 times what you'd pay elsewhere. And then, what's this? A simple t-shirt with a great dragon printed on it, just my size, and just right to empty my pockets of yuan. Deal!
|The view from the window|