Woke up at the crack of dawn, not that I wanted to. My body just wouldn’t let me sleep. An upset stomach and a mild hangover kept me from sleeping-in. My girlfriend’s parents were already waking up at this point and beginning to make breakfast anyway, so sleeping in probably wasn’t on the table regardless. I ate a small breakfast and drank a cup of coffee. Exhausted, but committed to being conscious now.

My girlfriend had a dentist appointment and left with her parents for the “hospital” while I spent the better part of two hours relaxing on their sofa working on pictures and watching random YouTube videos just trying to find the motivation to power through my exhaustion and go on with my day. Which, I did. I got dressed and left; Walked to Wanda, and had lunch at Mr. Pizza (a Korean pizza chain which is probably the best Fushun has to offer).

Left Wanda and hailed a taxi to the new M3 location — a 12元 fare (comes out to about $1.75…crazy how cheap they are compared to the States!). The new M3 is nice. A much bigger, much nicer building in a better location than the old place with a dedicated café to boot. Prices comparable to those of Starbucks and better coffee to offer, but almost entirely empty. I thought I’d relax here, stay warm, saturate my body with caffeine and try to run into some old coworkers. Better to try a chance encounter here in the adjacent café than disrupt the school environment by walking in uninvited to their workplace during hours.

Lo and behold, Chris walked in for a couple cups of coffee and greeted me with a “Hey, stranger!”. I was working on my iPad with music bumping through earbuds; Didn’t even notice him come in. It was nice to see him again and hear how he’s been doing. Ready to leave, apparently. Three years in Fushun with his wife (who has been here for about two years now) and looking forward to returning home to get a master’s degree. I don’t blame him.

I finished my cup of coffee and got ready to brave the cold again with camera in hand.

I spent about an hour just walking around the Hedong area near the new M3. It is close to where the old M3 used to be, and a street market exists on the adjoining street. I used to buy skewered chicken and marinated chicken from local vendors there when I worked M3 “back in the day”. It was noticeably less lively than I remember it being, though it is also December and freezing.

On my way back down the road towards the new M3, where I was planning to use the WiFi to check-in with my girlfriend, I ran into Joey, another old co-worker who has been here longer than anyone else I know within the company. Rather, Joey ran into me. I was taking a photograph of a construction worker being lifted up on a crane when I caught him looking at me from across the road, trying to figure out who this 老外 taking pictures was. When he saw my face he instantly recognized me, and I him. We walked back towards the new M3 together and caught up along the way. Once on WiFi, my girlfriend called me asking me to come back home. She had returned from the dentist and was in a fair amount of pain and wanted company. I was pretty tired at this point. She didn’t have to sell her offer at all. I hailed a cab and made my way back home.

Met up with my friend Evan for dinner. We took a taxi to Hedong, to a road near the old M3 that is full of restaurants covered in lights. One nice thing about China is the nightlife and all the lights. It’s always beautiful walking around at night because all the buildings are littered with neon lights and LEDs.

The restaurant he took me to was a Chinese BBQ. It was really good. All sorts of meats cooked on skewers — lamb, chicken, pork. Also a great garlic eggplant dish. We spent about two hours there catching up…talking about the past, the school, life in general. It was nice.

I got home at a reasonable hour and went to sleep.