Category Archives: China Stories

The Famous Doctor Ho

The Famous Doctor Ho of Lijiang, 1921-2018. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Unable to sleep (damn this insomnia,) I woke up and checked my email to find that the Famous Doctor Ho has, as the Naxi people of Yunnan, China say, “Gone to the Mountain.” 

I wrote about the good doctor for a guidebook I did for Lonely Planet. Later, I wrote a story called The Famous Doctor Ho that I put in my illustrated book of short stories, How Not to Avoid Jet Lag. In honor of the good doctor, I present the story here.

May he raconteur eternally among the celestial scholars!

The Famous Doctor Ho

The Famous Doctor Ho. Illustration by David Lee Ingersoll

The Famous Doctor Ho. Illustration by David Lee Ingersoll

Doctor Ho is a famous Chinese herbalist and physician whose fame is like a perpetually rolling snowball inside of which lies a frozen dwarf clad in bondage gear.

Who put that dwarf in there? Why is he wearing bondage gear? Who started the ball rolling?

Like this metaphorical snowball, a visit with Doctor Ho provokes a series of questions better left unanswered.

Every casual traveler to the outskirts of Lijiang has visited Doctor Ho. And every China-based writer who’s so much as mastered rudimentary use of chopsticks has, at some point, written about him. And this is why Doctor Ho is the most written about Chinese doctor in all the world.

He is also the most talked about Chinese Doctor in all the world, but this is largely because he talks about himself so very much.

About ten minutes into my visit with Doctor Ho it occurred to me that I was a character — played in my imagination by Steve Buscemi-in a Coen Brothers film, with Doctor Ho’s son played by Billy Bob Thornton.

Doctor Ho, of course, played himself.

(Author’s note: the following dialogue is a rough approximation, and should not be taken in any way to be “journalism.”
Also, the long series of periods preceding most of Doctor Ho’s dialogue is meant to indicate actual dialogue that I’m not even going to try to recall, but if I did, would be roughly along the same lines as the dialogue that follows. If you like, you can imagine Doctor Ho saying more things about himself, various permutations of “I am the most famous Chinese doctor in the world,” etc., etc.
However, it’s important to note that the three periods after Doctor Ho’s Son’s dialogue are, in fact, ellipses, meant to indicate Doctor Ho’s son’s actual dialogue, which mostly consisted of a brief summary of his father’s previous sentence.)

I am sitting in a plastic chair, and Doctor Ho and his son are standing in front of me, relating something reminiscent of the following dialogue:

DOCTOR HO
…I study English with Joseph Rock. It is he who told me to become a doctor. In 1994, Mike Wallace came to visit me. Here is an article from a magazine about me.

DOCTOR HO’S SON
(handing me a yellowing magazine article wrapped in plastic)
Magazine article about my father…

DOCTOR HO
…Taoist physician in the Jade Dragon Mountains of Lijiang. Mister Bruce Chatwin write this about me in his book.

DOCTOR HO’S SON
(handing me photocopy of article wrapped in plastic)
Mister Bruce Chatwin…

DOCTOR HO
…In 2001, film crew from Canada come to make documentary about the Famous Doctor Ho. Also have a newspaper journalist, write story for Globe and Mail.

DOCTOR HO’S SON
(handing me photocopy of article wrapped in plastic)
Globe and Mail…

DOCTOR HO
…In 65 years I have treated over 100,000 patients, never charging money. Only donation. I am poor, but happy. Happy is most important. American Medical Association has written a paper about me.

DOCTOR HO’S SON
(handing me photocopy of article wrapped in plastic)
American Medical Association…

DOCTOR HO
…Also Englishman, Michael Palin. Television program with BBC, come to visit me in, 2003, 2004 maybe.

ME
(trying to be clever, interjecting what would be my only line in the whole scene after initial introduction)
…Michael Palin!

It went on like this for close to an hour. After it was over, I went into Doctor Ho’s back room, where he felt my pulse and looked at my tongue (or was it the other way around?) and made as reasonable a diagnosis of my current condition as any good herbalist might.

DOCTOR HO
You aren’t sleeping well, and this is making your immune system weak. I’ll prepare some herbal medicine for you to take with you.

(Doctor Ho putters around the shelves of his apothecary mixing this powder with that before giving me a fairly large bundle wrapped in cloth.)

DOCTOR HO
Drink lots of water with this.

He didn’t ask me for any money, but I felt it best to donate a red Mao hundred yuan note.

He was, after all, a famous doctor.


The Famous Doctor Ho is one of 19 illustrated stories from How Not to Avoid Jet Lag and other tales of travel madness, available through this link.

 

Memoirs of a Dog Meat Man

Author’s Note: Outside of my work for Beijing Scene in 1999, Memoirs of a Dog Meat Man was probably my first serious bit of journalism. The brief backstory is that in 1998 I was hired by a company called Cal Safety Compliance to act as a compliance inspector, i.e., Sweatshop Inspector in factories in Taiwan, HK and China. It was an emotionally grueling job, and I lasted less than a year.

Eventually, I went slightly mad and floated around SE Asia for a couple of months before winding up in Beijing to work for Beijing Scene Magazine (where my writing career really started).

In 2000 I was back in the USA, writing for a couple of local magazines in Colorado, and felt like I had the chops to try to get my sweatshop story in front of a wider audience.

I pitched Dog Meat Man to The Nation and was surprised when they commissioned it from me for a whopping $300 bucks. I wrote the story you’re about to read for The Nation in the middle of the year, and though the editor who’d commissioned it swore up and down that she loved it, for whatever reason The Nation kept delaying publication. About a year later, the editor wrote me to tell me it didn’t look like the story would run at all, but she encouraged me to float it around elsewhere. (They still paid me, which was nice.)

So I sent it to an online publication called The Albion Monitor, who ran it with one change. The Editor of the Monitor (who’d I’d go on to write many more stories from China for in the coming years) liked the story. However, he felt that my original title “Memoirs of a Dog Meat Man”, which was inspired by the Chinese phrase 挂羊头卖狗肉 (“Hang sheep’s head sell dog meat”) was a bit too obscure and changed it to the somewhat more direct “Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector”. The article eventually found its way into some academic publications, about which I’m quite proud, and I got letters about it for a few years.

The Albion Monitor continued publishing until the mid-2000’s, but they’ve kept the website up for posterity. This article is still online (as Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector). 

Otherwise, this is the original article. Unlike much of my earlier stuff, I’ve resisted the temptation to re-edit this article (except for including a few new sub-headers). I think it’s still pretty good after all these years.


sweatshop badgeHalfway over the Pacific, it dawns on me that I have no idea what my job is.
It’s October 15, 1998, and twelve hours ago, I was in the southern California offices of an independent monitoring company that inspects factories for safety violations and human rights abuses throughout the world. I had been hired over the phone a few days before. My sole qualification for the job? I speak Chinese and have a friend already working for the company. I assumed that there would be some sort of lengthy training process to teach me how to be a human rights inspector. There wasn’t.

Arriving in Los Angeles, I’m taken to Denny’s by another inspector, then back to the office, where I putter around for a few hours before being driven back to the airport to catch my plane to Taiwan. I tell my manager that I feel a bit unprepared for the task ahead.

“Don’t worry, you’ll do fine,” he tells me, handing me a suitcase full of folders containing the names and addresses of 23 factories in Taiwan and $26 a day for meals.

“You’ll meet your partner in Taiwan, he’ll show you the ropes,” he says, passing me the company handbook. “You can learn about OSHA regulations and the manufacturers’ codes of conduct on the airplane.”

First Day on the Job

My partner’s name is John, but everybody calls him Heart Attack. I find him sprawled on the floor of our Taipei hotel room early the next morning. Pieces of reports, violation sheets and photographs of factories are scattered over the floor. John is rooting through the mess, whining that he’d been awakened by a call from Marty at 4AM, something about a “failure to assess back wages in Saipan.” Heart Attack looks extremely tense. “Back wages, John,” he babbles in a mocking falsetto. “Assess the back wages, don’t forget the back wages.” I introduce myself, telling him I’m to be his partner, and he’s supposed to train me. He looks up at me, eyes wide with loathing.

“Training you?! Me? They’re going to fire me over this Saipan thing, but first they want me to train my own replacement, right? I’m not going to dig my own grave, no thanks!”

Things are tense, and I haven’t even dropped my suitcase yet. I try to defuse the situation by offering to buy him a cup of coffee in the hotel lobby, assuring him that I know nothing about Saipan, or of any plans to fire him. Heart Attack seems to relax.

“Sorry about that,” he says, getting up to shake my hand. “Nobody trained me to assess back wages, you know.”

Not even knowing what he means by “back wages,” I nod dumbly. I’m to spend the next two weeks learning how to be an inspector from Heart Attack. Despite his apparent neurosis, he has the instincts of a bloodhound and proves himself an excellent inspector. On the job just over three months at the time, he’s already considered a veteran at the company.

“This company has a turnover rate higher than most burger joints,” he warns me over coffee.

Learning from Heart Attack

I’m learning from Heart Attack how this business works. Inspectors go into factories all over the world looking for signs of worker exploitation, egregious safety violations, child labor and quota violations. We are paid by our clients, major manufacturers whose stores and products are household names. On a good day, our company earns thousands of dollars from a few international inspections. The inspectors themselves are paid minimal hourly wages, with no benefits. Inspectors are expected to work 70-hour weeks and to be on call 24 hours a day for calls from the L.A. office. The worse a factory is, the more often inspectors are sent, and the more money the company makes.
My first day on the job, Heart Attack and I perform two surprise inspections. The first factory is a re-audit of a factory producing goods for Kmart.

“Man, the last guy they sent really botched this inspection,” Heart Attack says. “Look at this report.” The report is for an inspection performed a year ago. It’s written so generically that the writer could easily have been describing half of the medium-sized cookware factories in Taiwan. The factory had been given a low-risk assessment, ending with the often-used line, “The inspector was unable to find any violations that would be considered a risk at this medium-sized factory.” I think that maybe we were at the wrong facility because the one we are in is an unmistakable hellhole — a dark basement factory with poor ventilation and dangerous equipment. There’s no first-aid kit, and the fire extinguishers expired around the same time as Chiang Kai-shek.

We interview the workers. They tell me they’re paid only half of what they had been promised by contract, and one of the Thai workers confides in me that he wants to run away, but the boss keeps all his documents locked in a safe. I ask them why they didn’t tell this to the last inspector, and they stare at me blankly.

“A foreigner visited last year, but he didn’t talk to us. Was he from your company?”

I bring these problems up to the factory manager, and he looks at me as if I’m insane.

“What problem?!” the manager says. “The last guy say everything OK! I sign paper, he leave! Why you bother me again!?” Later I call into our office and ask a manager just how the previous inspector could have given this sweatshop a low-risk rating. “That guy didn’t work out,” I’m told.

A few days later, Heart Attack and I are in central Taiwan, and I’m learning a lot more about the business. There seems to be an absolute lack of consistency in the attitudes of inspectors working for us.

“Everybody has their own focus,” John tells me. “Like, there are some who I call eye-wash inspectors. They can go into the worst factory in China and head straight for the first-aid kit. They’ll ignore all of the other violations, and write three paragraphs in their report about how there was no eye-wash in the kit. Then they come back home and brag about how they can do five factories a day.” I ask him why these eye-wash inspectors don’t get fired for incompetence. He smirks and rubs his thumb and forefinger together in the universal symbol for payola. “This company cares about quantity, not quality,” John says. We approach the factory, a place producing belt buckles for Calvin Klein. The facility has been under inspection for quite some time, and not by slacking eye-wash inspectors. This place has been thoroughly raked over.

Damning Violations

“Look at this last report!” Heart Attack hands me the previous inspection team’s violation list. It has some pretty damning violations:

  • Dangerous metal-melting chemicals being mixed in vats by workers wearing flip-flop sandals;
  • Overtime not being paid at legal rate;
  • Imported workers denied access to their passports
  • 90 hour work weeks

There is a tacit agreement that what we write in our reports will be read by the manufacturers, who are supposed to pull out of those factories found to be continually in violation of their codes of conduct. Were this truly the case, we would not even be here: This factory has been on the high-risk list for two years. I ask Heart Attack if he thinks the client will pull out of this factory soon, and he snorts derisively.

“We’ve been here five times already, and every time the factory gets a high risk,” says Heart Attack. “Calvin Klein won’t pull out of this factory until we find 9 year-olds chained to arc welders and strung out on speed. The boss knows that we’re only paper tigers.” Nonetheless, I try to convince the boss to mend his ways. Heart Attack is a crude man, a rare breed of sinophile, able to speak Chinese without an ounce of Chinese manners.

I, on the other hand, have spent much of my adult life in Asia. I understand the use of polite shaming. I appeal to the boss’s sense of patriotism and reputation.

“News crews might come here one day,” I tell him, switching from Mandarin Chinese to the native Taiwanese dialect. “The poor conditions we’ve found here might cause a loss of face to both you and the Taiwanese business community. Mainlanders will look at you and tell the world that the Taiwanese have no heart.”

The boss nods politely, promises to make the improvements suggested in our report and invites us to have dinner with him. We decline, explaining that it goes against our own company’s code of conduct. We are forced to give this factory yet another high-risk rating. The owner signs our findings sheet without a glance.

Two weeks after our swing through Taiwan began, Heart Attack and I are trying to get all our reports in before returning to America. We have been awake for 30 hours straight. He tells me we’ve had a successful trip. Of the 23 factories on our list, we found 22 of them and were only denied access to one. Tallying up our profit and loss sheet, we figure that we’ve earned the company more than $20,000 in profit. I’ve been working 13-hour days for two weeks, and am looking forward to reaching San Francisco for some R&R.

While I am excited by my new job, I’m beginning to wonder just whose needs I’m serving. Am I helping the industry clean up its dirty laundry, or just to bury it a little further from the noses of the American consumer?

Going to China

November 15, 1998

There is a long trench with imposing razor ribbon fences on either side, and one bridge running across it. This is the path that leads from Hong Kong to China. This is where I’ll be spending the next three weeks.

It’s my second trip as a sweatshop inspector and my first trip into mainland China. Before leaving the office in L.A., one of the senior inspectors took me aside and told me that “no factory in China should ever get a low-risk rating.” It was explained to me that all factories in China were so far against the clients’ stated codes of conduct that if one were to be given anything other than a high-medium risk, whoever reviewed the report in the office would assume the on-site inspector hadn’t really looked. I naively asked him why we even bothered inspecting factories if we knew that they’d fail; the senior inspector looked at me like I was nuts.

It is also the first trip for my Hong Kong partner, Jack Li. Despite the fact that I’ve been on the job for only one month, I will be training him. Before I leave the office, I’m given a chunk of cash to pay Jack’s salary. His pay is half of my own, with no overtime pay. His per diem food allowance is $6 less than mine. How ironic, going overseas to uncover disparity in the workplace while committing it myself on my employer’s behalf.

I feel disgusted with myself, and decide to split the difference of our per diems between us.

Jack and I inspect a typical Chinese factory a couple of days later. We find almost every violation in the book. The workers are pulling 90-hour weeks. The place has no fire extinguishers or fire exits and is so jammed full of material that a small fire could explode into an inferno within a minute. There are no safety guards on the sewing machines, and the first-aid box holds only packages of instant noodles. Most of the workers are from the inland provinces, so I conduct the employee interviews in Mandarin while leaving Jack to grill the owners in Cantonese.

With the bosses out of earshot, I fully expect the workers to pour out their sorrows to me, to beg me to tell the consumers of America to help them out of their misery. I’m surprised at what I hear.

“I’m happy to have this job,” is the essence of what several workers tell me. “At home, I’m a drain on my family’s resources. But now, I can send them money every month.”

I point out that they make only $100 a month; they remind me this is about five times what they can make in their home province. I ask if they feel like they’re being exploited, having to work 90 hours a week. They laugh.

“We all work piece-rate here. More work, more money.”

The worst part of the day for them, it seemed, was seeing me arrive. “I don’t want to tell you anything because you’ll close my factory and ruin any chances I have at having a better life one day,” one tells me.

I ask if they feel like they’re being exploited, having to work 90 hours a week. They laugh

Jack and I tell the owner that she needs to buy fire extinguishers, put actual first-aid supplies in the first-aid kits, install safety equipment on the sewing machines, and reduce worker hours to below 60 per week. We figure if she takes care of the first two tasks, we’ve helped to make the world a slightly less ugly place.

The Dog Meat Men

It’s too late to hit another factory, so we sit down for some tea with the owner. We’ve just finished faulting her for just about every health, safety, and payroll violation in the book, but she remains an excellent host.

“Thank you for caring so much about our poor Chinese factory workers,” she tells us. “But really, it’s all about profit. If I paid my workers more money, I’d have to raise the price to my buyers, the people who are sending you here to inspect my factory. Do you think they would accept that?”

I try to explain to her that a new consciousness is developing among American consumers and that all of the American garment producers are trying their best to clean up their factories.

Gua yang tou, mai gou rou,” she replies, quoting an old Chinese proverb.

Translated: “Hang a sheep head but serve dog meat.”

“Calvin Klein, Wal-mart, Kathie Lee: They all want the same thing. Chinese labor, the cheaper the better,” she smiles, pouring the tea. “They all want to project a smiling face, to appear to be caring and compassionate, because that makes people feel better about buying the products that have their names.

“But we both know that all they care about is money,” she continues. “If I did all the things you told me to do, my clothing would become more expensive to the manufacturers. Then they would just use a cheaper factory, one in Vietnam or someplace even less regulated than China.”

Finally, it hits me. I understand why my employer doesn’t care if we do a good job or not. We aren’t here to help change anything; we’re only a PR prophylactic. Hiring an industry-friendly “independent” inspection company is the most cost-effective way for the manufacturers to maintain their profits while claiming to care about the people on whose sweat their profits depend.

Jack and I finish our tea, thank the owner for her hospitality, and head back to our hotel,  just a couple of sheep heads working for the dog-meat man.


Memoirs of a Dog Meat Man ran originally as Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector at the Albion Monitor, 9/1/2001. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Inspector Heart Attack, please contact the author at josambro AT gmail.com.

Cold War Cuisine

Artist: David Lee Ingersoll

My photographer is surrounded by waitresses wearing starch-pressed uniforms. They are grabbing his camera, repeating “no photos” in halting Mandarin. The editor and his girlfriend hang by the entrance, clearly regretting their decision to join the magazine’s newest writer on his first restaurant review.

An aura of fear hangs in the air. Our dog meat soup has yet to arrive.

Welcome to the Pyongyang BBQ, the only North Korean eatery in Beijing.

I attempt to sooth the desperate waitresses, telling them that we are fellow workers, comrades. Harsh stares penetrate the barbecue smoke from the neighboring table, and there is some quick chatter in a Korean dialect few Americans will ever hear. She shoots a glance that puts ice in my bowels.

“America?”

It is both question and accusation.

I wrack my brain. What country would be least offensive to North Korean sensibilities?

“Iceland.”

Their moon-faces soften slightly. There is more chatter in the North Korean dialect.

“You may photograph the dishes,” one says. “No faces.”

We agree that strict anonymity will be maintained.

Our menu is produced, a black folder with numerous plastic sleeves holding hundreds of index cards on which are handwritten dish-names in Korean and Chinese. The Chinese characters are meaningless phonetic transliterations of the original Korean. There are neither pictures nor colorfully worded descriptions.

Such trivial details are for the bourgeois!

Our waitress hovers rigidly above our table, pencil impatiently tapping pad.

“Can you recommend some typical Korean dishes?” I ask.

She stiffens as if touched with a cattle prod, icy stare deepening.

“We are North Korean.” She corrects me before resuming her pad-tapping. We quickly order several dishes at random.

The first thing to arrive is the kimchi. I eagerly shove a chunk into my mouth, regretting it immediately.

“Is this your spiciest kimchi?” I ask, my face turning scarlet.

“Our second most spicy. We would not serve a foreigner our most spicy kimchi unless we wished them dead.”

These will be the kindest words she says all night.

More dishes arrive. My photographer is nowhere to be seen. I envision him hog-tied in the trunk of a car with diplomatic plates, racing towards the border.

Perhaps his insistence on photographing the North Korean opera blaring from the television was a bad move.

To hell with this restaurant. This review is over!

I get up as inconspicuously as possible, muttering something about needing the toilet and walk sideways like a crab towards the door, my eyes twitching from the smoke. I am about to bolt for freedom when I spot my photographer coming out of the kitchen.

“I was trying to chat up a prep chef, but he wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“What the hell did you expect? Shit, lower that camera before they crucify us. We have many, many dishes to get through.”

We return through the smoke to our table, blinded and choking as surely as if the bartender had detonated a tear gas grenade. My dining comrades are chatting, filtering the air through lit cigarettes.

I say something like “the meat…cough…is…cough…flavorful.”

They nod in agreement.

We are given a plate stacked high with tomato, onion and garlic, all of it raw. We cannot figure out how to cook it on our table without having it fall through the grill, and wind up shoveling it into our mouths uncooked. This turns out to be good practice for the next dish, small bowls filled with raw chopped beef. A raw egg has been cracked in each bowl.

I ask the waitress how it the dish is best enjoyed. She takes my bowl and mixes it until it becomes a glutinous meat paste.

“Eat,” she commands.

The oily mixture slides down my throat like a wad of meat-flavored phlegm. I surreptitiously slide the bowl across the table: best to save my appetite for the restaurant’s apparent specialty, the pot of dog meat soup that the waitress has just placed on our table. Our request for bowls are ignored, so we eat straight from the pot.

Dog meat is a dark pungent meat with a somewhat stringy texture. It is said to be a warming meat with yang-strengthening properties, equally good for cold winter days or long passion-filled nights. Try to ignore the theme to Lassie which will inevitably run through your head while you eat.

There is very little at the Pyongyang BBQ for the vegetarian to enjoy. The editor’s girlfriend refused to even touch her chopsticks. She fled from the table when the raw beef came out and did not return. We ordered a spicy cold noodle dish that never arrived. We got a small dish which we didn’t order, a plate of two kinds of glutinous cakes. I assumed that this was dessert, and ate a piece expecting it to be sweet. It tasted like sawdust and had the texture of hardening denture paste.

How does one explain the difference between excellent dog meat soup and dog meat soup that is merely mediocre? The Pyongyang BBQ restaurant calls for a different review metric entirely, and in this metric the restaurant earns high marks in all categories. Cuisine is clearly authentically North Korean and earns four stars. Ambiance hearkens back to China’s bygone days of constant paranoia, earning again four stars. And service is as good as you’d expect in Pyongyang, so four stars again.

Pyongyang BBQ is a restaurant that fulfills the needs of a worker’s state. It is not a good place to take a skittish first date. Do not harangue the wait-staff with petty questions. Keep your nationality to yourself. Avoid “Pyongyang Star,” the North Korean National Beer — it’s vile.

Return at reasonably spaced intervals. The Permanent Revolution is best enjoyed in small doses.


Cold War Cuisine ran originally in Beijing Scene Magazine, Summer 1999.

Want to read more stories like these? Order How Not to Avoid Jet Lag ~ Nineteen stories from the increasingly deranged mind of travel Writer Joshua Samuel Brown, with illustrations by David Lee Ingersoll.

Click here for the Kindle Version (Amazon)

Click Here for all other E-book formats. (Smashwords)

 

How Not to Avoid Jet Lag

Nineteen tales ranging from new journalism to exotic hallucination.

Click here for the Kindle Version (Amazon)

Click Here for all other E-book formats. (Smashwords)

How Not to Avoid Jet Lag Nineteen stories from the increasingly deranged mind of travel Writer Joshua Samuel Brown, with illustrations by David Lee Ingersoll.

“I’ve often thought that guidebook writing attracts the mad, the bad and the slightly crazed. If he didn’t start that way – perhaps a pre-writing career as a bike messenger helped – his years on the road have certainly contributed to Joshua’s off-kilter take on the world.”
 – Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet Co-founder.

The unique aspect of How Not to Avoid Jet Lag… is the almost psychedelic feel to several of the narratives without clarification of what’s real and what’s not. For instance, in the story “The Worst Place in the World”, the author describes a trip to IKEA as “Distortion of the time/space continuum coupled with an overwhelming sense of despair as everyday items take on strange, menacing dimensions and reality becomes a grotesquely exaggerated nightmare from which only the passage of time offers release.” His “reality” becomes progressively more distorted and reminiscent of scenes from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Hayley Swinson, www.savvygirltravel.com

 

Click here to read more reviews at Amazon.com

Among the illustrated tales of travel writing, new journalism and straight up hallucination you’ll find in How Not to Avoid Jet Lag & Other Tales of Travel Madness are:

  • My Parents Are Little People, a story of the bizarre lengths a travel writer will go in pursuit of a hotel review;
  • Supper in Uyghurville, a gritty tale of menace, drugs and journalism from Beijing’s darkest hutong;
  • The Milky Teat of Serendipity, a hallucinatory flight of fancy featuring Singaporean Prime Ministers, Taiwanese presidents and a wandering goat-milk salesgirl;
  • The Worst Place in the World, strong contender for the “Travel story most likely to garner a cease and desist letter from Ikea” award.

Buy the Kindle Version (Amazon)

Click Here for all other E-book formats. (Smashwords)