Lovely bookstore, Fitness center, papaya boat, and freeze tag 

Ahhh… Just walked home from my first Yoga class. This class did wonders on my cramped legs. 
  
This morning, Mom and I walked (more like limped, for me) to a bookstore which was expansive and packed to the brim with books. I spied a lot of translated English classic books such as “Jane Eyre”, as well as books like “1Q84”, “Divergent”, “The Kite Runner”, “My Name is Cat” and so many other books I want to read. In addition, there were books by the Chinese author, Mo yan, that I read in English back in Seattle. Children, teens, old people are hidden here and there in the midst of the bookshelf, thoroughly absorbed by the book they are reading. Because I didn’t bring my iPod, I have no pictures of this lovely place. However, I am defiantly going there soon to soak up a good story or two. 

   
 Yes, we finally got access to the gym located on the fifth floor of the Jinjiang Hotel! Two days ago, our aunt brought us there and made a point to the manager there that the cards that he gave her a few months ago (which Sharon and I tried to use) did not have an expiration date. The gym ( ) is actually very cool, as I mentioned before. Spacious glass doors, marble walls and floors, even the locker room had pretty cool locks that are automatic/electronic/magnetic, unlike the gym lockers I’ve encountered in America. 

   
   
Since this was a Wednesday (August 12) afternoon, not many people were there to workout, making it more comfortable for me since I tend to look like I am dying when running. However, there were quite a few people on the free-weights area and it is the first time in Tongren that I had seen guys that are tall and muscular. Usually on the streets here, men are usually pretty short and walk around with the bottom of their shirts placed on the top of their tummies. Toned and muscular trainers in neon shirts were spotted here and there, helping people with weights or just observing the gym.
We were eclectic to get working because the last time we came with all our stuff, we were turned away due to the inability of the passes and felt pretty down. Sometimes being too excited to workout is a bad thing though… When Sharon went swimming, I decided to hit the treadmill and run–run from all that excess storage of food hanging on my body. I had to switch to another treadmill after the first five minutes due to this insistent squeaking noise produced by the treadmill. I probably annoyed the guy next to me but I really didn’t notice the squeaking since I had my earpods in right away. Before I started running on the next treadmill, the coach came over and asked if I needed help using the treadmill. I replied that I am doing just right but he proceeded to tell me how to adjust the inclinations and then told me that I looked weak. Hm… While I was never told that in my life from a stranger, his point did have some truth in it; after all, not exceeding consistently and eating lots of yummy foods high in energy must contribute to my current physique. Nevertheless, I was determined to prove him wrong and immediately began running as hard as I could for half an hour straight. I felt the pain and soreness in my calves right after I stepped off the treadmill. I never imagined legs to ever be this sore– so sore I couldn’t walk at all yesterday and today. Really weird. 

After I took a shower (cool stall and shower space– but no curtains!), I explored more of the gym. 

   
    

1st of 5 servings…
 I felt really spoiled afterwards because Aunt surprised us with going to the 6th floor for dinner. I did not expect the place to be so fancy– I just needed a satisfying dinner. From Mongolian styles skewered lamb to a chocolate fountain to seafood that I didn’t eat (sea cucumbers, crabs, oysters, mussels, shrimp, fish…) to veggie-wonderland to dessert-heaven (custard, boysenberry jelly in a teeny teacup, slices of German cheesecake, tiramisu cake, mango icecream…) –buffet style. 

   
    

We also tried apple cider vinegar, as a beverage, because it is popular here as an aid to weight loss. It was still much too sweet though! If you know me, I just love food too much, which is why I ended up having about five servings. I thought it was the end since my food baby made me look like I was months pregnant, but nope! Here comes the ying-er and dried red date soup in a steamed, whole papaya. Ugh. So good I just couldn’t resist (for sure going to be making those at home). I basically gorged myself after exercising. Wow. The food was just amazing. 
We met up with Grandpa, Mom, and brother for a walk to the house and neighborhood that Mom lived in up in part of her childhood. In a matter of only a couple of minutes, we reached their old home. It was so beautiful in terms of the antique buildings with vines reaching and stretching around little balconies, and the flower pots lined up against walls and on stone steps. Old men and women were sitting on benches under the canopy of trees as we greeted them. Little brown and black puppies ran around so happily. The current residents were kind enough to let us into their home to let us see the place. The home was worn to the bone compared to when Mom inhabited the place. After a tour of the home, in which I got 2 mosquito bites, Sharon, Richard, and I all became little kids again and relived the games such as freeze/toilet tag, jump rope in “helicopter” style, Black shoe, ball, bubbles, “Chair”, and more that we used to play in elementary school…

 

tea place we passed by that cost about $100USD per tea kettle … who can afford?
  
    
    
 We are down to a week in Tongren and before we go, I want to spend some more time with Grandparents, as well as walk to Huaguosan again.

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