I had to buy everything from clothespins to household appliances. Most of my neighbors had lots of goods left over from their ex-experts. I was quite envious back then. There were many plates left in my kitchen but they were so ugly that I couldn’t stand to use them everyday. (I don’t think I am too fussy about plates but they were depressingly hideous.) So I bought some new plates, cutlery and mugs. I also bought a purified water-machine, a toaster, a CD player, a DVD player and a lamp. Even now, I keep buying things for my room, making a comfortable place to live. Shopping can be fun but it also can be time-consuming, demanding, and tiring. It requires a hard bargaining process here. It’s not easy for new comers to find the right place to buy things, so I have been spending a lot of time and energy on it since my arrival.
But this is not the end of this story. One of my friends said that everyday is a series of small but unexpected happenings. Here in China, more accurately, everyday is a series of unexpected inconveniences. For the starters, my DVD player was already broken when I opened the box. My CD player has broken. The ink cartridge of the printer has broken. My plastic bicycle handle bar grip was broken. The paint on the wall and ceiling of my room falls down little by little; the tap is getting looser every time I use it. The radiator up stairs broke and the water dripped down into my bed room. You have to keep handling these things everyday more or less, and things won’t easily get fixed or quickly be sorted. I know these things happen sometimes but here they happen quite often. You are always busy taking care of something. The repairs are far from perfect and people don’t care much about their jobs. Therefore I am easily made very happy and grateful in China when I have a day without broken stuff. Life is good, but definitely busy with small but unexpected happenings.
苺の季節である。これは大粒なので500グラム6.5元。どんぶり一杯（約830グラム）で10.8元（約162円）。洗って、スプーンで適当につぶして、ミルクかヨーグルト、それにハチミツをかけて食べる。美味しくて、幸せな気持ちになる。近頃は毎日食べているので、毎日幸せである。（因みに、中国語では「草苺」と書き、cao mei と発音します。）
バンコクから東へ約300km、カンボジアに近いトラート沖にKoh Changという島がある。バンコクからバスとフェリーで移動。島にはいくつかビーチがあるが、私が目指したのはKai Bae Beach。最も賑やかなWhite Sand Beachとバックパッカーが集中するLonely Beachの間にある、こじんまりとした静かなビーチである。私はK.B Resortのバンガロー（sea view air con villa）に泊まったが、ここは特にオススメ。http://www.kbresort.com/ 外観は質素だが、室内はモダンでファシリティも上々、リネンやシーツは真っ白、大きなガラスのドアはよく磨かれている。目の前がすぐビーチ。敷地内もきれいに整えられていて、落ち着いた雰囲気。
At the end of my holiday, I dropped by Thailand again. I chose the small quiet beach in Koh Chang, one of the islands near Cambodia. I stayed in a lovely bungalow and did nothing but chill out for a couple of days. It was quite nice especially after the strenuous trek in Nepal. Beaches in Thailand are always wonderful except for one thing. There are many couples, “sugar daddies” (foreign guys, most of them old and ugly) and young Thai girls. It’s none of my business but just feel sad to see them everywhere. However I’ve got sympathy for Thai girls because people there regarded me as one of them and often gave me critical looks. I almost wore a T-shirt that said “I am neither a Thai nor a girl. I’m an independent working woman, okay?”(If someone sold that T-shirt, I might really buy and wear it.) All right, that’s it. The holiday was over and I got back to Nanjing. There is no money left in my bank account as I spent it all on the trip but I’ve got a lot of happy memories instead. Surely now is the time for working!
Actually, it was a lovely day. It was very quiet because of the snow. The scenery was more beautiful with the snow. I bought a new book to read (Louis Bernieres / Birds Without Wings) and spent most of the time with someone in our group. There was no heater in the room, so we snuggled under a sleeping bag and sipped warm milk tea sometimes. From the window we could see snowy skies, mountains, trees and branches. It was a really calm and peaceful sight. Somehow that reminded me of “a white Christmas”. However, it was St.Valentain’s day. So he took care of me for a whole day and made me feel very happy. He fed me chocolates, sweet oranges, chips and read me a book. He went down to the restaurant to order our lunch, (Ordering meals 2 hours in advance was our daily routine at every tea house because they needed a lot of time to prepare for that.) and even bought me a dinner. Unexpectedly I had a wonderful St.Valentain’s day there. How lucky I was! Okay, here is my confession; I didn’t tell him that girls are supposed to give chocolates to boys at St.Valentain’s day in Japan!
Indra(Our guide) got a one month puppy on the trek for his daughter. Girls always deserve to get something nice, don’t you agree?
After the wonderful diving in Thailand, I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal. There are the great Himalayas. As some of you may know, I am very fond of trekking. Probably because I’ve been living in large cities in either China or Japan, I miss nature. Life in the city is easy and I like it, but once in a while I crave being in a natural environment. I had previously hiked the Everest B.C trek route about 2 years ago and it was awesome. I decided to hike the Annapurna Circuit this time, which was one of treks that I really have wanted to do for a long time.
The trek began from Besisahar which is the east village of the Annapurna area and we hiked around counter-clock wise for almost three weeks. We stayed in tea houses where we could get food/bed and we had porters carry most of our luggage for us. Therefore, we needed we hiked roughly 6-7 hours walking a day including a plenty of ascents and descents. We also needed proper acclimatization for high altitude; otherwise; we might have gotten altitude sickness and we would not have been able to complete our trek. So we slowly hiked up to higher places; Bulbule (840m), Bahun Dada (1310m), Chamje (1430m), Bagarchap (2160m), Chame (2670m), Pisang (3185m), Manang (3540m), Yak Kharta (4018m), Thorung Phedi (4450m). From there, we reached the highest point of our trek, Thorung Pass (5416m). We did it only by 4h15min, which means it’s quite a good hiking pace. I can say that everybody in our group had good fitness and stamina. We all made it!
Throughout the Annapurna Circuit trek, you can enjoy different scenery everyday. This was a beauty of this trek. There were always the spectacular views of the Annapurna and Manaslu mountain ranges. We enjoyed looking the various mountains from Annapurna I(8091m) to the rugged local mountains which they call just a “hill”. We walked by deep valleys, waterfalls, lakes, forests, gorges, rocks and so on. We saw many goats, cows, buffalos, Yaks, donkeys, blue sheep, etc. As important as the scenery was, we also met many friendly locals and saw their basic but unique cultural life on terraced farmlands and grassy pastures. We also visited their remote monasteries and saw their interesting customs and traditions. Weather also varied; sunny, cloudy, rain, snow, hails and there were extreme variations in temperatures, too. I walked with my sleeveless tops at the beginning but day by day added more layers and by the time we reached Thorung Pass I was freezing even with my thick down jacket. So I can say we experienced pretty much everything we expected there.
彼はスイスの高い生活水準の暮らしも見ているが、ネパールが好きで、スイスで暮らしたいとは思わないという。スイスの2ヶ月間の給料でネパールでは1年家族で暮らせるのであくせくしない。彼に限らず、人々はのんびりとしていて、家族や友だち、同僚とおしゃべりしながら日がな一日、時を送る。ネパールは農業国なので深刻な飢えはなく、ただ現代的なモノが非常に少ないだけで、家族やコミュニティが今も力強く生きている社会だ。彼はたぶん多くの日本人よりはるかにＱＯＬ（quality of life）の高い生活を送っている。翌日の昼食は彼の自宅で家庭料理をご馳走になったが、彼の様子はまさに“満たされている”という感じだった。
When I returned from the winter holiday, I noticed many new changes here. First, there now is a branch of Bank of China open at the subway station building, next, some new shops around here, too. How fast the city, or should I say China, is changing! I mentioned it before, they don’t rest even at night. I was also amazed by the number of people. Being away from China for a few weeks really made me feel overwhelmed when I came back and saw Nanjing again. There are people everywhere－day and night. When I was away from Nanjng in this winter break, where I was? Good question.
First of all, I visited Thailand and went diving. It was a good season in Andaman Sea and the Similan and Surin islands were well known for some of the best diving in the world. So, I flew to Phuket and got on the MV Colona VI for 4day/4nights cruise. There are nine granite islands in Similan but some of them are closed for conservation but still you can enjoy many great places to see coral gardens, a variety of fish and many sea animals. In Sirin there are the famous Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai which all are great dives especially for Manta Ray. Under the water, it’s just beautiful there. God has a great artistic talent to create nature. I am always stunned by its beauty. Every dive was amazing but one of our high lights was the dive in Koh Bon and seeing Mantas for the entire time. Here is a photo from Claudio who is one of the owners of this boat.