I went to Mass today at the North Cathedral – last Mass in Beijing. There was some activity going on, ton of young people in matching blue shirts, so I couldn’t sit where I usually do. But it’s always nice to see full churches.
I think every time I’ve gone to Mass in Beijing, I see someone instructing someone else how to put their arms over the chest in order to receive a blessing at Communion. I wonder if Chinese Catholics bring a lot of non-Catholic friends to Mass?
Afterwards, I went to a nice Xinjian restaurant at Xizhimen to have lunch with the two friends of a friend who took me to lunch when I first got here.
Every single time I offer treat, I fret about not having enough money. Every single time. This time I had 450元. A lot of the dishes were around 150元, so I was legitimately worried. I even asked if they took credit cards, but they said only domestic cards worked. I tried to stay calm as we ordered, but they said what I suggested was too much and reduced it. We ended up getting a “big plate of chicken”, a plate of noodles, a few lamb sticks, some bread, eggplant and green beans, and Xinjiang [salty?!] milk tea. It was still a ton of food, and delicious, and cost 130元 (around $20). This also happens every single time I offer to treat – I can’t believe how cheap it was, and that I was ever worried.
I got a ride back to the train station, which was great because it was HOT today. Only 35C, apparently, but it felt like the hottest day yet. I’m not sure if it was the humidity (only 50%! Xiamen will be 90+%!!) or the fact that the pollution was pretty bad and I wore a mask all day, but I could not handle it.
At the train station, one of the girls helped me get my train tickets. I had bought three of them online, and had the confirmation numbers, so those were easy enough to get. (Side note: I had a mild panic attack when, at the front of the line with the grumpy teller and a long line of people behind me, I thought all the information was in my Gmail account. That’s like three layers of inaccessible, as I’d have to have internet, get on my VPN, and download PDFs. Thankfully, I had put the numbers in Evernote. But it was just one of those situations where I realize how smoothly my life runs in the US and how . . . different that all is in China.)
The fourth ticket was the one I bought at Tsinghua and then lost. Unfortunately, they had no record of my ticket on the train number I had written down. I vaguely remember him saying that that train was sold out and offering me another one, but I don’t really know which one. We tried several others, all the fastest trains on that day (which better be what I bought!) but found nothing. I’ll probably make a trip back to the place where I bought the ticket, then, worst-case scenario, buy it again. It was 270元, or $45 – not nothing, but I’ve definitely made worse mistakes.
After being on the go all morning in the crazy heat, I was ready to go back to the hotel for the rest of the day. I showered, cleaned up, took a nap, read The Three Body Problem, and kind of started packing. I’m trying to figure out what I can/should bring on my two weeks of travels, and what should stay in Beijing. Opening up my suitcases and going through my drawers, I got a look at the things I’d brought and never used. The award for Most Worthless Thing I Lugged Across the Pacific definitely goes to the big box of business cards I’d been told were ‘essential’. I think since I came to China, I’ve legimitately used one, and gave another two to labmates as basically a souvenir. The award for Thing I Almost Left Behind That I’m Glad I Didn’t is a tie between my Time Capsule (oh, the glories of wireless internet in my hotel room, at least when we have internet in the hotel) and my 3D printed brain (best. show-and-tell. ever.). All in all, I did a decent job packing.