In the Lonely Planet guide book, our hostel boasts a rooftop garden. Like so many boasters it is full of hot air. The roof top garden consists of 10 wilted potted leafy plants, and two big yellowing aloe vera. And mice.
The hostel occupies the 6th and 7th floor of a tenement. On the 7th floor is a deck, maybe 30feet long topped with a dingy glass roof which turns the area into a sweltering sauna. There is a breathtaking (read: suffocating) view of a tall granite building (the Sheraton Mansion). Popping your head over the side you see layers of other roofs and laundry and steel and cement, layers of buildings. 25 feet of deck is devoted to the sheets from the dorms that the Philippine woman, Leslie, is always washing and hanging to dry. The mice are rather scarce in the day light hours. The mice do enjoy the garden tremendously though and every night you can hear them dancing in the plants. There are somewhere between 40 to 50 beds in this place and it is always booked. Many nights the rooms are filled with people just passing through from Germany, New Zealand, Mainland China, Japan, UK, Argentina, Korea, Canada, Australia, Sweden and the occasional Yank. There also seems to be a small contingent of people who stay here for protracted periods, the Canadian who has been here for three years is the most extreme example. Most of the others who stay for a number of weeks are usually in our position, people looking for jobs. Right now there is an American named Kevin, in his 40s from northern California; a blonde haired blue eyed Miami 30 year old, Josh; a man named Johnny, almost 40 whose parents come from Ghanna and Nigeria: all of these people are looking for jobs. There are others too but I have not talked to them, or seen them.
Yesterday as Megan and I walked down the street practicing our numbers and the particular hand gestures which accompany them, a young white guy stopped us to correct our gesture for the number 9. We were surprised because we've found that usually when we encounter white guys on the street they lower their eyes and run in the opposite direction. This guy was a Swede. He told me of a job, some work, under-the-table. I gave him our contact info.
Ashley has work again today. She spent the morning making a lesson plan. Today she meets the parents of the class.
When she returns, this evening we will meet with our friends Adam (from Richmond) and Wei-wei, his ladyfriend. It is Weiwei's birthday and we are going to a place to do some KTV, which is a private Karaoke room.