That's it, then. My working days are over. Yesterday I booked a train ticket to Shanghai and a bed in a hostel for three nights. Tomorrow I'll start packing and go to Hangzhou one last time. As always, weeks that seemed to telescope endlessly seem now to have passed by almost unnoticed.
A few things that still make me smile: inane western presenters talking about eating candied hawk on CCTV9; sunburnt, topless men who push into queues at train stations; waitresses who hand you the menu and simulataneously whip out their order pad; the Volkswagen Santana - the poor man's car of choice; takeaway aubergine and tomato every lunchtime; people taking outdoor showers in their underwear; students using sellotape to strip the ink off their paper when they make a mistake; motorbikes on the pavement; students telling each other that "you only know what the government says" - a conversation I thought it better to truncate. Although the teaching industry and raw capitalism can sometimes be dispiriting, I've never regretted coming here. China has been an experience.