Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Cardiac Arrest

Out of Order

At the heart of Liuzhou’s most modern general hospital, Liuzhou Peoples’ Hospital, is their computer network system which handles appointments, patients’ medical records, prescription dispensing etc. Most importantly, (from the socialism with Chinese characteristics point of view) was that patients could no longer pay before being attended to. No pay. No doctor.

At 5:00 am on Saturday morning the network crashed, throwing the hospital into chaos. Al;though some function was restored to the emergency department, it wasn’t until 15:13 that the system was fully back to normal, some ten hours after it crashed.

Like most Chinese hospitals, the Peoples’ Hospital is notorious for over-subscribing medications, running unnecessary tests and generally over-charging. They also have some of the most incompetent doctors I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. One moron informed me that I had suffered from heart failure, malnutrition, and pneumonia all simultaneously. I had none of those things – and wasn’t dead.  I had a simple kidney infection, which he never diagnosed. But then heart failures and pneumonia and malnutrition pay better!

Not Waving, But Drowning

This evening, Guangxi Early Warning Centre, sent a text message to all cell phones in the area. It reads:


Roughly translated it means

In the hot summer vacation, minors are prone to be attracted to water. Please monitor your child. If you find that children are swimming in dangerous waters and or playing in water, please take the initiative to stop and prevent drowning accidents.

Sensible advice, but there is something sad about it having to be pointed out to parents and guardians that they should look after their kids.

Every year a number of children (and adults) drown in the rivers and ponds as they try to cool down. Last summer, one child nearly drowned while her father was too busy playing with his cell phone to watch over his young child. Ass.

Password Pain

My internet connection has just been restored after 26 hours of down time. This was caused entirely by China Telecom, my provider.

At 8 am yesterday morning, while I was working on something very important, my internet died.  I was cut off. Several attempts to reconnect failed. I was being told the system did not recognise my user ID or password. The user ID and password have worked every day for years.

I guessed it must be some technical hitch at their end and went out to do other things, sure it would be OK when I got back. Wrong.

So I called them and was told they would send a technician ‘tomorrow morning’. Not very convenient, but OK.

Sure enough, someone arrived around 10, spent two minutes on my keyboard and his cellphone and I was back in internet land.

So what had gone wrong? Nothing really! China Telecom had inexplicably decided to change my password and not inform me. Brilliant customer service!

This is the second time they have done this to me. Last time was about 8 years ago, as I recall. Do they explain, apologise or refund those missing days’ service charges? Don’t be silly.

Poisonous Building

A number of businesses in the new Di Wang building, Liuzhou’s tallest, on the north side of Liuzhou People’s Square and next to Bu Bu Gao shopping mall, have evacuated the building today after reports of formaldehyde fumes being blown through the air vents in the building. Some staff have have reported as having headaches and feeling dizzy.

Formaldehyde is a known toxin and carcinogenic. Among many other uses, it is employed in the manufacture of certain building materials such as hardwood plywood, particle board, and medium density fibreboard. Several units in the building remain unoccupied, but many are being “decorated” using such materials.

Investigations are continuing, but it looks like the building will be out of action for at least a week.

The three products that emit the highest concentrations are medium density fibreboard, hardwood plywood, and particle board. Environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity can elevate levels because formaldehyde has a high vapour pressure. Formaldehyde levels from building materials are the highest when a building first opens because materials would have less time to off-gas.

Liuzhou Meet and Learn

I have recently become aware of this group which has been organised to allow Liuzhou ex-pats and locals to meet and share experience etc. Called “Liuzhou Meet and Learn” it organises weekly meetings on Saturday evenings. They have a new blog which describes their aims thus:

For various reasons, they do not openly publish their venue or times, so if you are interested you should contact them by adding them to your WeChat contacts and you will be sent the required information. Scan the QR code or add  MartinFromCroydon to your contacts.

Here are a few pictures from recent meetings.

I should add that I have never been, so would appreciate any feedback.

Flags Up

Every four years,  I get the opportunity to mutter and mumble. But his year, I’m disappointed.

For years, during the FIFA World Cup, shops around town have been flying the flags of the various nations participating in the finals. They always got it wrong, flying the flag of the UK, rather than that of England.

Union Flag

Contrary to popular belief, the World Cup is not a competition between nations, but football associations. That is what FIFA means! Federation of International Football Associations. The four constituents parts of the United Kingdom each have their own football associations. This year the English Football Association is in the finals, not the others.

So, the correct flag is the England flag.

England Flag

This year they have deprived me of my muttering and mumbling by getting the flag choice correct! Wuxing Pedestrian street side offshoot* is displaying all the flags.

and right there is this

I won’t say there are no Union flags being mistakenly flown, but I haven’t see any. This is the first time I’ve seen the correct flags, though and this is my sixth time to be here during the event.

* Technically the offshoot is the only part called Wuxing Street (五星街). The main pedestrian street is 解放南路 or Liberation Road.

Fake News

Twice in the last few days, I’ve been informed that people here have been told that I am about to leave Liuzhou and return permanently to England. The people spreading this rumour appear to be people I don’t even know and who certainly don’t know me.

For the record it is total nonsense. I have no such plan and never have. In fact, England is probably the last place I would want to be in the unlikely event that I were to leave Liuzhou.

Why these strangers have come to this conclusion is totally beyond me. Have they nothing better to talk lie about?

The Price is Right?

I’ve muttered about this before, but it’s getting worse.  Here I give you but two examples from a local supermarket. It could have been from any Liuzhou supermarket.

Exhibit A

270 g of Granulated Chicken Bouillon at ¥21.30. Seems reasonable. ¥0.08 per gram.

Exhibit B

Right next to the above, on the same shelf, is this.

454g of the same Granulated Chicken Bouillon at ¥21.60. Even more reasonable. ¥0.05 per gram.


But this is overshadowed by this Qingdao beer.

On the beer shelves it is priced at ¥2.20 per 330ml can.

Exhibit C

Bargain! At that price, I’ll have a six-pack.

Hold on!

Right below the above are shrink-wrapped 6 packs at ¥16.80. Same beer. ¥2.80 a can.

Exhibit D

I split open a 6 pack, dump all six in my trolley and head for the checkouts, leaving the empty wrapper behind. En route,  I pass the area where they are displaying this week’s special offers. There, they have the self-same, identical beer at ¥2.90 a can!

Exhibit E

I point out all this nonsense to the check out person, who also happens to be a neighbour and she just shrugs.

My de-shrunk-wrapped beer costs me ¥2.20 a can.

Mobile Madness

Yesterday at noon,  I noticed that my cell phone was no longer working as nature intended. I had no service. Attempting to call anyone resulted in a voice message telling me that my service had been suspended but gave no reason.

I headed to the China Mobile office where I was told I needed to re-register and this time give my passport details. I pointed out that I gave them my passport details three years ago and that they photographed my passport, and me, and me holding my passport.

“We don’t have that.”


I had to go home and get my passport and return*

They then went through the whole procedure again and finally my phone service was reactivated.

Utter waste of time.

They also told me that they had sent a message to tell me it was about to be suspended. I pointed out that I have added them to my blacklist because I was sick of the ten text messages and spam calls I received from them every other day.

*According to China law, we should carry our passports with us at all times. However, many years ago, the local police advised me not to, so  I never do in Liuzhou.

Gaokao Games

Yesterday evening, across China, China Mobile sent this message to its subscribers.

Basically says that the 2018 dreaded Gaokao (高考) is being held today and tomorrow (June 7th and 8th). They are warning that, In order to curb cheating in this all important exam, exam centres are employing blocking systems which may have repercussions for non-high school kids..

They specifically say that call reception and internet access may be impaired, but that “normal service” will be resumed after the exams are over.

For those that don’t know, the gaokao is China’s all-important College/University Entrance Exam. It is cruel, pointless and ineffective, but potentially life changing. Cheating has been a huge problem over recent years, often with teachers and parents collusion.

Most education experts in China have been calling for its abolition for years, but nothing changes. Teachers often complain that they do not teach their subjects, but only teach students how to memorise enough to pass the exam. It stifles creative and original, independent thought, which may well be why it never changes. They don’t want free thinkers.

Yesterday Once More.

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