Literally one of the least interesting places I have ever been. It had little to offer and little of interest. I suppose I had some adventures with my cab driver though. He insisted on taking me out for a quick dinner before dropping me off at my hotel. And when I refused, he simply went to the restaurant anyway and ordered us food. He was about one standard deviation cuter than your average Chinese male, but I was still rather hesitant taking a meal with a strange dude I had just met. Absolutely beguiled by such service, I saved his number and promised to have him take me to the airport on my return flight.

Back to why I was in this frozen, wintry, underdeveloped dump of a Chinese city (I’m spoiled by Beijing, I know). We were doing a training camp for about 30 Chinese girls who were interested in going abroad to the States. They were a cute and friendly bunch, and we managed to get a lot of excitement and participation out of them. And I can’t say I did too bad for my first outing; I was subject to torturous hours posing for pictures with each recruit. Their English levels varied dramatically, from bad to worse, from mediocre to ridiculously excellent. I got to hone some of my non-existent acting skills — we did skits demonstrating several problem scenarios — which were very well received.

Would I come here again? Not if I were paying my own way. However, I am quite looking forward to my up-coming business trips. I’ll be in Guangzhou in late April doing a longer training camp for a bunch of foreigners, and in Qingdao in May for our quarterly meeting. Nonstop, nonstop!

Location: Changchun, China

A very busy week: I must be in my element

Things I have accomplished in the past seven days (since moving back to Beijing): moved into a lovely new apartment (complete with a small oven for my baking needs) with my two lovely roommates (Oriane and Chiara), started working (and by that, I mean really working, it’s been busy as hell), got myself assigned my very first business trip (to Changchun, a big city in the northeast of China, capital of Jilin province, known for its greenery and acceptably warm climate), and revisited all my old haunts. I’m a bit drained — I blame it on the poor air — but rather happy. I also started learning how to play go. A friend of mine dragged me into it, he’s 8k and is teaching me the ropes.

Also, over the weekend, I did 刮痧 (gua sha), which is a traditional Chinese medical technique. A board, usually made of the polished insides of bull horn, is used to scrape over acupressure points. The repeated friction causes the capillary bed beneath to bruise, and extracts the so-called ?. Apparently, when a person has too much heat in the body, due to dietary intake, high blood pressure, or even some viral infections, the sha comes out with little to no pressure. Your capillaries are just itching to bleed and let out some toxins. It was my first time, and I did it largely just to experience it. My back looks like I got roughed up by a band of raging buffalo, but I feel pretty great.

Location: Beijing, China