JISHOU, HUNAN — My webhost just upgraded many of its customers to a new superduper server over the weekend. Somehow, my site got lost in the shuffle, but now we’re back!
Predictably, the outage happened while I was out of town and for the most part away from the World Wide Web. So, I had no idea anything was wrong until my buddy notified me by email. I sent a message to Planet Earth Hosting, and 24 hours later, the site was up, good as new.
The occasion for my trip out of town was the big car show in Changsha. Two of my former students were going — one to shop and one to wish — and asked me to join them.
So, Saturday morning I took the coach to Changsha. Also on board was a postgrad friend of mine and her friend. They were going to Changsha to shop and (for one of them) to sit for a qualifications exam. To my delight, the bus company has changed its normal stop — next to a swanky hotel — to a place practically next door to my usual — non-swanky — hotel. It makes catching the return bus a breeze now.
That Saturday, I shopping for some wee Christmas gifties with Tina, one of my former students from Jishou U. Her boyfriend was busy at work, and she was bored, so she squired me around the shopping district to find what I wanted. Meanwhile, she bought some stuff, too.
Maybe this kind of thing is available in the States. If it is, I missed it. So, excuse my ignorance. Here, there are shops where cell phone users can bling their phones with glitter, rhinestones and other such sparkly whatnot. After I got what I needed, we went to a little shop where a woman painstakingly glues bling on cell phones, computers and anything else with a hard, shiny surface. It took her about 45 minutes to customize Tina’s phone around the camera lens.
And yes, I waited patiently in the shop until it was finished. It’s too easy to get lost in some of those shopping malls in Changsha. And, by the way, they have Christmas shopping sales in China, too.
Tina then had to join her boyfriend for dinner, so I dumped my purchases in my room and headed for Carrefour (two blocks east) to buy some badly needed Western food items: spaghetti sauce, tomato paste and pasta, plus some snacks for the weekend.
Sunday morning, my other former student in Changsha, Isabella, called me. We met at her school, Hunan Normal U, and with her cousin took a circuitous bus ride to the car show north of the downtown.
The last time I was a car show — or at least one that I can remember — was the 1971 International Car Show in Manhattan. My dad and I went, to ogle at the beautiful …. um … cars … yeah, that was it. That show had some concept cars as spice up the pantheon of production models. The Changsha event, while somewhat less glamorous, had Honda’s robot, Asimo, to add some pizzazz.
(I did not actually see Asimo there. The Honda exhibit was surrounded by a crowd at least eight people deep. I could only see the big TV screen showing a movie about Asimo.)
We have read about China’s new wealthy class of citizens, but seeing shiny new Jaguars, Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs and Ferraris — some with “Sold” signs in the windows — brings the point home more distinctly. No car dealer is going to haul prize merchandise to an exposition center for five days without the expectation of selling at least some of them.
Isabella, her cuz and I stayed just a couple of hours. We were all just window shopping and I had a bus to catch at 3. Tina and her beau stayed to consider which auto they might eventually buy, perhaps with their wedding money next year. Isabella’s cousin wanted to eat Western food, so I suggested Houcaller — a steak place — which I knew was somewhere near my hotel. They got T-bones and I got sirloin plates, for about ¥40 apiece (about $6 — yeah, Americans, cry your eyes out).
Fortified with this filling meal, I boarded the bus for a mercifully uneventful five-hour ride home. The on-board movies were (a pirated copy of) of 2012 and a (probably also pirated) copycat film from Thailand, 2022: The Great Tsunami. These two completed a weekend of disaster movies for me. I’ll blog about that later.