Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

The Welsh are Coming

I read on the British embassy website that the Welsh football team are coming to Nanning this month to thrash the Chinese national team (everyone does, so it’s no major achievement).

What concerns me though is that I have some friends in Nanning who are excellent English speakers, unlike the Welsh. My poor friends are going to be baffled and wonder what East European language they are speaking. I have warned them!

The embassy has issued one of its regular travel advice notices which is here.

Unfortunately, they fail to warn the supporters that it may not be a good idea to get tanked up on baijiu, either before or after the game.

Before, you start tearing me apart in the comments, I love the Welsh accents and Wales has produced some the greatest orators, actors and writers in English,  I know. Thank you!

#MeToo Liuzhou

A bartender in a Liuzhou bar called police himself to ask for assistance after he felt in danger from a group of women, one of whom he had sexually molested by grabbing hold of her breast.

The group of women, described in sexist terns in local newspaper reports as “young and pretty female customers” were drinking on Feb 20th in an unnamed bar on Qinyun road (青云路 qīng yún lù) in the  city centre, when one of them accidentally bruised herself. In an effort to help their friend, some of them went to the bar to ask for some ice to apply to their friend’s face. It this point the barman, only identified as a Mr. Li, reached out and took hold of one woman’s right breast.

The woman angrily demanded an apology, but Li just walked away. Soon he realised that the women were not going to just accept his behaviour and feared that he was about to get beaten up, so he called the police.

When police arrived, Li confessed that he had inappropriately touched her, but claimed that when he saw the “beautiful, young” woman” he could not help but touch a bit. He said that he did not expect such a touch to lead to so much trouble.

He has been charged with obscene behaviour and is being held for five days.


Narcotic Noodles

A Liuzhou noodle shop owner has been jailed for six months and fined ¥10,000 after being caught adding opium poppy seeds to his Luosifen 螺蛳粉 and Guilin rice noodles 桂林米粉.

In December 2016, he heard that adding the seeds would make for more repeat custom, so in July 2017 he bought a two kilogram sack of the seeds and began adding them to his broth. Suspicious customers reported his shop to the authorities who raided and found 1.6 kilos of seeds remaining.

He was charged with violating State regulations on food hygiene by adding toxic and harmful non-food materials during food processing and sales. The acts “constituted the crime of producing and selling poisonous and noxious foods” and so he was found guilty and sentenced.

54 Drunks

Liuzhou police stopped and breathalysed an undisclosed number of drivers over the Spring Festival between February 12th and 20th. 54 drivers failed the test, with one recording 115 mg/100 ml (the legal limit is 80 mg). Most were given 12 penalty points, banned from driving for 6 months and a ¥1000 fine.

A derisory punishment. Until they start handing out meaningful punishments for drunk driving, the situation will never change.

Dumb Phone – Failed

As usual, with everyone bored to death by the third day of the Spring Festival, they are resorting to their “smart” phones to pass the time. As usual, this has led to the system overloading and failing as often as not.

I’m with China Mobile, although I suspect it’s not with me. All weekend, service has been sporadic, often dropping out all together. Their e-mail service has been severely curtailed. I can receive little and cannot send any message with an attachment over around 100Kb. Normally, I can send up to 10Mb.

It will pass, I know, but will they admit to their system failing or offer refunds on the service fees? Don’t be silly.

Meanwhile, China Telecom’s internet service is functioning fine. So, I am sending and getting my emails – just not when I want to.



This sign has just appeared very near my home.

It is an advertisement for a leech shop. Not a medically qualified clinic or anything. Just a leech cure quackery.

The “medicinal” use of leeches, which usually did more harm than good, all but died out in the west in the 19th century. It was revived in the 1980s on a very limited basis for a few highly specialised applications. Here they are offering it as panacea.

China’s health care practice and legislation is an unhealthy mess.

Still, it doesn’t compare to this lunacy.

Just keep saying that ‘I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu. Inoculate yourself with the word of God. Flu, I bind you off the people in the name of Jesus. Jesus himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu.

Gloria Copeland, Adviser to the so-called President of the USA

Funeral Blues

Just over a week ago, here in Liuzhou, someone I considered my sister suddenly died, just 41. It transpired she was suffering from diabetes, but was in denial and not taking the prescribed advice or medication. This was compounded by the few people who knew about her condition steering her towards nonsensical folk “medicines” instead. I saw her just two weeks ago and had no idea she was ill.

She was also taking care of her mother who suffers from early onset dementia, leaving mama totally lost, but she doesn’t know she is.

She took care of me and helped me out many times. She took care of everyone except herself.

Life is cruel.

Her sister flew back from the UK where she has lived for over 15 years and her brother also came back from where he works in Guangdong – of course.

It has been a shitty week.

But what surprised me most was something I didn’t know. I’ve been to countless weddings in China over the years; I’ve been to 100 day old baby parties (it is considered bad luck to celebrate the birth until the child lasts 100 days); I’ve even been to a divorce party!

But never to a funeral. And I still haven’t. I learned that local custom dictates that no one older than the departed’s generation may attend the funeral. This comes from the whole elder worship thing. The young must pay respect to their elders, but an elder should never reciprocate.

In practice, this meant not only that I couldn’t go, but only her siblings and one close friend of her sister could go. Her mother couldn’t (not that she possibly knew what was happening, but that is irrelevant).

As my lost friend’s sister said to me, if she had been born during the “one child policy” years, it would have meant that no one could have gone.

I have to accept the local culture, but I do think it is very cruel.

Goodbye sister. I will miss you. A good person and the best cook in China! I will never cook Chinese again without thinking of you.

Phở-less in Liuzhou

It has always surprised me in one way and not at all in another that there are so few Vietnamese restaurants here in town. After all, we are very near.  But what surprises me even more is that the three such places I know all do the same one dish and ignore the wide cuisine that Vietnam offers. They don’t even do Phở., the most well known dish, if not always the best.

I saw this place from a taxi about a week ago and went by today.

Like the others it only offers bánh cuốn – rice pasta rolls. They are fine, but hey, there is more!

bánh cuốn

I suspect this is a Chinese operation rather than Vietnamese – they get the Vietnamese slightly wrong on their sign – and they are going for something easy and recognisable. Not that phở would confuse the locals.

This place is at the northern end of 北站路.


This is ridiculous! I didn’t decide to live in Guangxi to freeze to death!

This of you reading this who are currently in Liuzhou will know that yesterday the temperatures plummeted to almost freezing point. They are forecast to stay that way for most of next week before slowly rising to something more sensible.

Those of you who are not in Liuzhou and thinking 1ºC isn’t that cold, please turn off all your heating devices, open the windows and leave them open for at least 48 hours, then tell me 1ºC isn’t cold!

I’m off to sit in the fridge until Thursday. It’s the warmest place in the house.


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