from the great known to the great unknown

so i have been kicking myself over the fact that i have not been blogging as much as i did in the beginning of my adventure here. i have been trying to figure out why that has been. have i gotten lazy? well, that may have always been the case, but i don't think i am any more lazy than before. have i become apathetic to my experience? hardly. i find myself enthralled in this experience every day and to survive i can hardly be apathetic. do i want to cut off all communication with people from "home" and run away to the grasslands of mongolia to spend the rest of my life as a siberian tiger trapper? the thought has crossed my mind, but living in a yurt and eating mutton for every meal would kind of chafe after a while.

i think the reason i haven't been writing as much is just that i am not surprised by things that happen here anymore. a little boy pulling down his pants to urinate on the sidewalk on a busy street. a man smoking while taking a shower at the bathhouse. floating naked in a salt pool with a mural of outer space above me while listening to chinese mood music. being asked to wear a traditional chinese woman's costume complete with a wig while making dumplings all of which to be taped by the school TV station. these are just some examples of things that don't surprise me anymore. every day is filled with little events such as these that i rarely have time or even think about stopping to ponder over. have i become chinese? undoubtedly.

well, to give a quick update. the holidays here were filled with chinese cheer. we were asked to perform on two different ocassions. one performance consisted of a mariah carey "all i want for christmas is you" dance and singing rendition, while the other performance was a mixture of us guys singing and dancing to the backstreet boys' "i want it that way" with the girls doing a dance to a variety of britney spears and christina aguilera. it was without question the most ridiculous showing (as most of it was heavily baijiu fueled) and was without doubt well received.

i am heading out this evening for a six week vacation to hong kong, thailand, cambodia, and vietnam (for the chinese new year and spring festival). mike and i are taking to the road and not looking back. the things we have learned in tongliao will hopefully serve us well for the next six weeks. i now know how to clean up a child's vomit with dirt as well as how to clear a dead cow from the street. those skills should come in handy at some point along the way. i know.