Category Archives: Blog

New Podcast Series: Sounds Of China.

We have a new podcast series Sounds Of China. SOC is a soundscape of Chinese life.

Each soundscape will be 5-6 minutes long. The first soundscape was recorded on the Chengdu Metro line 2.

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A-Z podcast new episode: JUNK food in China

In this episode Ian & Austin talk about Junk food in China.

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A-Z podcast new episode: The internet in China

In this episode Ian & Austin talk about how to get internet access, mobile wifi, The Greatfirewall, VPN, updating iPhone and Andriod apps and Skype.

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TIC China Podcast MINI series Ep7 Movies in China

Ian talks about the international film quota and the cinema experience in China.

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TIC China Podcast Mini Series Three Short Episodes this week.

All we have three great episodes this week part of our mini series.

Austin meets some ladies of the night.
Ian and his son discuss this weeks release of Star Wars The Force Awakens in China.
Ian also talks about private birth hospitals in China part of the becoming a dad series.

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TIC China Podcast Episode H of the A-Z Series

In this latest episode Ian & Austin talk about H for Holidays.  Recorded live in The Bookworm Chengdu.

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The Chinese Pollution Revolution 2016?

No you can’t fool the children of pollution.

Over the last few days Chengdu’s pollution levels have been extreme no difference really from the last 5 years just the same as usual. In the last couple of years I have started to wear a pollution mask on these danger days. So yesterday (NYE) I popped on my mask and headed off to the metro station on the way I walked past a young father and his very young son as soon as the father saw me he started to laugh. I was so angry I just muttered through my mask “wanker”.  I was thinking how dare you laugh at me you’re the one bringing your child out into this shit. I must note the local government sends out messages that children should not go outside.  I usually feel a bit weird in Chengdu as you usually don’t see many people wearing masks and being a Lowai (foreigner) makes me extra pointing fodder. “Oh look at the Lowai with the pollution mask” laugh, laugh, chuckle, snort and cough.

Finally I arrived at my metro station downtown as soon as I stepped out of the station I was overwhelmed. The amount of young Chengdu locals with pollution masks was astonishing. As I walked down the street to work I was getting nods of recognition from other mask wearers this had never happened before usually when another mask wearers saw each other they would just hang their head in shame, but not today folks! What’s changed? Maybe it was the documentary earlier in the year called Under The Dome, which is now banned in China. Maybe it’s because young people in China have finally had enough of being bombarded with commercialism and has come to the realisation that some things in life are more important.

Is this a pollution revolution?

Happy New Year

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TIC China Podcast Episode G of the A-Z Series

In this latest episode Ian & Austin talk about G for Ganbei.  Recorded live in The Bookworm Chengdu.

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TIC China Podcast Episode 6

In this latest episode Ian & Austin talk about F for Food.  Recorded live in a secret location in Chengdu.

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TIC China Episode 2 A&B

This is our first full length podcast which is now available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
Recorded live on the patio at The Bookworm Chengdu Ian & Austin discuss the first two letters on their A-Z guide for living in China.

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Bookworm Chengdu

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Yes folks the new TIC China podcast has finally arrived.  Episode 1 is just an introduction.

Please join our Facebook Group

Also click below to listen to our first podcast.

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When a child is born (In Chengdu)

Thursday 24th September at 10:15pm Stanley entered the world. 

Technically he was already in the world just enclosed in his mothers womb. Lei started to get mild contractions late Monday evening.  Around 2am Wednesday morning we decided to head down to the hospital as the contractions were increasing.  Call the DD taxi China’s Uber.

Check In

Our package (not a Thompsons holiday) included four nights stay in the hospital after the babies birth, but because we arrived early Wednesday morning they advised us to pay until we could check in at 11am.  The rate was 40rmb per hour I asked Lei if we should book into the Shangrila hotel for a few hours it would be cheaper you can imagine the response. So around 11am we checked into our room.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink.

Around 5pm Lei’s waters broke the doctor informed us that we should head up to the delivery room. I was suited up with a beautiful blue hat , 1970’s PJ top and a pair of fake crocs.  Lei opted for an epidural after the injection they brought in some dinner for me and mum to be who was now currently high as a kite and jabbering away to the nurses.  After dinner one of the nurses came and styled Lei’s hair, nice touch.


Push! Push! Add Oil!  Add Oil!

After four and a half hours of extreme hard work by Lei little Stanley arrived.  I have never been consumed by so much emotion and relief.  I cried like a baby whilst Stanley was silent with eyes wide open and looking around the room.  To be honest watching him arrive was amazing the thing that shocked me the most was the arrival of the placenta, which was quickly bagged and ready to go. In China it is common for the placenta to be taken home and cooked by the grandparents and family. If you don’t want the placenta it’s common for the nurses to sell it on the black market.  I will not be partaking in this meal.

Four nights of helpfulness 

I’m so glad that we decided to go private (see previous posts about the public hospitals) the nurses were on call anytime of day always willing to help and even change Stanleys nappies.  One of the nurses told me it was great to see that I was eager to learn how to change and bath Stanley as most of the Chinese dads don’t really do much. I don’t need any abusive comments from Chinese dads as this was her opinion not mine. It was hard to leave the hospital, beacuse we came to the realisation that we have now become Stanleys personal nurses.


To be continued.

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Beautiful Time Lapse Video Of Chengdu.

I found this amazing time lapse video on Youtube by Xilin Wang

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You and your husband are not allowed to kiss in the first three months and after the eighth month of pregnancy it could cause miscarriage. 

Sometimes I just want one good source.

There is so much information on the internet via blogs, forums, youtube etc.  It can become a never ending night of clicking and reading.

I found a book in the UK called Expecting McGrail & Metland.  We have found this book really useful.  It has a week by week guide on how your baby and body is changing.  I just wish they had a Chinese version as some of the medical language is hard to translate.

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We also bought some Chinese books.  To be honest we never refer to theses books and the second book cover made me feel uncomfortable.

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Baby Stuff And The Art Of Status

Buying baby stuff in China over the last few years has become a sign of status.  Due to the rise within the middle class attitude of keeping up with the Joneses.

Everybody wants imported products as they don’t trust the Chinese brands even though 99% of the imported products are made in China.  I recently bought a bottle from Mothercare in Chengdu a Chinese friend informed me that it would not be the same as the quality if I had bought it from Mothercare in the UK.  I informed her it’s exactly the same bottle both made in China.  No she informed me the Chinese one will be of a lesser quality.  Sigh!

Also I have noticed pricing is sometimes double that of what we pay in the West for the same product just because it’s so called imported.   You can also buy western baby products online on Taobao (Chinese Ebay), but even then everybody tells you it’s probably fake.

Changes in the last few years.

Baby Transport

When I first came to China in 2008 you would hardly see baby prams or buggies on the street most locals carried their babies in baskets or had a chinese style buggy.  I don’t think I even saw a baby care seat until about 3 years ago.  Now everybody wants Silvercross or some other kind of Western pram or buggy.  To be honest they are just not practical in the city, most of the cities in China are not wheelchair or buggy friendly.

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Even before the baby is born it’s already competing on a material wealth level.

Nappies (Diapers USA)


Again when I arrived I noticed most kids had crotchless pants. Most Chinese parents used the Nappy/Diaper free method mostly through tradition and cost.  Apparently newborns are able to signal their mother when they need the toilet, but when using a Nappy/Diaper they lose this ability.

Now in the supermarkets you have a huge choice of imported and local products.  Local Pampers or imported Pampers the choice is yours.  So in the last ten years there has been a massive increase in Nappy/Diaper use in China the environmental impacts must be huge.

If your interested in the Nappy/Diaper free method check out this video warning contains poop and pee.  Also I’m not sure about letting the baby pee in the kitchen sink.  Youtube


When I tell most of my friends back home that we will not be using a cot or crib for the first six months and that the baby will be sleeping in our bed I usually get a some kind of shock reaction. Again until recently most Asian and African parents have their babies sleep in their beds (co sleeping).  Apparently the level of SIDS in China is really low.  Yet again cot/crib sales have increased in China due to the rise in middle class incomes.

If interested in co sleeping check out this interview with James McKenna, PhD.


It feels like everything is being over simplified and the goal for material products even for babies has become a goal, a dream and a reality.

I’m just waiting for the day when I see a baby with an iWatch in Chengdu.

Globalisation baby globalisation.

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Cycling in Chengdu. Natooke.

I have been cycling in Chengdu for the last couple of years, but my rate of cycling has increased since November 2014.  I have one bicycle I use just for the city and I have another bike for cycling in the countryside.

Take a listen to a podcast interviewing my favourite bicycle shop in Chengdu Natooke.

Natooke Podcast


The Curious Orange.  Frame is a Chinese brand Forever, but most of the components are from Natooke.

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Jacob (Natooke) fixing The Curious Orange.


The Trooper for countryside rides.


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Echocardiography causes UNWANTED STRESS

In June we had the 4D Scan/Echocardiography everything seemed ok until we our saw our doctor after the scan.

She informed us that there was an echo from the left side of the babies heart or left ventricle and that this could be an indication of Down Syndrome.  She informed us we need to get a second opinion from Huaxi (West) Hospital within the next two weeks.  My wife contacted the hospital, but the next available appointment would be in eight weeks.


If you don’t have any 关系 guanxi (relationship) in China it can really difficult to get anything done medically.  Luckily a friend of ours had some contacts in another private hospital in Chengdu.  They reviewed the report and said everything was fine and that the Echocardiography results can be very misleading and not to worry and that this happens all the time.  I had been really stressed over the first results more than my wife, but after the advice from our friend this gave us a lot of relief.

Stress us out again!

About three weeks ago my wife went for a blood test and general check up at our hospital.  The doctor asked about the results from Huaxi.  My wife informed our doctor that we got a second opinion from another doctor from a private hospital and that everything was ok.  The doctor informed my wife that she wanted her to get this checked out again, because one of her patients had just given birth to a child with Down Syndrome and that we could still abort at week 30.  When she told me all this I was angry and upset.  How can they expect us to have an abortion at week 30.  We came to the conclusion if the baby has DS we don’t care.  We can give the baby a good life.

Corrupt Government Hospitals.  Return of the Yellow Cow.

We decided to get it checked out at Huaxi Hospital.  My wife called the appointments line next available appointment would be at the end of October after the babies birth WTF.  So we had to call a yellow cow.  A yellow cow is basically someone who can get you an appointment with the doctor via some corrupt channel we had to pay him this time 300rmb bear in mind that this is only an appointment to see the doctor who can authorise a scan.

My wife’s ticket had no number or appointment time that means everybody from the doctor to the person dealing with appointment is corrupt.  So we get an appointment to see a doctor my wife went to see the best doctor in Huaxi (allegedly) and informed her of our situation.  This so called best doctor just laughed and said to my wife good luck with getting an appointment for a scan.

Again my wife was informed late October for a scan.  We contacted our Yellow Cow he informed us he could get us an appointment in two weeks, but it would cost 1500rmb and that he could not guarantee the time.

We decided to find another private hospital in Chengdu to do the scan so two weeks ago we had another echo scan for only 400rmb.  There was still an echo from the left side of the heart.  The doctor told us not to worry that our hospital was just trying to cover themselves in case the baby had DS.  They informed us we could have a DNA test.

Finally some relief

After doing some intense research regarding echo noise from a babies heart there seems to be no definite research or statistics.  I even asked the doctor what are the chances of the baby having DS 50% 20% 10% ? The answer was we don’t know.

We had another scan last Thursday 6th August the echo had gone relief all around.

After reading hundreds of posts from parents it seems until somebody does some in-depth research doctors worldwide need to be cautious with the information they give to parents.  I understand the hospital is just covering themselves, but really if the percentages are so low or unknown why give any parent this added stress.

To be honest I wish we had never even done an Echocardiography.


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Snow Mountain Surprise

Yesterday morning I woke around 6am in our Chengdu apartment opened the windows and saw something I have never seen before in Chengdu.  I could actually see Xi Ling Snow Mountain looking towards the North West from near Wanda plaza on the 2nd ring road.  You could actually see the snow on top of the mountains with your naked eye.  My father in law told me that when he was younger you could see it everyday, but with the rise in pollution over the last twenty years it maybe happens only a couple of times a year if your lucky.

The picture quality is not so good as I was using my phone.  The other pic was from a Chengdu website.








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Two White Chicks In China Podcast

A big thanks to Hollie & Nora for mentioning my blog in this weeks podcast.

Two White Chicks In China

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The old ways are not always the best, but some are.

“Lets get some rabbit tonight?” I asked my wife.  “If I eat rabbit our baby will have a hair lip”

Every week I hear something which I feel is bizarre about child birth in China.4351006

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The Public Hospital

At first we wanted to use a public hospital like 99% of locals do.  After my wife found out she was pregnant the next step was to get down the hospital and do some basic blood tests.  Also every Chinese woman has to start a file called a 档案 (dang’an).  It’s basically a record of all your appointments and doctors notes.

This first visit was done in late February.

Step one: Try to get an appointment at The West China Hospital (Huaxi).

Before you get an appointment you have to obtain a Hospital card with your Chinese ID.  Very simple and quick put your details into a interactive card machine and good to go

My wife called the appointment hotline, either that or queue at 4am to get a ticket.  They informed her she could not get an appointment until 2 weeks later.

Solution: Outside the hospital you can get what is called a yellow cow ticket.  Basically you pay somebody to queue outside with your Huaxi hospital card.  They have some connection with the people selling appointment tickets.  We payed around 200rmb to just get the appointment ticket for the next day.  This does not include the price of the doctor which is another kettle of fish.

Step two: Go to appointment.

You choose your doctor when making the appointment.  A low level doctor (junior) will cost a lot less, but they have more appointment times than the high level doctor.  So we opted for a mid level doctor around 60rmb.  When you arrive at the hospital its similar to the end of a football match when everybody is trying to get out of the ground.  First step pay for the appointment.  Find the cashier desk which is next to the ten ATM machines, pay cash get receipt.  Next step find your doctor.

Enter the maze and crowds of confused mum’s to be.

After 20 minutes we found our doctor.  When your appointment number is called you will enter the doctors room. (women only).  Now from my experience in the UK this is usually a one on one experience, but not in China it’s more like a one on twenty experience.  The room is full of expecting mums and people just randomly walk into the room by mistake or try to blag their late appointment with the doctor.  No respect is shown to either patient or doctor.

Step three: Blood test

After trying to find the blood test area which is actually similar to a garage forecourt.  You queue up with the other 10 thousand patients and wait for one of the magic doors to open.  After your blood test is complete you have to go back to the doctor.  Only to be informed that your test results will be ready tomorrow.

This took around a total of three hours.  I just felt like the women were herded around like cattle.

Step four: Test results

Come back next day.  The helpful doctor will inform you that everything is OK, go home and rest until your first scan.

At not one point was this experience a good one.  There was no care in the so called caring system.

After speaking to lots of friends and family we decided to go private.  One of my friends had her baby in this hospital and had to sleep in the hallway for two nights.  No thanks.



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Not updated for a long longtime

All I have not updated my blog site since November.  I had some issues connecting to wordpress.

Old Video From My Times in Japan

Theses videos used to be on google video, but have been moved to Youtube.

Starring my old my friends a young Asuka (sister), Yoko and Wataru.  I’m still in touch with Asuka and Yoko, but I lost contact with Wataru…. good times I was so young and stupid.


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We are not Christian in Europe we have never been!

Europeans had their own religions.

We should compare ourselves to the Native Americans. The Christian infiltration is no different from manifest destiny. We are European our religion was based on the seasons.

Our religions existed for thousands of years before middle eastern Christianity.

Think about it

Pollution In Chengdu

First photo taken 26th June 2014 second photo taken 28th June 2014



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