Yesterday, after the horrible and terrifying time warp lapse episode, I went to the bank to open my very own Chinese bank account. The school people had told me to go to a certain bank because they specificly deal with this bank. I clearly remembered them telling me, mouths moved and sounds came out, but I absolutely didn’t register what those sounds where or what they might have meant.
Around my neighbourhood are three banks and I just decided on the one that was closest by and looked like they had comfy chairs and good airco… After what seemed like hours of waiting, filling out forms and receiving all sorts of stamps (I’m really starting to like stamps, it feels like having an easy to keep collection) I had my bank account. Being very proud of myself for doing this all on my own at a place where hardly anyone spoke even a littlest bit of English, I called Osmond to rub it in his face.
In a high pitched voice of excitement I yelled in his ear that I had done it and that I must be truly awesome and brilliant! I felt really great and Osmond said that I’d done well which made me feel even better! Until he asked me at which bank I got my account…. It was the wrong bank, of course…
You might think that this event would teach me some kind of valuable lesson, but I’ll most likely forget about it before I can actually use the knowledge I gained…
The following day (Friday) I opened another account together with Osmond, this time at the right bank.
In the evening Andy came and I went to pick him up from the station, we hung around the house drinking rice wine.
On Saturday I went to a art supply store with some colleagues. I was picked up at school by the school van at 08.30 hrs. Normally it’s a thirty minute drive but there was severe traffic going into the centre.
I have mentioned the traffic before in other posts but it still amazes me enough to write about it again. A wide variety of cars populated the free way that day, from dented old vans to brand new American luxury cars (Buick being a favourite). On the free way there is a lot less honking of horns but more swerving from this to that lane, making the traffic jams worse since brakes have to be used very often to prevent hitting people who suddenly navigate their vehicle in front of others to switch lanes.
Finally arriving at the art supply shop Osmond, Micheal and Devon where already waiting for us (me and the driver/money man). The whole thing was a bit boring, but I did buy some things for myself, such as graphic markers (incredibly cheap!), pencils and a toolbox for all my art stuff.
After three hours we where finally ready and went back to school. I dropped off my stuff and picked up Andy to go to one of the “fake markets” with Micheal.
The “fake market” is a huge market situated in a big building where they sell fake stuff, from clothing and shoes, to watches and Ipods.
It is crowded and sales people call after you, telling you you definitely need new shoes, watches, shirts, what ever they sell, you need it and if you already have it you absolutely need more of it!
Where I once thought the MediaMarkt was hell on earth I found a place that is worse, it is not only hell but intertwined with it is purgatory and bargainers heaven. Everything is ridiculously priced (for Chinese standards that is) but very cheap if you know how to bargain.
On my first purchase, which was a pair of sandals, I got ripped off even though I tried to haggle. This gave me the worst feeling ever, not only because I paid too much for the sandals but mostly because I hate haggling in the first place! It makes me feel uncomfortable, self conscious and like a cheapskate even though it is expected that you haggle over everything.
After that I let the men handle the money what resulted in a fine Chanel watch for practically nothing! Next on my list will be an Ipod docking station and headphones.
Exiting the fake market was a relief, all the pulling, tucking and calling made me tired and to be honest quite anxious.
We went for something to eat, noodles of course, after which Michel took off to the hairdresser and we went looking for book stores and hair dye for me. We looked through several book stores but didn’t buy anything, books are amazingly expensive here (maybe that is why so many people are just sitting down in the shops and start reading their book there?).
On our way to the subway I found red hair dye, I was all excited and couldn’t wait to get home so I could get rid of the bland orange slash blonde that now was my hair.
What I didn’t take in mind is that Asian hair isn’t the same as my hair and that Asians probably had to take different things in mind when developing dye… Well, actually it did cross my mind, but I didn’t pay any attention when it did.
Coming home I almost immediately started busying myself with my hair while Andy worked on his lesson plans.
The package had pictures describing what to do and the girl had told me through pointing at my newly acquired watch that it had to sit for 30 minutes. “Easy!” I thought, how many times have I coloured my hair since I started more than thirteen years ago?
Still it was a bit different than I am used to, the dye was very fluid and came out as foam. I let it sit for the thirty minutes and rinsed it out, all hyped up with anticipation… Only to be disappointed finding out that the colour was very uneven and on the places where it actually changed my hair colour it had become a strange transparent purple (like the purple old women with perms have).
I tried to convince myself that I was happy with it, finally something different! I hated the colour and what I hated more was that I screwed it up, how did that happen?
For today there was noting to do about it though.
We went to the Bunt, and I temporarily forgot how I hated my hair. In the guide book we have states that if you’re going to the Bunt you definitely have to take the Tourist Sight Seeing Tunnel, which brings you from one side of the river to the other. The guide also stated that it was pretty lame, describing it as a “high-tech-low-tech-laser-haunted-house” themed ride, but nothing could have prepared us for this total and complete lameness! There are no words to describe how amazingly lame it was, they don’t exist, a new word has to be invented to explain this all time low (suggestions anyone?). And to make it even worse was the English translation from Chinese (think of random sentences like: “attack under salt water!” “Paradise and Hell!” “Meteor shower!”in an non excited male voice) and ultimately the fact that it wasn’t meant as a joke, someone seriously thought “Wow! This is going to be so very cool! I’m so proud of myself for designing this, I’m THE MAN!”
With a sigh of relief that our eyes didn’t bleed from their sockets we left the tunnel behind us, discovering that this side of the river is not much fun at all and that we would have to take a subway back.
After the tunnel of horror we where both in need of a beer, preferably an import beer since the Chinese beers may taste nice they hardly contain any alcohol. But getting anywhere could become difficult because it was getting late… We had to transfer to another metro line and once we got off everyone started running, and we ran with them figuring that the last subways where going and we where likely to miss it! All went fine, but I’m absolutely never ever running in this heat and humidity again! We ended up in an Irish pub where there was live music, pool and of course import beer. I could so use a Hertog Jan by now! Even Heiniken starts to taste good!
Already pretty much drunk after four beers we took a cab home.
Despite my best efforts I still hated my hair the next day and we went looking for a hairdresser. There are several of them around and I choose one that looked pretty fancy, hoping they would have the experience to deal with my “difficult” hair. With a dictionary in hand and some kind of role play from my side I made clear what I wanted: red hair that doesn’t look stupid or grandma like.
I picked a colour and one of the hairdressers started washing and combing my hair, al the while colleagues of him came by to examine my hair; touching it, feeling and looking at it up close, I felt like an alien from Mars in a government owned facility.
Finally the guy started putting in the dye, taking his sweet time (I always get so bored at the hairdresser). His colleagues kept coming by, checking my hair and how it began to change colour. I began to feel increasingly nervous as time went by, starting to realize this wasn’t going as it should at all. Before choosing my colour, it crossed my mind that red might not be a good choice given my recent experience with what was supposed to be red… Also my scalp began to burn and I was still bored… Finally the hairdresser decided it was time to rinse the dye out for what ever colour my hair was now, it wasn’t going to get better.
And yes, after the rinse I looked in the mirror and was confronted by a purple-pink Muppet that was me! I actually kind of liked it, but I’m a bit past pink or green rainbow colours in my hair.
We went home and I took my time sulking over my hair to eventually decide to colour it again, pff.
So we went out again, this time to the supermarket where I knew they had hair dye and to my pleasant surprise they had my brand! Not in red of course but they had very dark brown and purple black, I bought the latter.
We then went for a walk ending up at a spa where we got a massage. The massages here are quite cheap and often good. This time, although cheap, it wasn’t that good and this morning I woke up to an incredible pain in my back. I’m never going to that spa again!
Anyway, after the massage I dropped Andy off at the station where he took the bus to Jinshan. I returned home with a motorcycle taxi, excited again and hoping three times is actually a charm also applying to hair dye…
And it was! I kept some streaks of hair pink and the rest is a beautiful purple-black! From now on I’ll colour my hair myself and will only use my own brand (finally a lesson I will probably remember).
Now for the weather: it has been raining since Thursday! I thought it rained in Nederland, well the rain here is something else. It’s like a waterfall coming down on you umbrella. But I have to say that I’m quite happy with the rain, it cools the place down and changes the humidity.