amw (amw) wrote,

birthday morning diary

How did you spend your 40th? I can tell you how i spent the first half of mine.

Woke up at dawn to the sound of firecrackers. It is Lantern Festival today, which according to wiki means eating 汤圆 sweet glutinous rice balls, watching lion dances and lighting lanterns.

I've never seen any of that happen in Shenzhen, even on a normal year. If it does, it probably mostly happens in theme parks that aren't open now anyway.

Still, some people in the village clearly felt we needed to scare away the evil spirits.

I put on a pot of coffee and watched AEW Dynamite. Wrestling is my Saturday morning happy place. Usually i am hungover and also order in 麻婆豆腐 mapo tofu and 香辣土豆片 spicy fried potato to really stretch out the laziness.

Today i am not hungover and seeing as i am now in my third week of spending the entire day in bed (i do not have any other furniture in my apartment) it doesn't feel quite as relaxing as it should. Not to mention, no fucking delivery.


I am back from my coffee run.

For the new readers: coffee is annoyingly difficult to find in China. Over the past few years the fast food chains have been upping their game by adding espresso machines, but it is still very tough to find ground coffee that you can use to brew a pot at home. The one place that consistently sells coffee beans - and will grind them for you - is Starbucks.

Unfortunately, unless you live in a solidly middle class area, there are relatively few Starbucks.

I left my apartment and, sure enough, still fenced in. Here's a photo of the 外卖 (food delivery) and 快递 (courier) table on the inside of the barrier.

I suppose you could jump the barrier, but there was at least one very bored-looking cop patrolling up and down to discourage it.

As i suspected, the alleys going between the buildings are still blocked off, but i was able to walk through the temple square to get into the village proper.

To my joy, there was a restaurant open. Just one guy, a 肠粉-making hero. Eating out has become such a treat in this lockdown that i immediately sat down to order one.

Actually, i was hungry anyway because my house is out of food.

After breakfast i headed to the checkpoint, which is still situated in such a spot that people outside the village can get to the supermarket.

I exited the village (temperature check) and jumped on a sharebike to ride to Starbucks. The closest one that sells coffee in bags is about 10 minutes away. The roads are busier than they were a week ago, and more restaurants are open than before. It's still more dead than even the deadest days of Chinese New Year, but at least things are going in the right direction.

Well, except one thing. Starbucks is now closed, until further notice.

Happy birthday to me. I legit almost broke down and cried.

I guess there might be a few branches open in the parts of town where the rich people and expats live, but i don't really want to bike halfway across the city searching for an open Starbucks with a surgical mask on my face.

Incidentally, wearing a facemask all the time is fucking garbage. It makes it hard to breathe, your brow gets sweaty, your face flushed, you look like you're about to keel over from fever the moment you do the tiniest bit of exercise. Fuck fucking mandatory facemask regulations.

Anyway, in a fit of despair i ducked into 天虹 Rainbow department store (temperature check) to buy a jar of Nescafé. I also bought a bag of sugar, since the only thing that makes Nescafé the least bit drinkable is sugar.

Then i came back to the supermarket near my house. Where i was barred from entry by a security guard. Closed, the fuck. New opening hours are 9am to 1pm. Who goes shopping that early on a weekend? Worst lockdown ever.

Fortunately due to the new fencing around my house, i now have the privilege of being able to confidently enter the village, so i went back through the checkpoint (temperature check), grabbed a bubble tea from 1点点 and booked it to the wet market.

Wet market was still open (temperature check), and the bean vendor was in! I bought some silky tofu, some burger-like hard tofu and a bag of beansprouts from him, then headed over to the vegetable stand. Ong choy, bok choy, napa cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, thank you very much. Fuck the supermarket.

Since Starbucks isn't even open i have almost no reason to leave my village now. I can get veges at the wet market and alcohol from the convenience stores. Bubble tea and 肠粉 when i want to spoil myself.

I might try to find ground coffee on Taobao. I'm sure somebody must sell it, although so far i only found places that sell whole beans. I could buy a grinder too, but that sounds 太麻烦了, like way too much effort.

Oh, here is a picture of one of the new red banners. These red banners are a key Party mechanism for communicating with older people and other stubborn folks (like me) who refuse to use WeChat.

This one says "please can anyone from Hubei or nearby areas immediately contact the community center to register". Another one nearby says 少出门,戴口罩,勤洗手,常通风 - rarely go out, wear facemask, diligently wash hands, often ventilate [your house]. Good advice, proffered by your friendly neighborhood party committee.

I will say, i am slightly more sympathetic to the local party committee now that they have let me back into my own village.

Of course, that's how it works. They turn up the oppression to 11 then, when everyone complains, they dial it back to 9 and take the credit for listening to the people when in reality 9 is still higher than it was before the crackdown.

I guess in this case it's all in the interest of public safety. Although that's how they defend every controversial thing they do.

Anywho, it's 3pm and i should go make some food. The air is clear and i can see for miles. It's slightly overcast and there is still a bit of winter chill. Perfect weather for a hike, but it's a bit late now. After lunch i might just snuggle back up in bed to watch NXT and Star Trek Picard. I have a mickey of 中国劲酒 herbal liquor to keep me warm.
Tags: china, my boring life, news

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