Major accomplishment of today: attending the entirety of an English Mass!
This morning, I left my room at 8:30. This is how the trip breaks down:
- 10 minute walk across campus to the DaNan Gate
- 10 minute wait for the right bus (71) to come, bus driver to get off, take a smoke break, and return
- 10 minute bus ride to the ferry bus stop
- 10 minute walk across the street and onto the ferry
- 5 minute ferry ride to Gulangy
- 5 minute walk (if you don’t get lost) to the church
This is really crazy to me. It takes almost an hour to get to the only English Mass available to me. This is not the only one that fits into my schedule, the only one at the church with the best music, the only one with my favorite priest, or the only one at the prettiest church. It is the only one. In Tulsa, Mondays are considered to have “limited Mass options” because it’s the priests’ day off and there are only a few services offered. Despite this, the vicinity of TU offers more opportunities to attend Mass on Mondays (a weekday) than I have in my entire city on a Sunday, and that’s including Chinese services. (And Oklahoma’s barely even Catholic!)
It was good to be able to go to Mass in English, but it’s still pretty hard to understand. I really wonder where the priest gets his homilies from, because I doubt that he wrote it himself. Today’s centered on GK Chesterton’s character, Fr. Brown, but I didn’t catch much beyond that.
The church was slightly less full today, and even less foreigners – at least ones that I noticed. There was a Spanish family and one black guy, but Erwin said that a lot of the people there were actually Filipino.
After lunch, we went back to the mainland and wandered about in search of food. Approximately 2 minutes before I died of thirst and heat exhaustion, we stumbled upon a Singapore Cuisine Restaurant and decided to eat there. It was the fanciest restaurant that I’ve eaten in since coming to Xiamen – for instance, the booths were more comfortable than my bed (not that most things, including concrete, aren’t, but still). It was also the most expensive: 50 yuan for my half of a chicken and a bowl of fried rice, plus a Sprite and bowl of jackfruit ice cream.
I’m a little bit 不舒服 (not feeling well) today, so I came home after eating. I cleaned up the room preparing for my roommate’s eventual return and then took a nap. I didn’t feel like going out to get food so I boldly tried to make dinner for myself. This consisted of cleaning and figuring out how to use the electric kettle thing to boil water for ramen.
Some thoughts on this dinner: First of all, it came with a fork inside – totally lame – and broke my almost-three-week streak. Secondly, ramen isn’t as ridiculously cheap compared to other food as it is in America (maybe because that’s almost not possible with Chinese currency). I think the reason for it’s widespread availability in China has more to do with the ease of preparation. In America, we use microwaves like we do for most other quick-fix foods, but ramen can be made more easily than most of those foods with the addition of hot water, which is widely available (and safe to drink) even in China.
I’ve also made a few more discoveries about the internet here. I think all blogs are blocked, not just those on popular sites like Blogger and WordPress. Interestingly enough, though, Google Reader is a perfect workaround for this, so I can read any blog I want just by subscribing to it. (The exception to this is certain news sites that only publish headlines and the first few lines of each article in their RSS feeds. If you have to click and go to the actual site to read the rest of the article, then you’re out of luck. This is why I now read NYT and not CNN.) Besides blogs, I haven’t found a Catholic site blocked yet, which means I still have very good access to lots of those online materials – encyclicals, Mass readings, prayers, and even materials in Chinese.
In terms of online media, today had some interesting revelations. The good news is, I can not only watch the Colbert Report with no problems, but I don’t even have to watch the commercials! The bad news is, the iTunes store doesn’t work here, so I can’t subscribe to any new podcasts. (A friend of mine from college started a podcast for Catholic young adults called In Between Sundays, which I’ve enjoyed listening to since coming here. There are a lot of other interesting Catholic podcasts on SQPN.com, but I can’t subscribe to them until I figure out a workaround.
Also, I would like to let everyone know that the email subscription service is not working. If you subscribed to it, you probably have already figured this out . . . I don’t know what’s wrong, as I can see the list of those who are subscribed, but nothing seems to be going out. I’m trying to figure out a workaround for this as well, so please let me know (by commenting here or just by emailing me) if you would really like an email. If nothing else, I can just forward my post confirmations to those who are still interested.