Free eBook: The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel

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For today, my old historical eNovella is free on Amazon:

And don’t forget, the Kindle app is free as well.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Lotus-Mountain-Brothel-ebook/dp/B00JJUXZFE

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Pearl River Drama: A Memoir

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

 

I have now completed my memoirs, in eBook form.

You may be familiar with the Dating in China blogs already, but there’s more to the story…

I have decided to edit them, and put them out there as an eMemoir of sorts on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Yet, this is not just a simple copy-paste and proofread for typos. Since this version isn’t all out there online for free, I have written more to the story. Certain personal, more graphic details. Certain things left unsaid that would be unbecoming on a public forum.

Not to mention further chapter continuing where the blog left off, and an epilogue.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings this past year, you may enjoy taking a look. And if you’d like to write a review on Amazon yourself, I will happily forward you a copy!

Even if you only have fond memories of reading the previously-blogged edition and prefer to leave it at that, it would be very considerate if you shared some thoughts. Positive or negative, tell the world what you think. Link above.

Thanks very much to all you readers out there!

 

 

— —

When one nerdy, young American moved from California to China in the autumn of 2008, he had no idea what was coming. He knew there would be an adventure and it would have its challenges, but he didn’t know it could get that bad.

From the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, to the towering metropolis of Hong Kong, this memoir takes our humble writer all across the globe in search of love. Well, maybe not always searching for love, but in search for something.

It starts on a psychedelic trip in Burning Man, and continues in the “overnight city” of Shenzhen. That’s in the Pearl River Delta, among the densest megacities on Earth. In breakup after breakup, one lonely expat struggles to understand the Chinese mystique. Featuring an ensemble cast of international girls, he had many experiences and leaned a few lessons along the way. The story continues to further exotic locations: Beijing, Canton, Bangkok, Manila, Ohio, the ruins of Cambodia, and Seattle.

Once or twice, he may have even found love. And lost it. Hearts were broken. Minds were mended. All in a haze of romance encounters, online dating, and travel.

This is his story. Complete with travel photos, and quotations from “Seinfeld” and Mo Yan.

DATING IN CHINA

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DATING IN CHINA


(Table of Contents)

Firstly, from 2008 on:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

GUANGZHOU YEAR
In the city… the city of Canton…

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/
the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

Dating – Carmen, the Philippines

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Paradisio beach

Although 2013 was, let us say, a bit of a mess —

… it wasn’t all bad. One of the most positive things of that year was my correspondence with Carmen.

I’d been emailing her for months before we’d even made any plans to meet. She was a longtime penpal, someone I could share the updates of my life with, someone who would tell me of her challenges and experiences. Time permitting, I like having penpals and someone to write long letters to.

I first met her on OKCupid. For some reason, I thought she was in Shenzhen and her profile stood out to me. She’s not Chinese, I thought. Yes! The algorithms led me to her, led me to Manila…

We wrote long emails about mermaids and books and music and movies. We graduated to gmail and talked about our personal lives. It was nice; talking about my issues of the day and sharing and going over my various fandoms. It was so refreshing that she got the pop cultural stuff, that she was from a culture so relatable to my own. I must say, I would come to appreciate the American/Western influence on the Philippines.

Now, I’ve mentioned before how OkCupid never seemed to work for me. My theory is that the format of the profiles results in too much detail, and extensive lists of similar hobbies makes for more platonic friends rather than romantic attraction. The air of mystery from the vague profiles of that other sites always worked much better for me.

Carmen was the one and only ‘success’ story I’d ever made on OkCupid. I eventually deleted my profile there, and she will forever remain my OKC one and only.

Besides being fluent in English and familiar with my general music and tv shows, she was quite international. She’d been to America, even California specifically, and regularly goes to Hong Kong.

Beautiful exotic face. Tall, elegant. Literary. Worldly. Cool indie style as well. A bit Catholic, a bit family-oriented and relatively conservative compared to my mainland China scene these days, but that’s okay. All in all she seemed perfect.

And, get this, she worked as a journalist. A professional writer. A humble newspaper tagger, but she did often travel to foreign countries on writing assignments. How amazingly cool is that?!

One time I mailed her a fun gift: I was uprgrading iPod nanos and thought about what to do with my perfectly-good old generation made. So I decided to share all my favorite songs and made some customized playlists, and I mailed it to her. Although a sort of hand-me-down, I think that was about my greatest gift idea ever.

Finally, May Day holiday was was approaching and I decided to try to be serious serious and we planned a vacation. I bought a plane ticket to Manila. She helped set up everything else, and an itinerary was formed.

It was the first time I’d ever traveled so far to meet someone online, let alone going to another country to meet. The first time I was ever in Philippines, unless you count the airport transfer in my 2010 trip. Honestly, I was never particularly interested in the country. Sure I had some Filipino friends in California, I was aware of Jollibee. I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s historical novel Cryptonomicon. Beyond that, it wasn’t high on my list of Southeast Asia travel destinations. Yet destiny sent me there and I went for it with all my heart.

It’s always nervous to meet someone for the first time, and this was exacerbated by the pressures of travel and planning. I asked an old friend for advice; he had met a girl like this in Australia before. He gave me some solid talking to, and said not to force anything.

I packed. I prepared. I flew. Jetlagged, she we met for the first time outsideNinoy airport. It was somewhat weird. It was mostly chill. Ears popped, hearing all distorted, and one already feels surreal after landing. I do think it went well.

We took a taxi to the hotel. She had an American accent. It was pleasant, and felt natural, and we talked and talked and got to know each other better. We ate my favored Mexican food that evening. She even took me to comic shops! (I’m very impressed by Manila’s many English bookstores and comic shops, even better than Hong Kong. Not only that, but this perfect trip overlapped with freakin’ Free Comic Book Day.) What a keeper. I enjoyed Manila, the upper-class part anyway, because it was basically like America. That may be shallow of me but that’s the truth. The thing about the Philippines is that it is a mixed culture with a varied history of colonialism, and the influence today is clear.

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Free Comic Book Day

She lived with her family, as Catholic family-oriented Filipinas tend to do, and bounced back and forth from the hotel to her place. It felt natural to kiss for the first time, and then to become more intimate as the night progressed.

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Dating – Back to Shenzhen, China!

SAM_1062A symbolically-numbered birthday, lookin lame. Note long hair at the time

 

In February of 2012 I had been living in the megacity of Guangzhou (Canton) for one year. My search for companionship had yielded mixed results. I had a bit of fun, sure. But nothing ever seemed to turn substantial, and I was getting lonely.

That, and my favorite bar had closed down. In no hurry to leave China whatsoever – I’m still here for the long haul – I decided that the path of least resistance was to go back to Shenzhen. It was the city I knew best, the city I had people in, the city that’s next to Hong Kong (while simultaneously still a Mandarin-speaking insanely developing mainland locale). I just wanted to go back.

I went over and spent a day apartment-hunting. First I had some bad results from online recommendations, then I simply utilized those real estate office guys you see around, and I found the perfect flat in the middle of the city. I soon met the landlord, signed the lease, and went back to GZ that very night and moved in a week later.

It was the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. I stayed there are year-and-a-half, which is quite long for me. For whatever reasons, I tend to move a lot. About every year I get anxious and seek out a better place to live. Yet, so far, I haven’t found anything better that that amazing apartment. Sigh, I do miss that place.

It suited me. Unlike other places I’ve lived in China, it wasn’t too glamorous. The place had character. It was, of course, cheap. It was a one-bedroom and living room, roomier than those big one-rooms. The building had no elevator, but that’s okay I lived on the first floor. It was close enough to downtown, but just a bit outwards of Futian District in the quieter Meilin neighborhood. There was a subway station nearby with a line led directly to the Lok Ma Chau border to Hong Kong. And only a 30 yuan latenight taxi ride to the obvious weekend haunts of Coco Park. It had everything going for it.

I unpacked. I redecorated. Life went on. I got a gym membership in the area, I biked around and explored and discovered my new favorite restaurants. I celebrated my birthday with a few friends. I met new people and hung out with some Couchsurfers; with my conveniently-located new apartment I could host and invited more than a few travelers to stay with me.

My writing was kinda-maybe starting to take off, and I kept myself busy freelancing. I visited Guangzhou a few times, on assignment of sorts for a magazine. Mostly, I worked on my novel and slowly but surely I was to take that more seriously. It was a productive time in my life.

Oh, and I traveled to Taiwan. (I traveled to Japan the most recent trip, by the way. I apparently skipped that part in previous writings. Well there was no hooking up to be had there. That trip to Taiwan was the last time I both stayed in a hostel and stayed at a Couchsurfer’s, with the coming of a symbolically-yeared birthday I decided I was too old for this kind of backpacking travel…)

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DATING IN CHINA – MY GUANGZHOU YEAR

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Canton Tower
I was there, man

 

 

Previously: DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1
Covering the years 2008 – 2011

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

 

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

Dating – China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

Stayin’ upbeat

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Dating in Guangzhou – The end… my humble ‘successes’

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Dating in China, blah blah. I’m coming to an endpoint here. At least the end of my Guangzhou Year point.

Yes, I was getting sick of GZ. But not sick of China yet, not even close. I decided to go back to the familiarity of another city, my default locale. Shenzhen is just where I would’ve ended up eventually anyway, might as well surrender to my destiny. I sincerely like it better, somehow it works for me. I can’t believe I’m still here.

Guangzhou, in all its overwhelming epicness, was a place to study and a place to learn yet not a place for permanence.

In this final installment of the Provincial Capital’s memories, let me be a bit more positive. I may have complained too much in previous entries; I should be more grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had. It wasn’t all lonely nights in Canton…

 

There was Nellie, whom I met on POF. She had an exotic face, a cutesy style, and she invited me to her glamorous home to drink French wine. I spent a weekend there, she was so gracious. Regaled with tales of work and travel.

She visited me in Shenzhen once too.

Then there was Janey, whom I met on gzstuff.com. It was all so natural and easy, she added me or I added her (who remembers at this point?) and I simply suggested we go on a date and then we did and it ended nicely.

She was very attractive, thoroughly modern, and studied yoga. She didn’t mind coming out all the way to my place. But oddly shy. Like open in some ways, so reserved in others. We went to the cinema several, and window-shopped at Tianhe malls.

One day we had a fight when I went to her area in Taojin. I got bad directions and got lost and was late. No dinner even, only harsh words. It simply wasn’t meant to be long-term.

Most of all, there was Valerie, my then friend-with-benefit of choice. An office worker in glasses with a casual style. She was from Yunnan. She lived in deep Panyu, far away from downtown, and she was happy to visit me. We first met at a market in Shiqiao, the busiest area of the district and a world away from the city center.

I took her to dinner, went to parks, we enjoyed many weekends together lounging about my area. She liked me, she really liked me. Always cool, always happy, always there for me. Such an awesome person.

And no drama. I thank her for this. Today, as I think back and compare, I could not be more grateful for her positivity and good times.

I hope she thinks well of me now. I don’t even know why we didn’t become boyfriend and girlfriend. Didn’t seem in the cards, didn’t seem we had that kind of thing going. She wasn’t really who I pictured myself with, to be honest. We never had any serious conversations. She never pressured me to take things further. She was perpetually chill. Who knows, perhaps something was going on in her personal life at the time.

Still, I wonder…

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Dating in China – My Guangzhou Year

Zhujiang_new_townGZ

In early 2011 I broke up with Zoey and I was depressed and I thought I should start Dating in China yet again. It didn’t go well. A full year with one person, despite the trying and failing at improprieties, and I was a tad out of practice.

A very significant chapter of my life had ended, and I knew it would take a lot of work to reach the next chapter of my life. I realized I needed a new start.

What did I really have in Shenzhen? Frankly, a bunch of shallow friendships and little job security. I liked my apartment and my general setup but I wasn’t tied down. If I wasn’t tied down, shouldn’t I take advantage and go somewhere new?

Many expats simply live out of their suitcases, but not me. The heaviest things I own are my books. I sell them, I give them away, but I always get new ones and I’m left with a big stack. That and my clothes and various knickknacks and toys, and it’s not as easy for to move to, say, Shanghai or Seoul or Bangkok as it is for that other kind of expat.

I made the decision to move to Guangzhou — also known as Canton — that third major city of China (a distant third, but third nonetheless). Why did I choose GZ? Several reasons. I liked the city. I planned to do more research of Guangdong Province for my writing projects. I even wanted to study Cantonese. Most of all, I wanted to get a van to pack up all my stuff and move somewhere only a few hours away because it’s easier.

I went there on a research trip and looked around and found a stable thing going, and I committed. Next there was the hassle of putting all my things in boxes, had a going-away bar-hopping party night with friends at the local lesbian bar, and 500 yuan later I moved. My Guangzhou year had begun.

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Dating in China – Mary

My dating in China continues, with the obvious next stage. Meeting a nice Chinese girl.

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Backpacking summer ’09

It was a long, overwhelming summer. I haphazardly traveled to Shanghai plus Hangzhou to visit a Californian friend, I drank, I didn’t sleep, had to deal with high friends, had to deal with drunk acquaintances, had to deal with Californians visiting me and then getting their passports stolen. Then I moved, and I traveled some more.

All this and I was trying to put myself out there, but still mostly taking it slow with girls. (I made out with one girl at an epic club in Shanghai, that was it) After my “success” with a certain beautiful, sexy, glamorous adult woman, and subsequently discovering I really missed her, I suppose a part of me thought I should end up with someone completely different.

Mary was a girl, an English major at a university in Guangzhou. Junior or senior year, if I remember. 21 with medium-length hair and a very youthful vibe. I met her at a gig in Conghua, we hung out in my hotel room and played ping pong in the lobby. She very much had the cute thing going on. And she listened to Green Day.

After we crossed the threshold of fooling around, we vowed to keep in touch. Guangdong Province ain’t that big, and I needed to learn more about the capital megacity of Canton. Shenzhen is nice but that’s not all there is.

She proceeded to visit me, and I visited her. Actually she really made me feel better during the stressful days. We rotated visits every two weeks for a while. I enjoyed Guangzhou and having a bit of a guide. Go on weekend holidays, check out the Pearl River and the safari park. In a lot of ways GZ is better than SZ, it’s more massive and has a bigger scene and of course has more history and culture. Yet somehow the Special Economic Zone always suited me more. The Provincial Capital is too spread out, too much for me. Now, Shenzhen is a first-tier city and bigger than New York City and it’s not even one of the main big cities of China. Guangzhou may be a distant third to Beijing and Shanghai but it’s still incomprehensibly bigger than any Western city. I always thought of myself as a city person, but I must concede that places like Shanghai and Tokyo are way too much for me.

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The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354817

This is the first of my China-centric fiction that I will be sharing.

The Ghost of Lotus Mountain Brothel is a historical novella that purports to be a diary of a working girl in the year 1911, a most auspicious year in Chinese history. It serves as a prelude of sorts to my more epic story South China Morning Blues, about the modern Pearl River Delta megalopolis of the surrounding Hong Kong area (and more of that to come, but for now let this work stand on its own).

I feel that in many ways the China of the early 20th century is strikingly similar to the China of today. Political upheaval was on everyone’s minds. International businessmen were taking over, and exploiting the locals. Everyone wanted to learn English. Times were changing fast, the future was uncertain. Modernization, and the price thereof. 

The “Ghost” that is mentioned in the title is the ghost of modernity, haunting us all. Without giving away too much, let me just say that there is a mystery and it is never fully revealed. It is for you to interpret as you will.

Please read for more … …