I have a new roommate. I'm not exactly sure when he moved in but he seems to be making himself comfortable in my apartment. I discovered him last night when I was closing my door for the evening. A small greyish creature streaked across the floor under one of my cabinets. I was not sure exactly what the creature was it had moved so fast, I thought it was too quick to be a bug and moved in a more reptilian fashion. A lizard? Nah, never seen one of those in Baoding of all places... This morning I was preparing to leave for lunch and I met my new roommate for a second time when he jumped on my outstretched hand as I plunged it into an open drawer. I think we were both quite surprised at each other and quickly disengaged contact as I jumped about a foot off the ground and he scrurried back into my drawer under some paperwork. I quickly emptied the contents of the drawer and was luckily able to corner my gecko companion into my hands. But what should I do with him? Throw him out? How inhospitable that would be of me. Unfortunately, before I could solve my little dilemma, my new roommate had leaped out of my hands and returned to the deep recesses behind my kitchen counter. There is nothing I can do now but wait and hope that my little companion will decide to show again. This time I am ready, fully prepared with a proper living space/box for him.
Lizard news aside things in China are going along fantastically. The semester is speeding up, literally. Me and three fellow musketeers have collaborated in purchasing four small mopeds to dramatically increase our mobility here in our small Chinese corner of the world. After a very confusing day of deciphering motorized bicycles licensing laws and how they pertain to foreigners we settled on our beauteous new bikes, my own an electric blue. It is a bit faster than my previous electric bike with an easy cruising speed of 40-60 km per hour. A simple errand becomes an excuse for a little joyride and it is impossible to supress a smile when I look back and see one of my buddies in my side mirrors speeding along behind me. The honeymoon ended all too quickly unfortunately though as the 'Made in China' curse began to take its toll. A twice repaired flat tire, broken gas gauge, gas leak, oil change, missing lock, and engine stall and I am still loving riding it but definitely aware of the fragility of my new transport.
The past week has been the 60th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. They call it National Day but I call it just plain awesome. It has been great to be able to take an extended break after the first 5 weeks of teaching. I joined in with the rest of the whole country as on October 8th the National Day parade marched on all morning with much fanfare that greatly resembled the extravagance of the recent Beijing Olympics. My favorite part of the holiday though was a side trip to the Great Wall outside of Beijing. We decided to take a chance on a hint that a guidebook had offered about camping overnight on the great wall. Amazingly, we found a great 'outdoorsy' store in Baoding that let us rent tents and sleeping bags for our camping trip. I was a little nervous about the regulations that the Chinese may have about letting people camp on the wall as they are especially strict on where they let foreigners stay but thankfully our plan was pulled off without a hitch even though the gate which we entered the wall said specifically 'No Camping.' The experience was one of my favorite memories in China to date. The weather was clear and the moon was full for our night spent in a guard tower in the middle of the mountains. We drank Great Wall Wine (not as 'great' as you may think but it warmed us up at least) and ate tuna fish sandwiches by the lights of our headlamps. In the morning we were able to see the sun come up over the mountains and light up everything around us. It was the most amazing sunrise of my life, granted I have not seen that many sunrises but still, you get the idea.