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One Sick Bastard

To those who noticed, I’m very sorry for my tardiness. I’ve been unwell and when I’m unwell I’m too moody and divaish to write. I only have time to prop myself up in bed and speak fake Spanish through a raspy sickness tone of voice.

I caught a stomach bug that went a bit viral and threw a party in my lower quadrant, so once again I was back to the Chinese hospital to enjoy another uniquely Chinese medical experience. This time I went to a hospital on South Shanxxi road (a swanky part of town) so it was pretty nice, made nicer by some English words that were peppered into the nurse’s conversations with me, an enjoyable touch.

I arrived at the hospital and lined up at the front counter as usual, and using beautiful Google Translate communicated my wish to see a General Practitioner about my stomach. She gave me a charge card, I paid, then went upstairs and waited in line at my doctors cubicle.

General Practitioners (GP’s) do not have offices outside of hospitals, but in this Hospital they have an enormous room which had been divided up into many little cubicles, each cubicle sporting its own little queue line. My doctor’s number was 5, so I showed a nurse my number and she led me through the weaving and winding cubicle rows and put me in my line at number 5 behind three other people. My turn came and it was pretty straight forward. The doctor pushed my stomach around, prescribed some antibiotics and swiped my hospital charge card. I then went down to the pharmacy on the ground floor, grabbed my medicine and settled my bill.

The next morning I woke up in the worst pain I’d ever experienced in my entire life, I felt like I was in labour. I couldn’t even walk, so my close friend came over and carried me into a cab and held me up as I threw up all over the upholstery. One seriously large cab bill later I was back in the hospital and seeing another doctor. This doctor prescribed a drip treatment for me and ordered me to go to the pharmacy before going to the injection ward. Well of course I knew best and thought I’d just go to the pharmacy and pick up my drugs on the way out once my treatment was over. I went to the injection ward first despite my instructions not to, and the nurses there waved me away with frustrated confusion.

Not knowing why, I decided to follow my instructions and went to the pharmacy. Once I arrived it was painfully clear why this had been the doctors order.

The pharmacy concierge handed me 9 bags of antibiotic liquid and dozens of tiny jars of white powder in boxes to haul in my arms up to the injection ward.

Once there the nurses hooked three of the bags up to a drip stand and fed them intravenously into my hand.

I only needed three of the bags so I was expected to take the rest of the haul home, and bring them over the next two days so that the remaining 6 bags and jars of powder could be fed into my bloodstream.

Why we, the general public, are in charge of buying and storing our hospital administered medication is very foreign to me, but I’m adaptable. I used the private time alone with my meds to take photos and Google how appropriate they are to my symptoms. I’m feeling much better now, hence my willingness to write, but I’m not 100% back to normal.

So I may be buying up more of the pharmacy and bringing another armful of medicated liquid into an injection ward again sometime soon. If this is the case, I’m buying a fashionable medicine shoulder bag to better carry my drugs. I need to have something clever written on the front of it though, something like “Sick Bastard” or equivalently lame. Suggestions always appreciated.

F*ck it, I’m Writing an Erotic Novel

It goes without saying that whether your Chinese or Wai Guo Ren (foreign) you can’t say just anything you feel like saying while in China.

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For as long as I can remember I’ve always lived daily life within a relatively thin bubble of restraint. While on a date for example (unless I’m drunk) I won’t say anything too offensive or too stupid (except a couple times).

But in my everyday life and especially while at work I’ve always said exactly what I’ve felt and at a super loud volume and felt little to no kickback for it.
Luckily for me I’m a performer and for us it’s basically expected, even encouraged. My offensive ranting passes off as stand up and the laughter fuels my confidence to push things even further.

This however has changed since moving to China.

In my first week at my first job in Shanghai I made reference to a coworker about the … negative parts of Mao’s legacy in China and was swiftly reprimanded.
China’s sketchy history is off limits.

The new Chinese semester just started here in sunny Shanghai so we workers had a company meeting where we were given a cautionary tale of a foreign teacher who was fired for uttering the sentence “I love both China and Hong Kong” as opposed to “the Mainland and Hong Kong” (as China feels very strongly about its ownership of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet). Whether that story was true or a grossly exaggerated warning; political, social and historical conversations are all strictly off limits here, and things of a dirty or gross nature are kept quiet. (Which hasn’t stopped me from one or two sex related rants in the office, but they were very PG rated and very rare!)

Now don’t take this as a post of me bashing China, I love being here and have no desire to leave. But I am feeling rather bottled up lately, it’s like I’ve been on a first date that just won’t end..

So does one do?

Dance sluttishly to Beyoncé down a thinly populated street? Absolutely, I mean people really aren’t paying much attention anyway.
Add cuss words to conversations while speaking English with people that won’t pick it up? 100%
But surely there’s more I can do?
My solution? Well here we go.

It’s time for me to whip up a pen name, whip open a word document, and write several years worth of pent up filth, offensiveness, depravity and crass into the dirty book to dirty all books.

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I’m gonna write something so despicable I wouldn’t admit to having even seen it with a scimitar pressed against my throat.

But I won’t stop there, to avoid causing an ‘ark of the covenant’ style face melting to a poor unsuspecting editor, I’ll be writing it as a script and recording it into an audiobook where I can really vent all the deep rooted filth and get it all out of my system completely.
Once that’s done I’ll slap a name, fake author name and a quick cover on it and smack it on a digital shelf in the darkest corner of the internet where only neck-beards can find it.

I’ll feel purged, plus I’ll get some practice in for my fledgling audiobook recording career. Win win.
I really think everyone should try this, what better form of therapy could there be? Just take all your pain, rejection, hurt, those messed up thoughts and unleash them on a word document. It’ll be cleaning! Plus there’s a neck beard online somewhere who’ll thankyou for it.
Hey, I’m not judging bro. One mans trash is another mans.. ummm.. nasty smack book.

Remember, if you want your audiobook also recorded by my sultry voice, it’s completely doable, you can source me right here on Fiverr

Making It as a Travelling Freelancer

Once you’ve moved to your dream city and have fled far away from the sticky confines of where you were born, sometimes it’s easy to get the feeling of entrapment in the full time job you took on to make the move possible in the first place.

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Often the jobs we take on aren’t dream jobs, but are gateway jobs to a new life. So when that job starts to eat away all your time and strips chunks off your soul, you need to start finding new ways to feel fulfilled.
The job I have in Shanghai is great, so my soul isn’t exactly in pieces, but I feel drained doing absolutely anything in a full time capacity. Plus as a former performer I don’t exactly relish the feeling of being off the stage and at the desk.

So to get the feeling back that I’m creative, useful and independent I turn to online sources of revenue to get that zest in life and fight off the cobwebs of monotony.

The most important thing in life for me is to perform, so the platform I’ve just started using recently is Fiverr.
Fiverr is a website I’ve used for years to source all my design needs, editing needs, lots of my needs. Basically anytime I’ve needed a professional for something that wasn’t in my physical world (like fixing my sink) I jump on Fiverr and find the right one.
Luckily for me, the performance discipline I’ve been craving to do more of (and has no physical toll on my body, praise the Lord) is voice acting. And wouldn’t you know it; voice acting is one of the professions you can find on Fiverr.
So once the New Year ticked around and a deep craving for something new emerged I busted out the old microphone equipment, recorded a few demos and threw my gig up on the site.

Its early days still so not a whole lot of action yet at this present moment, but I’m putting myself out there and trying to be vocal about it. From talking with the friends I’ve made on the site over the years of being a Fiverr customer, I’ve learned that it’s really slow in the beginning for everyone.
No one knows who you are, you don’t have any reviews yet and nobody wants to be the one to take a chance on someone who might be a complete dud. But over time once the gigs start slowly dripping their way into your lap the snowball begins rolling. I had my first gig yesterday (wooo!) and following that this morning I was in talks with three more people who may never have messaged me without the golden review I was given by the first gig.
I’m really hoping this turns into something real because something like this can follow you around the world and you can fulfill orders online from wherever you are. I have a copy editor friend who travels a lot and funds it by spending a few hours a day editing other peoples writing, she’s living the dream!

This really seems to be the trend, freelance workers unshackling themselves from desks and employers and making it for themselves, oh to be on that bandwagon.

My Fiverr Gig that I’m most proud of is the one where I’ll record your book, textbook or script so that you can listen to it and learn it faster. For example when your driving, walking or sleeping you can listen to your book and learn it quickly, good idea right??

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For design professionals there’s another site called Red Bubble. Red Bubble is fantastic because you can take your design, alter it to fit nicely on a t-shirt or any other number of merchy products and list it on your Red Bubble store.

I am not a designer by any means, but I love quotes. So I just type up the quotes that jump out at me from my favorite shows into a design program, use a funky font and a couple of related pictures and wham, I have a shirt design.
I’ve been hocking shirts, hats, stickers and other swag on Red Bubble for years. People order whatever they want, Red Bubble makes it, boxes and ships it to the customer and you the designer get a cut. I’ll be honest, I’ve made literally only enough money to fund my coffee machine and a couple video games off of this, but it’s not a bad trade off for a few hours working out how to use a free design program and formatting words onto a t-shirt template.

The third and final avenue I use is e-books. As you can see from the Books tab on my site, I make a sell short and cheap e-books.

Basically whenever I’m in the mood I sit down and write out a book that details a predetermined period of my life, and what results could basically be read as an extremely long blog post.
The difference between these and my blog though are that I send these off to be edited professionally (thanks Fiverr) have a cover made (Fiverr) and smack them on Kindles Direct Publishing Platform (KDP).

Amazon has changed the game when it comes to self publishing, they’ve made it super easy and are just about solely responsible for transforming e-books from clunky, worthless digital files onto your computer into a respectable and mainstream method of writing and reading books.
There are lots of self publishers who’ve made a respectable career for themselves; I’m not one of them. I absolutely do not have the stick-to-edness to write a long enough book, or the gusto to market it properly and really give it a chance to shine among the masses.

But like with most things I enjoy giving it a go, making a few dollars and spending those dollars on fun things I may not have bought otherwise.

I have given two things a half attempt, and am giving a third thing my proper attention. I hope this inspires you to go out and do a much better job and make it properly, don’t be like me who is so uncommitted I can barely even finish a

Samples for Days.

The following is from my sexy lil ebook available now on Amazon about moving to China. Hope you love it!

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Everyday life in Shanghai has some major perks, especially when it comes to tech. People still use QR codes here and they use them with a vengeance. Literally everything is linked by QR codes and more than helping you find websites and enter competitions, they help you pay for everything, order anything, and sort your whole life.

Apps here such as Alipay and WeChat can be linked to your bank account and provide you with a QR code that shopkeepers can scan with the scanners they use on their own products. Even tiny Mom & Pop stores who elsewhere wouldn’t be able to afford credit card reading machines can afford to have the app on their phone to scan your QR code. Smart phones can be purchased here for a steal (they’re made locally and the competition is fierce) so there’s no one left out of the system. Your QR app can also be used to pay for bills that once upon a time made you cry with frustration. I use the app Alipay as it’s the biggest, most popular, and easiest for taking care of all my bills.

When the power, water, gas, or internet bills come in, I tear them open and find them written 100% in Chinese and normally I’d shake a fist at the gods and scream, but now I just find the QR code inevitably printed somewhere on the first page. Give the code a scan with my phone and my app produces the bill in English and with one tap it’s paid. I can even set up auto-pay for next time.

This same app recharges my phone, hails cabs, books hotels, reserves restaurants, I can buy lotto tickets, and there’s lots more. It’s like an episode of Doctor Who set one hundred years in the future; I’m just waiting for the alien monster that eats me at the end.

Opening hours across the city are much later than they are back in my hometown of Melbourne, and there’s a lot more choice in every category, which means a lot more competition for your business, which ultimately drives down the prices. This strange and absolutely capitalist model is really confusing for people expecting to come here and find a purely communist state, but that’s not reality anymore. Just stand in the middle of Nanjing Road or Shanghai Times Square, look around and see the proof: McDonald’s, Burger King, Zara, Forever 21, and every other Western mega chain are here. Once it was thought impossible to be your own boss in the country – now Chinese entrepreneurs are making their dreams come true. It’s like New York but with far more people. It’s perhaps a nightmare for lovers of wide open spaces, but it’s a dream for me.

My favorite app though isn’t Alipay, it’s Elama. Elama is a food delivery app that hosts hundreds of different restaurants in dozens of different categories from authentic Chinese dining to rubbish Western fast food and everything in between. There are of course other apps in the same category but this one is my favorite. And once again, due to the fierce competitive prices on the app, the prices are crazy low. In fact, so low are the prices that many restaurants on the app have costs that work out to be cheaper when delivered than if you had trekked there in person. These restaurants can charge normal amounts on the street but when pushed side-by-side on an app? The bidding war for your money is fierce, and you the consumer are the winner.

My Chinese friends do not appreciate the app anywhere near as much as I do – the app is low brow to them. They are used to extremely fast service and competitive prices; they’re used to businesses trying their hardest, and being the fastest and the cheapest. As an Australian who when at home lived outside the Uber Eats delivery zone, paid outrageous prices for pizza delivery, and endured slow delivery and ludicrous service, I am in love with this element of the city.

Accessibility and speed are not only relegated to the dining industry. When I have a clogged pipe, dirty kitchen, or busted light I don’t need to get on my hands and knees, get a ladder, or spare ten minutes away from playing Overwatch. A few taps on the ol’ phone and you can have anyone in the service industry come same day and take care of your issue quickly and inexpensively. Luckily for me my apartment complex takes care of the cost of repairs and cleaning, so I don’t pay anything.

I’ve found nearly 100% of repair people, cleaners, drivers, delivery folks, or anyone else that comes to my place cannot speak English, but so far it’s not been a barrier. Google Translate works great despite Google being banned in China, and if I was specific enough with the order request or delivery instructions there’s never any need for words, just a sincere smile and a thumbs up.

Where’s the Beef?

Is it just me or is ground beef the rarest commodity in the entire Middle Kingdom?

When needed I can easily source beef of various forms from any of the large and well stocked Chinese supermarkets surrounding my apartment. I can have it in shanks, steaks, cubes or jelly. I can have the feet, the ears – hell, I could probably have the tail.

But for the love of God why is mince such a rare thing?

No-one anywhere near me stocks minced beef. To buy this rare treat I need to travel on the subway for 30 minutes and change lines twice to get to the Western supermarket I know about. Is it the closest one to me? Not a chance, but I know how to get there and back again so it’s the local one in my mind.

This upscale Western market has all the goodies.

It’s well lit, smells beautiful, spacious and has little cheese samplings! There’s plenty of service and all the Western delights I could ever want.

But clutch my pearls the prices..

For the money I pay for minced beef I could feed a family of four at a restaurant. Short of buying a grounding machine myself and cranking it out, I have to keep buying it there and paying those prices. I could just buy pork I suppose and pay pennies, or even chicken breast which is far cheaper (unlike in my local Australia). But while I continue to cook the food I stubbornly eat regardless of where I am on the planet at a given moment, I need to accept paying the equivalent of $20 for half a kilo of minced beef.

Paying roughly $20 for half a kilo of mince back in Australia would be enough to stop your heart, a butcher would never sell an ounce. But here in Shanghai it’s a luxury imported purchase that doesn’t form a staple of the everyday Chinese diet, so the price is justified.

When I first moved here I took comfort in my friend telling me that his mother makes him lasagne whenever he visits home. It made me feel confident that minced beef must be sold cheaper elsewhere and all I’d need to do is ask her for the location. This theory was great until I actually saw her lasagne..

Beef chunks suspended in mashed potato (substituting the white sauce).

I had to say a prayer.

Beef isn’t the only thing that’s expensive, but it’s the one thing that has me shaking my head and sighing as I put it in my basket. Weirdly paying $8 for a stick of butter or $12 for a litre of cream almost doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Basically at what it’s costing me to make a lasagne in China it’s a damn event eating one. It’s also an event shopping for one.

The Western market that sells my beef is one of those beautiful, well lit and fragrant markets that distracts from its prices with cheese samples and beautiful servers.

My local grocer is grungy and smells, the woman who bags my vegetables scowls and gives zero cheese samples. But it’s cheap.

I think one market is the kind you shop at for your everyday dinners on the bed, binge watching ‘Rick and Morty’, and the other kind doesn’t have cheese samples.

Getting Tested for STD’s in Shanghai

So you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in China and you’ve had lots of sex while enjoying your awesome new life and kick-ass job. But whether because of a burning sensation in your nethers or because a reasonable amount of time and partners have passed, it’s time for you to be tested for disease.

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I was tested in Auckland before moving to China so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it for as long as possible while enjoying my new city, so I didn’t think that I’d have a story to tell in this area.

Soon after moving to China however I felt like I may have become infected, despite being safe during my sexual misadventures most of the time. Despite my efforts I was exhibiting some troubling symptoms and went to a Chinese hospital to sort it out and discovered I’d picked up a yeast infection that would be cured after a round of antibiotics.

I didn’t feel completely out of the woods yet though so after wandering the internet I found the Shanghai Skin Disease and STD Clinic and decided to get the disease thought out of my head once and for all.

So after much internet searching and googling mapping I wandered into the clinic on my day off and found it a lot easier to navigate than the hospital.
It’s just one level
high and the receptionist spoke English, she took my money and pointed me in the direction of the waiting room for me to wait for a check

After waiting an hour in the waiting room the doctor saw me and asked my symptoms before asking me to drop my pants. This was a relief after my experience in the conventional hospital wherein the doctor had no interest in my junk.
After dropping my pants and standing there with everything — hanging out — the doctor put on gloves and came at me with what looked like a white needle.
My first reaction was to grab my junk and ask him to explain what the hell was happening, but he calmly explained (in the best English he could muster) that this was a thin swab that he had to insert into my urethra to gather a sample to test for disease.
This archaic method has some really terrible reviews online, people have complained of bleeding, swelling and other such symptoms so naturally I was very put off this man and his soft yet menacing penis needle.

After careful thought I deduced that if I had left the clinic to avoid the swab I’d have to search (perhaps in vain) for somewhere that detected disease in conventional ways, such as testing all my fluids, and I didn’t have the energy for that so I closed my eyes and let it happen to me.
My fears were proven right at least in part, there wasn’t any blood or swelling but over the next few days I did develop bruising around the urethric region.

Once the penis stabbing was over I went to the blood center on the other side of the clinic for the blood test.
This method also feels very outdated as the technician crudely pushes a needle connected to a short clear tube into your arm and feeds your blood through the tube until it drips directly into two empty vials. You only have to wait an hour for the results for the syphilis test but the results for HIV takes two days.

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This is my first experience getting my sexual health tested in Shanghai and it was a very classic example of how you hear about Chinese tests being.
I won’t be going back to the same center next time because of my nether-bruises, but I’m not sure where to go instead. Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m hoping other people are having better experiences getting their sexual health tested and staying healthy and happy.

Oh! And not that you asked, but I’m disease free so yay! But next time I check I’ll probably do it while visiting my home country.

Getting Tested in a Chinese Hospital

*Warning – the following post is about disease, hospital and sex related themes*

Anytime I travel I always assume that nothing will go wrong with my health and that insurance is always a scam.
However only weeks into my stay in Shanghai I participated in some very risky and stupid sexual activities and not long after felt some very tingly sensations in my loins.

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The first place I went after feeling these sensations was a nameless Chinese hospital I’d spotted on my way to work.
The first thing I noticed when walking into the lobby was the enormous amount of people and the dark muted colours of the walls and peeling linoleum. Unlike in Australia, general practitioners do not work in their own offices here and can only be found within the large, dimly lit and crowded caverns of the country’s hospitals.

Once I found my way to the front counter I joined a lengthy line to speak with one of the women working the front desk.

The receptionist I spoke with had a very limited grasp of English so using mostly gestures and sign language that included pointing to my genitals, I convinced her to give me an appointment with the relevant doctor.
I had to pay the receptionist 22 RMB and was given a hospital charge card for my procedures to be billed to.

After lots of aimless walking around and misreading signs I stumbled my way into the infection wing of the hospital and joined the many other sick and infected people waiting for their number to be called to see one of the three infection doctors.
After an hour
of waiting my turn finally came and I finally got to see the doctor, however I was in for a rude shock when the doctor told me that he wouldn’t see me as I wasn’t Chinese, he told me that I had to go to a foreigners hospital across the street. This was a pretty surprising thing to be told, but I didn’t really know what to say so I just left and tried to find my way back outside.

I went across the street to be treated by the foreigners hospital and was told by the receptionist that I needed a specific level of insurance to be treated there (a level I do not possess) so I went back to the Chinese hospital.

After finding my way back to the doctor’s office in the original hospital and being sufficiently brazen with the other patients trying to elbow past me I (on my knees) convinced the doctor to see me despite not being Chinese.
Begging seemed to have worked in convincing the doctor into seeing me but strangely he wasn’t interested in seeing my junk, he instead ordered me to get my urine tested and charged my card.
This was then followed by me meandering around the dozen or so levels of the hospital until I found the urinalysis lab and was given a cup and vial and shown a bathroom.

Once in my toilet stall I realized I was expected to pee into the tiny dixie cup then pour the contents into a vial so thin it’s only other use could be to hold a single pencil or no more than 4 needles.
5 minutes and a whole lot of mess later I handed the skinny open vial of urine over to the lab technician and waited half an hour for the results to show up on a vending machine in the lobby.
Using my charge card I accessed a large screen of nonsense on the vending machine that I was able to print and take to the hospital pharmacy. The pharmacist looked at the nonsense paper and handed me 12 boxes of drugs and gave me some instructions for their use, luckily he explained that I only had a non serious lil sum sum (yeast related) and not a deadly sexual infection.

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I did however feel unsatisfied that I was completely OK so I decided that I should also go to a sexual health clinic, not to mention start making better choices to boot..