Well... it's done. I'm officially out of Tangshan. It's a bittersweet sensation. I had something of a panic attack yesterday morning as I stood my luggage up, ready to go. Like butterflies-swarming-my-chest vertigo. As I was saying to Angie, I'm happy to be leaving and at the same time I feel as if I ought to feel bad about going. However, I can't have both. Not until I create my Chinada machine, anyway. Wooops! I've said too much...
I didn't hook up with the girls on Sunday night, as they got back late from Qinhuangdao. We had lunch instead Monday. It was a great time. I gave them silk hand-bags I bought in Suzhou, and they did something really sweet for me: they put into a glass brick the picture of me flexing with all the assistants. It was fantastic! (too bad it weighs more than my head)
As the picture above shows, they let their hair down and had some beer with me. Lots of toasts, with a few sad and pensive awkward silences after some of them. Food was excellent, as per usual at Feng Huang Yuan, though the service was rather shit. There was a wedding downstairs, so we all got to talking about dating and relationships and marriage (a lot of comparing Canada vs China), with lots of funny anecdotes told. At the end, there were no tears, thankfully, but leaving was tough.
I had a chance to give Lily the card for Xiang Guo Yuan, my tai ji quan master. Oh, I guess I didn't say anything about visiting them. I went on... Saturday night. No one was doing tai ji quan outside, but Song laoshi was inside with a few others. I spoke to him, told him it was my last day (well, as per the plan at that time), gave him the baguo necklaces I'd bought on Wudang Shan. They have my email address, and I have theirs. Anyway, I spoke with Song laoshi outside, and asked if he and Xiang laoshi still wanted to learn English. I said that Lily was an excellent teacher, and was Chinese (they had some concerns initially when they had approached me about it re: learning without any first-language being used). So I hope she calls them and gets work with them. I think she'd have fun with that. And it was no exaggeration. She is a great teacher.
Anyway, so everyone went their separate ways back home. Seriously. Everyone took a different cardinal direction. I walked with Betty a ways and saw her off at her bus. It was a bit of a lonely walk home, I have to say. Things just felt so... finished.
Getting back, I finally saw Alistair. We hung out a bit, then went for beers with Jeff (Aussie teacher who has my HF-S, HF-1A and EF 5 classes), Ethan (the new marketing manager - no English), and Jessie and Angie. I spent a chunk of time translating for Jeff and Ethan, which was neat. I always forget how much Chinese I know, or rather how far I can flex the Chinese that I know. 27 beers later, we headed home.
Finished packing yesterday morning, and arrived with no issues in Beijing around 15:00. I'm in at Lili's "office" (again I say WOW). Wireless, coffee, enclosed shower (!!!)... I think I'm set. Alistair is going to come in today, I think, possibly with Norhaine, and we'll hit the Great Wall tomorrow.
Went out for Thai food last night with Lili, and had a few drinks. That was Lili's drink (left)! Zany. Today, the plan is to hit Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven), wander some hutongs near Qian Men Dajie, book the Great Wall tour, and this evening meet up with Ema for supper. If Alistair makes it in, then it'll be the three (or four, with Norhaine) of us. No idea about that, though. Haven't heard back from him as to what his plan is. I'll meet him at 17:00 anyway at the spot we pre-planned.
Okay, I should head off. Time to do a bit of the tourist thing, and sort out some last-minute details and such. So today's a busy-ish day, as tomorrow will be. Aw well... I'd wanted some quiet time, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Will have more pictures to upload tonight, hopefully from Tian Tan as well as from supper/drinks.