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A Rough First Month In Guangzhou

If you are just arriving in Hong Kong and need to transit to Guangzhou there are some things you should try to avoid. Number one would be to make sure that you have some rest at the airport. Maybe a couple of hours in the airport bar, especially after your 12-hour flight. 

If you are heading for China, may I suggest you take a train? You really don’t want to have to drag yourself and your luggage to the 3hours + bus, with a one hour wait at the border in Shenzhen. If this is the first time in China, you really must try to book a hotel where the staff can speak English. 

Unfortunately, I was guilty of all of these. Although in my defence, I hadn’t booked the bus or the hotel. These were arranged by my employer, and I had little say in the matter. 

When you sign up with a teach abroad programme, your head gets full of wild ideas of trekking the Himalayas, the great wall of China, exotic romance. But the first couple of days were spent doing mundane tasks that amazed me only in that they were done with the most mind-numbing bureaucracy imaginable.

That terrible bus journey, all the way from Hong Kong to the inner city of Guangzhou , made me realise how much concrete I was going to see. Not only that but the place looked like Korea did before it became cool. 

After eventually finding the hotel (tip: for gods sake choose somewhere central)I then had to think about eating. What’s that smell? When you can breathe something other than pollution, you’ll see that food is all around you. You choose between eating in one of the cheap canteen style places, or somewhere more upmarket, like a shopping mall restaurant. the first meal I had was some kind of beef offal noodles and it was totally delicious.

I thought I had come to the wrong place…

After the first night in Guangzhou, I was soon to discover just how total and all encompassing tool the Chinese system was. It seems that all long-term visitors are required to submit to detailed medical checks. This could not be done at a small private clinic, but a vast public building. The main task was to process us as quick as possible. This meant that the blood tests were carried out in the open, not behind closed doors. It’s more efficient, though less private way of carrying out procedures. In less than two hours, I was given kidney, lung, heart and urinary tests. This was done with the maximum of efficiency and the minimum of bedside manner or privacy. Yet they msut have taken care of 250 +arrivals that morning alone. I was forced to admit the sheer task of it was something to admire. 

Back at the hotel, I was starting to appreciate the extra touches that were available. A pool would have been a boon on the stuffy afternoons. In Guangzhou, the heat stays on the ground , and never moves from morning to night .

I was subjected to a battery of tests on my first day.

But the hotel offered a gym, and a laundry room And every afternoon, staff laid out fresh cakes and fruit in the restaurant area. There were still surprises when it came to breakfast. Sometimes , there would be croissants, other times not. Egg came hard boiled or fried. And there were only a couple of cereal options. 

It was fun to open up the large steaming serving dishes and think of what to have. There was a choice of rice porridge, and several condiments that seemed to make the bland dish jump alive with flavour. 

I followed my cue from the mostly Chinese diners.  Every so often I would spot a non-Chinese face, this was extremely rare however. They were mostly as bemused by the situation as I was . the situation was not like t standard international hotel that could have been anywhere. Instead, this was strictly a Chinese hotel that made few allowances for non-locals.

Another shock was seeing that the bedrooms on one side of the building did not come with an outward facing window. The only opening window opened to the landing, the only air flow then came from opening the door, and the air-condioning. If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll find it difficult to sleep if the bed is near the AC unit. 

My first impression of China was extremely negative. Partly this was my fault. If you go to a country knowing nothing beyond some loose ideas from what you’ve heard or seen, you are going to be surprised. In my case, I believed that reading too much would possibly cause me to have ideas that China was worse than it really was,. 

In any case, you don’t really know how it’s going to feel until you live in a country. And however much you can read, when you get there the place you come to is often not the one that you pictured.

On my third night, I took a walk to the Pearl River Bridge. Across the street next to the underground metro is a giant shopping mall. It was full of teenagers, dressed in their best clothes and seeming to be moving around, excitedly taking photos, milling in and out of shops but never buying anything. It was a common sight wherever I went in the next few weeks. A few scrappy street vendors selling things on skewers, but inside, teens waited in front of restuaurants for a seat inside. The old Chinese style was giving way to shiny comsumerism. 

There were coffee shops, American fast food restaurants alongside more traditional Chinese tearooms and roast duck restaurants.

I walked past stalls selling durian and piles of CROCS. Inside the old restaurants sat mostly older men, their chaests bared,  smoking and eating from steaming cauldrons. Most of these restaunts only had signs in Chinese. But I could tell from the shiny pictures what I was going to be given. At one beef noodle restaurant, I paid less than two pounds for a glossy bowl of beef soup, vegetables and rice. 

I went in to a gleaming Starbucks occupying a prime location next to the Pearl River. Coffee was marketed as a luxury product, with prices to match. One medium freshly brewed coffee was nearly double the price of my noodles. None of the well-heeled locals seemed to mind. 

The Canton Tower, a recent addition to the city (finished in 2008) was brightly lit and stood out from the boxy grey towers.  Right next to it is another major Guangzhou landmark. The National Theatre, designed by Zaha Hadid, was one of several new buildings by so-called star-chitects. the sloping steel concrete design looks like the body of a giant whale. Inside, the walls represent the pebbles smoothed by the Pearl River, all very poetic.

China may be currently facing a mass retirement with the largest group of pensioners in history, but with the easing of the one child rule, there are babies, children, and teens everywhere. And whilst the young are squeezing themselves into packed subway trains, their elders live a slower life, pushing babies in strollers between dancing Tai Chi in the park. 

At night I read more about China’s history. In 1979, Deng Xiaopeng singed reforms allowing limited free trade in China. Wham played the first rock concert EVER in 1985 a few years before THE LAST EMPEROR was filmed in the Forbidden City. A period of modernisation led to the democratic uprising that was brutally crushed. But nothing could stop the rapid industrialisation. A country that hadn’t changed for centuries hosted the Olympics and had the highest steel production in the world, rising to 1 billion tonnes in 2015. 

I suddenly had to reformulate everything I thought I knew and develop a new understanding, and it was going to take much longer than a few weeks.

Hotel or Airbnb? Why it’s not such an easy decision to make.

You’d think there would be no contest because Airbnbs are nearly always cheaper than a hotel in any category. But it’s not so simple as one being cheaper than others. We know from experience that using a hotel can be more amenable than staying in an airbnb.


Hotels are often in more convenient locations that can be accessed easily. Whereas airbnbs can be in all kinds of far-off places and certainly won’t be listed on any tourist map… you can be led astray when booking an airbnb due to misleading titles and location information, but hotels will always show their actual address, meaning it’s much easier to choose somewhere in a central location.

Price vs Added Extras

Whilst airbnbs are mostly cheaper than most hotels in a 4 or 5 star range, you’re getting certain amenities when you stay in a hotel that airbnbs can’t provide. Are you looking for a gym, pool or rooftop bar where you can meet other travellers? You’re better off staying in a hotel or a hostel , where these are likely to be available. Are brand new sheets, air-conditioning a priority? Hotels are likely to work better for you.

On the other hand, staying in an Airbnb could work out if you are looking to build relationship with the host and learn about the area. Then again, there is nothing like being able to consult the concierge of a hotel who will know the local area and so can give you all the information to get around the area.

Finding the ‘right’ airbnb

The hard part is finding the appropriate Airbnb for you and the best located property. Most major cities have accepted Airbnb for short term lets, meaning that anyone with a property can list it as a ‘holiday home’. It doesn’t even need to be a property that they own and may just be a property that they sublet. This is clearly not necessarily a good thing. Take major cities like London or Paris, which have the highest number of airbnbs. Travelers looking to save some money might end up somewhere with no proper facilities, transport links or any hospitality to speak of.

Blame the Airbnb review system, which makes it difficult for users to write anything less than glowing reviews. We don’t know why guests can be more honest when it comes to reviewing a hotel. But something about visiting someone’s house, perhaps meeting the owners means that most if not all guests feel obliged to leave glowing reviews for what was just an ordinary stay in an average home with nothing to recopmmend it. A case in point is a stay in Ibiza. Whilst some reviews clearly indicate that the host is not a nice woman, the honest reviews are overwhelmed by the sycophantic reviews which somehow suggest that the host is the nicest woman ever, even whilst she can’t be because she has a list of things you can’t do that is as long as the property description. 

The negative effect that Airbnb has on local communities

Staying in airbnbs has shown me that not everyone has what it takes to be a good host. But what may be an even stronger reason not to use airbnbs is the effect they have on communities. If landlords think they can earn more renting out their rooms to overseas visitors ,rather than locals, they will do so. It then makes it harder for hotels – which have a beneficial relationship to communites – to, a, find guests, but also to pay the taxes and staff’s wages. This may ultimately be why it’s better to stay in hotels than airbnbs, especially in poorer countries which rely on foreign visitors to stay in hotels.

Legs Miss-behave in Bulgaria

VISITORS to Bulgaria will notice that alongside the Cyrillic alphabet, mashed carrot, and powerful rackia, the country is noted for its traditional yet glamorous women.

Although we will see women in Western Europe still sometimes wearing feminine dress, it’s more of a fashion statement as opposed to regular uniform, because the rules on dress have loosened considerably.

Typically, Bulgarian women dress in a noticeably more feminine way. That means typically longer hair, modest dress, and make-up. And it’s far more common that women in Bulgaria wear tights or stockings underneath their trousers and skirts, in all weathers. As in many countries, the ordained dress code for professional women has included strict guidelines for what women should wear to the office.

As in Japan, Spain,  Eastern Europe, Bulgarian women still dress in a more formal and professional way.

I wondered if there were other reasons why Bulgarian women are more likely to cover their legs. Was it the weather? I couldn’t discount it, although it was not particularly cold when I was there.

Was it because there are factories in the city where nylons and stockings are manufactured, making them more affordable than in other cities? That may be a more likely reason.

To try to understand the phenomenon more closely, I visited a small, kiosk in the city centre selling all manner of ladies hosiery. At around 6:30, the store was attended by an old, somewhat matronly lady of about 55. I was aware that my visit was greeted by some surprise, but I wasn’t put off from browsing through the various items on display.

There were dark, tan, and flesh coloured tights in various denier. In the end, I purchased the pair (*pictured below). Not knowing the word for stockings, I couldn’t exchange my purchase for what I really wanted. But it was a nice experience all the same. I imagined how it must feel to wear fabric that clung so sensuously close to the skin. To be aware of it and to be have to adjust it now and again, as women often did.

At the end of my trip, I was still not to sure if women really wore stockings more commonly, or it was just the ones I encountered that did. But it was true of various women I encountered. The expensively dressed glamazons entereing a state function in the government building definitely were wearing stockings or tights (an expert would be able to tell either way). And the last Bulgarian women to really impress me, could well have been wearing stockings under her official airport uniform – if only she hadn’t been behind a desk.

And so, I came away from my trip with a greater appreciation for the women I had met, if only for a very short period of time.

Planning a rewarding trip to Bangkok

How to make the most of a holiday in Thailand’s bustling capital city.

Plan your itinerary

Make sure you have an idea of which areas you want to visit before you go. For example, Bangkok is massive and a short trip will only let you do so much. Choose an area you are most interested in, and plan your stay accordingly.

Choose a hotel in a suitable area

Find a centrally located hotel with easy access to the city’s attractions. This is the best way to explore the city. Pick busy Sukhumvit if you are interested in shopping, nightlife and contemporary design.

Or alternatively staying close to the river gives you easy to the city’s cultural highlights like the reclining Buddha and Wat Arun. 

Choose your budget. 

Are you a backpacker? Bangkok has dozens of affordable hostels, and they tend to be in the slightly more interesting, gritty parts of the city. On the other hand, hotels along Sukumvit of course have better connections to the transport links. You get much more for your money out of the centre, and these areas come with the city’s most affordable places to eat. A luxury hotel will be comfortable but will put you at a distance from other travellers and can be isolating. Then again, staying in a dorm means less privacy and comfort. 

How much do you want to do?

A day trip with careful planning can include, a visit to the royal palace in the morning, A floating island in the afternoon, then dinner and a show or clubbing in the evening, but you won’t have the energy to do that every day.

Are you here for the red light shows?

Then avoid certain areas and choose a place to stay with access to cheaper hotels, massage and go-go bars, such as Silom.

You can easily avoid the Red Light district, however, others will want to plan their entire trip around it.

If you are on a family trip, think about the places which are suitable for children. Bangkok has parks, zoos, and resorts where children can play happily.

Learn Thai. 

Take the time to learn the beginner phrases in Thai, making it easier to get around and be understood. 

The great big Instagram LIE

Near the end of that amazing book by the writer and chef Eddie Huang, he talks about his idea of a neighbourhood restaurant.

Im going to paraphrase here but the essence of a neighbourhood place is one where everyone is welcome. you don’t need to buy anything , and you especially don’t need to make a purchase in order to use the wifi. In other words, the young who often don’t have Money would still be welcome to come in to a neighbourhood joint, because there are so few other options for them. Huang’s sense of generosity is not limited to the customers. He expects his staff to leave him and get better Jobs. Sadly in the real world we don’t put these selfless ideas in to practice. Not only do we expect to have to pay for things that should be free, we are expected to look up to people who go to all these supposedly cool places for free and get paid to promote them to people like you. I’ll save what I think about Instagram for another post. What I’ll say here is I’m tired of people being made to feel they’re not good enough because they haven’t been to some restaurant, or bar, that’s overrated anyway… It’s not only women who do this, although it’s easier for women to simply use their image to get paid to sit around in a Jacuzzi.

Lets face it, these women are getting paid, and if you think I’m lying, when was the last time you saw a typical Instagrammer simply doing something nice for somebody else, not because it was for money, or for more followers, just because they could help someone who maybe doesn’t have the same high-level public image that they are fortunate to have themselves. You can be sure I’m not bitter about this.

The truth is, I can remember when I couldn’t get a date. If you don’t have money, it’s going to be really hard to get a girl interested in you. Then when I was thirty I was finally able to take women out, but we could only share a dinner somewhere or maybe just have a starter each and then leave. As quaint and funny as that sounds, I’d have loved to have been able to do more with women at that time. Being poor is romanticised by people who have money but I’ll be honest it’s really not that much fun.

Hot Girl Supper Podcast

Howdy folks. You have come across two talented Asian women on Instagram showcasing their cooking skills and restaurant visits. These two women are Verna Gao and Ngygen Yeats-Brown

As well as sharing their Asian revcipes and cooking skills, these two have more recently been sharing their views on everything from first dates to friends with benefits. 

The podcast has a definite female slant, but it’s still well worth listening to if you’re a man. 

Let’s have a listen now.

AS you can hear, these two have a great chemistry between them. They boince off each other and have an amazing simpatico. The fact is that it’s rare even now to hear women, let alone Asian women, speak directly about dating and relationships. I have enjoyed all of their podcasts. They keep things interesting for the whole running time and it sounds like they didn’t even need to have a script for things to be interesting. 

Maybe they will be a little too sassy for some people not used to hearing women speaking frankly. There;s a lot of stuff they talk about that honeslyt, I had no idea was even an issue for women, it’s helpful to get an honest female perspective on things. 

I fell like they do want to be seen as very confdidnt and empowered women, especially when they talk about the ‘creeps’ who approach them . At the same time, they occasionally let their vulnerability come through and that’s when the podcast is most edifying.  However, I love hearing what they have to say and I would love to have them as friends. They are the funniest people I haven’t met in real life.\

Thailand is back open for foreign tourists

After two years, Thalailand is fully open for international travellers.

The country has seen most of its famous landmarks closed to tourists, but it now looks as though the country is ready to welcome tourists with open arms.

Before April 2022, the requirement for international tourists was that they needed to show a negative PCR test before arrival. However, this can be done and it is necessarily required to get ‘Thailand Pass’. All applicants using the ‘Test and Go Scheme’ must upload several documents to apply for Thailand Pass QR Code. (a copy of passport / insurance certification with a minimum coverage of USD 20,000 / vaccination certificate / the payment confirmation of SHA Extra+ hotels which also includes the receipt of a pre-paid COVID-19 RT-PCR test on day 1, ATK self-test on day 5-6 and airport transfer.) Plus, all tourists are required to upload their RT-PCR and ATK self-test results to the Thailand Travel Pass app (called ‘Morchana’).

It’s great to be back!

(According to official information, tourists will get ATK self-test instead of RT-PCR after arrival from May 2022. The price for tests will be reduced).

The beautiful Royal Cliff Beach Resort

We spent one night in the government approved quarantine hotel, and after that we were free to travel to Pattaya. As you can see, the hotel was comfortable and didn’t present any hardship.

The comfortable bed where we spent a single night of quarantine before we were free to travel in Pattaya.

Airlines have seen increased booking to the country and flights are expected to increase for the summer season.

The resort we stayed in in Pattaya was doing a good trade and we are happy to announce that mask-wearing was not enforced, even in the busy nightclubs.

One of the many bars doing a roaring trade, in post-Covid Pattaya.

This time I visited was Songkran which is one of the most famous festivals in the world. The airlines and hotels have seen increased booking to the country and they are expected to increase for this season. I’ve expected many activities throughout Thailand (especially Sprinkling water!!) but it stopped because of pandemic. The festival usually involves some pretty wild water fights – with people getting crazy – but it was not allowed this year.

I Stayed at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, and Cape Dara Beach Front Resort. There were few foreigners stayed, mostly local people celebrated Thai New Year.

We Stayed at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, and Cape Dara Beach Front Resort.

I participated in a salsa club in Pattaya

I’ve visited here 4 years ago before the pandemic. The streets were so crowded; full of tourists and most shops were busy day and night, but I could see some stores were ruined because of the shutdown order that was issued due to COVID-19.

You can see how people have ignored the rules on mask-wearing.

The resorts we stayed in Pattaya were doing a good trade and I am happy to announce that mask-wearing was not enforced, even in the busy nightclubs. It looks like the care-free travel days of the pre-covid era are becoming a reality again.

Article idea by Puruna Jo. Photography by Puruna Jo.

For more information on planning a trip to Thailand, visit Fanclub Thailand.

How to kiss a girl in a way that she has never been kissed before

The first kiss doesn’t need to be perfect; however, its shouldn’t be bad. An impeccable timing, a great environment, perfect movements, and subtle gestures create an ideal kiss. How to kiss a girl? Before I provide you with the ways to make a perfect kiss, you must ensure the timing. It would be best if you weren’t too quick to kiss a girl into a relationship but be sure not to do it too soon. Ensure the timing is right and that your girl does not stop the kiss. When you’re certain, this is the case, apply the best way to do it and make her want more.

Get Ready

If you’re hoping to get kissed, make sure that your mouth is suitable for kissing. Before leaving home, make sure you stop at the bathroom and get your mouth ready. Make sure to clean your teeth in order to eliminate any leftovers from your lunch and freshen up your breath. A bit of mouthwash is never a bad thing either. Women love men with beards, but they don’t want their mouths full of beards when they get the kiss.

Remove your beard of any stray hairs, and make sure that you don’t have any hanging on your lips. Manage the tangle using beard oil and observe as your hands float up for an experience. Make sure that your lips feel soft and moisturized by applying balm to your lips. Nothing can hinder a kiss more than chapped, dry lips. It is the best way to make kissing much more pleasurable for both of you.

Make Your Lips Nice, Soft, And Kissable

Lips with cracks are not just unpleasant, and they also cause irritation or discomfort to your kissee’s lips. If your lips appear dry or chapped, take a moment to moisturize them. It’s not necessary to overdo it, but be sure to do a quick examination before your date. This will help you significantly how to lead up to it.

It’s probably a good idea to avoid using perfumed lip balms as a girl typically doesn’t expect her man’s lips to smell vanilla, strawberry, or peach. But, it’s certainly not the most unpleasant thing that could happen and may cause some conversations after the kiss.

Make Sure She Wants To Kiss You

The process of obtaining permission to kiss someone isn’t an option lightly, and it is what a girl likes, considering kissing someone else’s body can be very uncomfortable (which is why it’s thrilling). If it’s done correctly, everybody has a wonderful time. So, how do you obtain permission? There are two methods to get permission: that is to ask her in your own words to kiss them. Another is to determine from their body language if they are interested in being kissed before “offering” one to them.

Use Your Hands

If you are bending your head to hug your girl and you get the kisses returned gracefully, the hands should be involved in making the experience more enjoyable. Keep her close to let her know that you are the person you want to be with and remain in the proper posture, and gently rub her shoulders as well as her face and body or perhaps hold her in your arms when you are both standing in a seated position. This can elevate the experience to the next stage. This is how she wants to be kissed by a man.

Do not be the guy who kisses too hard and intimately. Body intimacy is essential in a kiss, particularly when you feel that you want to be intimate and not just a normal kiss but rather be soft when you do it. The neck, below her jawbone, beneath the earlobe, around the nose tip, collarbone, as well as forehead and shoulder are other important areas to kiss a girl. Or gently kiss with your soft palms while placing your lips on hers.


Now you are able to kiss with confidence and how to begin your kissing journey and attract a girl’s attention as you go about it. But knowing how you can kiss someone is only half the challenge. It is essential to practice and practice it. Therefore, go ahead and approach someone you love, have a try at flirty with her, and begin to make your way into the kissing scene!

Madison Beer Life Support Tour

After waiting seven years, Madison released her album Life Support in 2021.. .Although the album has had mixed responses from critics, it’s clear from watching the 23 year old live that there Is more to her than just a social media personality. The star gave a personal, yet melodramatic performance full of heartbreak and some sexuality, that was truly adored by her largely teenage fanbase.

The singer’s set design included an LED frame to allow the singer to be transported across the stage. For the first song BABY, Madison leaned forward in the frame and was backed by two dancers who were wearing similar tight bustier style lace outfits.

The lighting was neon blues and pinks that sometimes made it hard to see the singer. And there was plenty of drama from the projected imagery, some of it using video footage form her songs, and printed lyrics that were shown as diary entries.  Most of the songs came from her major album release, Life Support. The opening number was BABY, which had the crowd belting out the sexually confident lyrics. Stained glass was so powerful, and the singer came into her own on that track, really exuding a rock -star stage presence. Another major track was the moving ‘Reckless’. How could you be so Reckless with my heart? The singer cried , yet as the song reached its finale she was more vengeful, inviting the audience to sing the line ‘I hope you both go to hell.’

What else? There was the futuristic sounding ‘Follow the White Rabbit’; the singer performed it with a rabbit ear gesture. The song ‘Boyshit’, surely one of her best, was near the end. There were so many perfect moments: the songs from the album that mean so much to her fans were all breathlessly belted out by the crowd. They are mostly three minutes or less – here the signer used a background track instead of her band; there was no doubting the signer’s power and vocal range. The concert finished with a beautiful eruption of white confetti. And then the signer was gone, but she lighted the audience by coming out on stage to dance along to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

We are witnessing a genuine new talent.

Rob in Japan’s Guide to Kumamoto

On the Southern island of Kyushu,Kumamoto is a city in Japan. It’s mostly rural and there are many beautiful sights to visit. Most people who have heard about the city know about the Kumamoto Bear, a mascot created to draw tourists to the region when the Shinkansen opened in 2010.

This loveable character has been seen countless times, thanks to free licensing rights that mean the image can be used as long as it promotes the area, and in fact the bear is the most popular mascot in Japan.

Some souvenirs from Kumamoto Prefecture.

You can buy all kinds of snacks for souvenirs in the shops. As it is for other cities, everything is impressively packaged and the service is first class, as you would expect.

Mount Kinbo

The mountain in Kumamoto is an extinct caldera volcano; it still smokes but does not erupt. It’s perfect for a day of sightseeing!

Kumamoto Castle

Considered to be one of three most important castles in Japan. In truth, it looks the same as any castle you will find all over Japan.


Kumamoto is famous for ramen. It’s not as greasy as Hokkaido ramen, and includes sliced garlic and sesame oil.

Kumamoto Ramen

Getting there

Fly to Fukuoka, the largest city in the region, and travel by bus or train to Kumamoto.