A fleeting existence.
3,997 words

2020-02-03 I'm not in China anymore

I am back in my home country since December. I hope my colleagues in Shanghai are okay though.

The past six months in China felt "so surreal", as my roommate puts it. When I reached Singapore and tried to recall the events I had in China, it didn't feel like it happened. And within a day my previous habits and rhythm was back, like being in China didn't change me at all.

Have to say I'm super glad I came back before 2019-nCoV broke out.

The next batch of students from my university that's supposed to go to China have had their program postponed until further notice. They can't come back to school normally and join us in the classes because they've missed the timetable-making period and almost three weeks of classes. They also can't apply to other overseas program because it's too late to get the paperwork done on time as the semester's started.

They might need to graduate later if they apply for Leave of Absence for the semester. But better late one semester or a year in your life than to contract a virus that currently has no cure, I guess. It must suck.

Stay safe.

Guestbook entries

For some reason, I get errors when trying to approve guestbook entries. I was using a bad email and only when I updated it a few days ago I received the notifications.

I'll put them here. Thanks for leaving comments, good or bad. At least I know someone's reading about my insipid life.

On November 03, 2019 00:15:

Keep up the writing, am interested in your life in China! from another listed.to author

On November 22, 2019 13:52:

it was great fun reading your entries - x

2019-11-22 Rush hour today

This morning, someone was pushing through the crowd that was going up the stairs in the metro. Heavy pushing, with no apologies nor excuses. I got shoved aside as well. The ones in front were not as lucky as they were directly in front of the man. He rudely slammed at them before using his body to push his way ahead.

"Are you crazy?!" was what one aunty shouted.

I'd never want to work at places where there's such a crowded rush hour, ever again. Unless I'm paid high enough to be able to afford a less crowded form of commute every day.

2019-11-01 Things you'll only know if you work and live in Shanghai

Disclaimer: these are all very subjective and could contain my full bias towards the country and its people.

  1. Chinese people have no sense of personal space

  2. It's possible to stay at home forever, with the amount and variety of services available online

  3. The peak period for work is around 8am to 11am

  4. If it's crowded and you don't push when entering the train, prepare to be pushed

  5. People spit everywhere

  6. People talk everywhere

  7. Cutting queues is a very common thing and the Chinese seem oblivious to stares

  8. The food can be really cheap to just about the same as in Singapore

  9. Travelling is convenient because you just need services like Ctrip to book everything

  10. Losing your train ticket for 高铁 (bullet train) as a foreigner is fine, just show your passport and have a receipt of the booking

  11. Security checks are everywhere

  12. There's no toilet papers in public toilets most of the time (except in malls)

  13. People wear branded goods, especially bags

  14. Concert tickets here are generally cheap compared to in Singapore

  15. People (housing estate agents) like to advertise houses in front of apartments

  16. 争先恐后 zheng1 xian1 kong3 hou4, meaning strive to be the first and fear being left behind, seems to be part of their culture here

  17. Shanghai can get boring easily if you can't drink or smoke and don't like shopping

  18. Taobao or any other online shopping platforms are probably your most reliable shopping companion

  19. Buying food from Eleme (lit. Hungry?) is cheaper than going outside to eat the same food

  20. There's rubbish sorting into 4 categories: wet trash, dry trash, toxic trash, and recyclable items

  21. Scams on the streets are common

  22. Cars need to manually pay for car park fees, unlike in Singapore where there's a scanner for your In-Vehicle Unit, which is part of the Integrated Automated Car Park Barrier System where entering and exiting car parks doesn't need us to lift a finger for payments

  23. Convenience store food's standard isn't as high as Japan's

  24. Squat toilets are too common for a developed city

  25. Toilets smell extremely bad here, unlike in Korea where even the metro toilets don't smell

  26. Broken toilet doors and locks and toilets with shits inside unflushed are very common (for female toilets anyway)

  27. Scanning QR codes on tables to order food is the norm

  28. Do your resident permit ASAP, or be in trouble

  29. AirBnB spells trouble for foreigners because most landlords won't do the residence permit registration for you or are unlicensed to do so

  30. Chinese food are freaking oily

  31. Taco Bells here is amazing

  32. There's membership for everything, just access them through your phone's WeChat

2019-10-25 Work and Study (China) by NTU

The Work & Study Program (China) from my University is a trap.

Students with no allowance can get S$1,500 extra (approx 7~8k RMB).

For me, who's getting paid 968RMB a month, is only getting 4,840RMB in total after 5 months.

So I'm getting even less money than my peers who's unpaid.

And one of my unpaid peers is actually being paid, just not through the contract.

What the fuck.

Fuck you school.

Fuck you for not trying to help at all.

It's all about the money. And the fair treatment.

Some of us are only getting money through reimbursements for food and transport. Isn't that even worse? And CfuckingAO doesn't appear helpful from their responses.

To those who are interested in joining this Work & Study Program (China), please rethink. Unless you have no money issues AT ALL, don't go.

You pay is also deducted by 20% for tax, which you'll have no hope of getting back from, unlike foreigners who go to Singapore to work. At least they can still withdraw from their CPF after 55 years old. Here, your 20% is gone, forever (from what I know).

2019-10-24 Transport in Shanghai

One of the biggest reason I don't see myself coming back to Shanghai for work is due to the public transport. Or more specifically, the metro.

Shanghai has so many people. But even so, their culture around it makes it worse. The people have no personal space, nor do they respect others' need for it.

In Singapore, when everyone is inside the train and it's packed, people stop squeezing. No one needs to touch another, nor do we want to. Here at Shanghai, who the fuck cares whether you're male or female. "I want in on this train, and don't tell me to wait a few more minutes for the next one that's potentially gonna be less crowded. NO." proceeds to push like a madman, like a horde of hungry zombies are about to get them so they need to get on to escape

Being like a sardine in a can isn't fun, especially not when people smell.

Worse, my colleague has met a pervert masturbating while staring at her, himself stuck right behind two unsuspecting people. In Singapore, this has close to 0 chance of happening, because PEOPLE DON'T FUCKING SQUEEZE SO TIGHTLY TOGETHER IN THE TRAIN, hiding most things below the chest from view.


2019-09-27 Psycho-Past

Our manager and colleague, which I shall label as A, went "psycho" yesterday (quoted from a colleague).

We have a colleague who's newly joined, let's call her F, who's not supposed to work on Thursday and Friday.

But on Monday, F was given a project that's to be done by Friday. Nobody said anything about this, but it's not supposed to happen.

On Thursday, our editor A asked where tf F was since it's a working day, but F was having classes at a school. Another colleague, B, told A that F wasn't suppose to come on Thursdays and Fridays. Then A asked about the progress of the project that's due friday, which B again said F could have school (which was true) and might be busy to work on it. A then said, "But the thing's due Friday" like she doesn't care about F's schedule and work-life balance at all.

It was Mid-Autumn soon, so it was supposed to be a holiday for all Chinese. But not for us, since we're supposed to follow the people above us in rank and they wanted to follow the American holiday. What could I do other than suck it up? But then, my manager and my seniors (who used to work here last time) suggested for meto request if I could work from home, which should be fine based on their experience, so I asked A.

"Friday is a regular working day", said A.

Oh well, I thought.

-Mid-Autumn morning-

I woke up all tired, which was my fault for sleeping late as my roomies all didn't have to work the next day, so we talked all night.

Packed everything, poured three packs of instant coffee into my thermal flask, then was wearing my socks about to leave the house. My roomies were wishing me luck at work, watching me prepare to leave.

Then, a text message arrived.

A said, (paraphrased) "The office's pretty empty so feel free to work from home."

flips table

What the freak.

"A's leadership is so good, it depends on A's mood," said B, when I told B and another colleague about this.

2019-09-20 Not for me

Today's a shitty day like any other and I can't wait for work to end so I can meet my friends and eat with them at this restaurant they found that sells my home country's food, and then get out of Shanghai tomorrow on first class train seats to escape people and the place.

My intern company sucks bad; not only do they not give you much for the pay but the work culture is boring. My internship experience back home was way better and my ex-colleagues were way nicer.

SmartShanghai is the commonly recommended site for things related to Shanghai and I feel there's good reason behind it.

My pay is just a measely <USD7 a day here, while at SmartShanghai they offer close to USD423 for just working 24 hours in total per week, across four working days in one week. That's already more than my pay in one intern firm I worked at back home. I won't work there of course, nor will they pick me as someone with such a negative attitude, and journalism in China is definitely not for me.

But, I like the tone of their articles more. Perhaps it's just the writers' skills compared to the ones we have here. Though I have to say one editor's writing suits my taste a tad more among the three that I've read.

The guy who always brings us interns for lunch is okay. But he avoids answering things that doesn't concern him or work, and I freaking hate this kind of behaviour. Show some compassion, freak.

Now on to the bad things about Shanghai in general.

The people here, not just local Shanghainese, have no morals and are absolutely selfish. They tend to stop walking in the middle of the pathway for selfish reasons. Why can't they move aside first before stopping to do whatever shit they want to do? Also, spitting is so common that walking near middle-aged uncles is a risk.

And the smells. Oh my god, the smells. There's two places I've ranked as the smelliest in Shanghai that I have to be at throughout my daily life here: toilets and lifts. The MRT here can almost make the list, but lifts are just a notch worse since there's usually no fans and you're stuck in a metal box of sweat and other body odours on the way home or out of house. Great way to start and end a fun trip or your day. Toilets are without tissues, but sometimes they sell them. But no matter how clean they appear, pee smells just attacks the nose once you step near any cubicle five to ten metres. Just avoid the public toilets. Mall toilets can be bad, but posh ones are still okay.

The good things in China are 5% its people and 95% other stuff like convenience from e-payments, scenery, and maybe the weather, but that's like something you can get in any non-tropical country. I'm missing out a lot here so this is most definitely biased. I don't even get Chinese holidays at this company. HELLO, WHERE ARE MY HUMAN RIGHTS?

I'd stay away from China in the future as I feel it's not for me. Especially working here. Never.

Moving to China

I'll only be back next year.

Can't really feel the excitement yet, and no anxiety too. Just feels like any other normal day.

The only thing I know is I'll be sad my idling days will be over soon.

The flight is tomorrow.

China, here I come!

Reading list for 中文网络小说

Start End Title Author Notes Reccomend?
2018-12-XX 2019-01-XX 魔道祖师 墨香铜臭 很棒,很虐,很可爱 Y
2019-01-XX 2019-01-XX 天官赐福 墨香铜臭 很好看,但有点长。可以多一点别人的故事,内幕之类的 Y
2019-01-23 2019-02-03 人渣反派自救系统 墨香铜臭 还好,看不到感情,太医方面的爱了 N
2019-02-05 2019-02-18 镇魂 priest 新鲜感,但不是特别好 N
2019-02-25 2019-03-22 六爻 priest 很虐,可是不够爱情 Y
2019-04-06 2019-04-18 炮灰女配:纨绔厉王妃 潇潇夜雨 不够虐,但很有趣。不知道现代的身体变成怎样去 Y
2019-04-24 连载 修真聊天群 圣骑士的传说 特别好看,很逗比,有点过水,可是因为很合胃口,可以放过奶骑 Y!
2019-06-26 2019-07-04 时光和你都很美 叶非叶 暂停。太无聊了,看不下去。停在第945章。 N
2019-07-04 2019-11-12 大帝姬 希行 很慢,可是好看,很期待后面的故事。 Y!
2019-11-12 东宫 匪我思存 有点看不下去 N
2019-11-14 慕南枝 吱吱 有些细节无聊,读得很慢 N
2019-11-19 大王饶命 会说话的肘子 On hold
2019-11-20 斗罗大陆 唐家三少

Plan to read

Title Author
第一侯 希行
大王饶命 会说话的肘子
凡人修仙之仙界篇 忘语
诡秘之主 爱潜水的乌贼
圣墟 辰东
慕南枝 吱吱
道君 跃千愁
全球高武 老鹰吃小鸡
牧神记 宅猪
我有一座冒险屋 我会修空调
锦桐 闲听落花
覆手繁华 云霓
乘鸾 云芨
似锦 冬天的柳叶

5/15/2019, 4:52 PM

5/15/2019, 4:52 PM

It's the holidays and I'm currently waiting for the results of the Financial Aid from the school.
If I can get the FinAid, I can go to Shanghai for Internship, and I will have to fly by early July.
My pay is freaking low though; compared to others who don't even get pay, I am getting lesser aid by $400... Those with no pay automatically gets $1500 from the school as a compensation. So because my pay only gives me about $1000+ and with the lack of the compensation... I am losing out.

Plus, my family is facing financial issues now:

My mom is the sole bread winner and today she's working 12 hours, from 5am to 5pm. She's just a stall assistant, and earns less than $1.5k monthly.
My father doesn't want to work anymore due to depression.
My brother is relaxing because working is tiring, so after he lost his job because the branch closed down, he's jobless. It's been more than one month.
And why is his girlfriend still living with us? She's not paying rent, my brother also refuse to let her leave, and my mom always comes to my room and tell me how she wish the girlfriend moves out. I keep telling my mom that she should use her authority and let them know what she thinks, but she's scared of creating dispute. So all I can do is listen to her rant.

I've applied for translation jobs, but I'm still waiting for the test results. I really hope I get them so I can do it even while I'm in China, since it's a freelance job where I can do anywhere. Looking for jobs is hard when you can only commit for a month or so.

I half wish I can go, because this is such a rare opportunity.
But I also half wish I don't go, so I can lesson the burden on both me and my mother.

I have to go to Japan for exchange next year and it'll cost way more than China since there's no financial assistance from the school. I applied for this long ago before father retired, and I can't really back out due to the penalty fee. Neither do I wish to back out of this contract because I really love Japan, much more than China.

If only I were rich.
If I were rich, I can pay for my own school fees.
If I were rich, I can let my parents retire earlier.
If I were rich, I can send my father for therapy.

But after every storm it will be sunny.
So I'll do my best and pull through this tough period!

Then again, perhaps if it's confirmed that I will be going China, I will try contacting the school and ask if I can terminate my Japan contract...
The Japan exchange will cost me probably $6k~$8k, I hope not more... since it's only four months.
The China internship will cost a rough estimate of $10k to $12k, but I think it'll be less if I don't go to expensive places or eat expensive food.
Also, the China trip will only cost us around $3k and not the full $10k or so because of the financial assistance.

$3k VS $6~8k
China VS Japan
Internship VS Exchange

The obvious choice is China...


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon now


Finished 《六爻》 a few days ago.

I started reading "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. It made me realise how much vocab I didn't know, and have forgottong from not having touched a book for so many years. The theme in this book is quite refreshing after reading so much about Chinese culture and Taoist-themed historical romance.

Has anyone read the book? It'll be nice to get recommendations on similar stories.

《六爻》 now


Been reading the book for a while now. It starts of slow, but it gets more interesting. Still reading it!

Super duper tired. What's a break when you have so many things due right after? I would rather they spread it out. It's like the calm before the storm... Hell week's coming.

Also, I hope I get that internship.



读的时候总是想起墨香铜臭的 人渣,魔道,天官。





明天19日是吧!Yakuza Kiwami 就可以玩了!惨了!作业!



I thought spending like $10 on a Japanese novel was expensive. It's just one book out of the many volumes in the series, too. That means I'll have to spend like >$100 if I wanted more than 10 volumes of 転スラ. (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

Then, I wanted to buy jjwxc credits for the novels I'm reading there. Can't find a way to buy without a China bank... so I am forced to use the PayPal method.
17USD, no other choices. Ended up buying them for $23.95 in my country's currency. ( ̄  ̄|||)
If foreign banks are accepted there, I would only have to spend $20 for the same amount... poor college student problems

At least buying a whole series of about 200+ chapters costs only 2.6k jjwxc credits. I have 10k credits now. ╮( ˘_˘ )╭

That's really cheap compared to Japanese novels.

Some thoughts

2019-02-15 20:54


Reading is an incredibly fast way to level up our language ability.

Reading fun books is even better!

It's amazing when you can feel the changes in a few mere months.
Can't wait to start reading Japanese novels too.

I'm only reading Japanese webtoons/manga, so the improvements are much slower than my Chinese (reading Chinese novels now).

Listening to amazarashi

Can't get over how much I love the band.
Not since they pulled me out of the darkest time in my life last year.

Stumbled upon them when I watched My Hero Academia.
I've never liked a music group so much. It's really...

Kinda regret rejecting the interview for an English major.
Not very sure but I feel it's more useful than a linguistics one.

For what I want to do.

Tired, fun, dilemma

2019-02-10 23:11

Tiring, tiring, but fun day.

Chatted lots with my girlfriends after so long. We exhanged valentine chocolates. Had an enjoyable meal at Salmon Samurai, with my usual choice. $12.90.

Salmon Samurai with Mentaiko Topping

We went to Tom N Toms Coffee for a break. Only $5.80. We had red velvet cake after since we wolfed down this one. Cake was $5.


Am torn between continuing my Japanese classes or stopping it to focus on Chinese and to save up the money for my school exchange.

Reasons to continue:

  • recap of Japanese knowledge
  • get used to reading passages
  • get corrected for pronunciation
  • learn to present in Japanese
  • forces me to at least touch Japanese on a weekly basis
  • the teacher is good

Reasons to stop:

  • save money for exchange/overseas internship
  • can save 3hrs+ of transport to and fro class location
  • can use the time for homework and classes to focus on schoolwork and improving Chinese
  • can self-study Japanese on my own pace
  • money saved from classes could also be used to buy own materials for Japanese, such as keigo books, grammar books, N1 books
  • the grammar and vocabulary sections from Tobira that’s used in the Japanese classes are those that I already know of

What should I do?

I’m thinking next lesson I’ll think about it again and let the teacher know soon after that, so he can open up the slot for interested students. Feels really bad that I’ll be making him lose a student and also since for an ongoing class it is hard to get new students… It’s like taking away the teacher’s income due to my poor planning :c

Update!: I’ll continue the classes.

Reading list for 中文网络小说

Start End Title Author Notes Reccomend?
2018-12-XX 2019-01-XX 魔道祖师 墨香铜臭 很棒,很虐,很可爱 Y
2019-01-XX 2019-01-XX 天官赐福 墨香铜臭 很好看,但有点长。可以多一点别人的故事,内幕之类的 Y
2019-01-23 2019-02-03 人渣反派自救系统 墨香铜臭 还好,看不到感情,太医方面的爱了 N
2019-02-05 2019-02-18 镇魂 priest 新鲜感,但不是特别好 N
2019-02-25 2019-03-22 六爻 priest 很虐,可是不够爱情 Y
2019-04-06 2019-04-18 炮灰女配:纨绔厉王妃 潇潇夜雨 不够虐,但很有趣。不知道现代的身体变成怎样去 Y
2019-04-24 连载 修真聊天群 圣骑士的传说 特别好看,很逗比,有点过水,可是因为很合胃口,可以放过奶骑 Y!
2019-06-26 2019-07-04 时光和你都很美 叶非叶 暂停。太无聊了,看不下去。停在第945章。 N
2019-07-04 2019-11-12 大帝姬 希行 很慢,可是好看,很期待后面的故事。 Y!
2019-11-12 东宫 匪我思存 有点看不下去 N
2019-11-14 慕南枝 吱吱 有些细节无聊,读得很慢 N
2019-11-19 大王饶命 会说话的肘子 On hold
2019-11-20 斗罗大陆 唐家三少

Plan to read

Title Author
第一侯 希行
大王饶命 会说话的肘子
凡人修仙之仙界篇 忘语
诡秘之主 爱潜水的乌贼
圣墟 辰东
慕南枝 吱吱
道君 跃千愁
全球高武 老鹰吃小鸡
牧神记 宅猪
我有一座冒险屋 我会修空调
锦桐 闲听落花
覆手繁华 云霓
乘鸾 云芨
似锦 冬天的柳叶


2019-02-04 15:58

Can you tolerate spoilers?

At what point is something someone said considered a spoiler?

I can't tolerate them.

Years ago, I loved spoilers. They saved me time from watching TV series, finish reading books, watching anime, etc, etc.

Then, I met a friend who can't tolerate spoilers. Their hatred for it rubbed onto me and now I can't take them... 哦买噶自从那时就有点狠自己了。

Now, what "level" of tolerable spoilers are there?
1. Some people enjoy knowing anything and everything about a story they are or were into.
2. Some people do not want to know about any character's death or any major plot points.
3. Some people do not want to know what will happen in the story in the future, at all. <- I'm here most of the time.
4. Some people don't even want to know what the consumer is supposed to feel. <- I'm here, for major plotlines.

The stance is that when you get into a story and experience all the ups and downs, twists and turns without knowing what will happen beforehand, the feelings you get are just so much more free and unbiased and intense.

When you know something is going to happen in a story, I feel that our brain just sorts of braces itself for the plot point. The feeling becomes dulled. If someone says a particular story will make you cry a lot, the expectation for feelings that invoke tears will be there. It totally ruins it....!!!!

So, no spoilers please. Nor from me unless requested. Don't tell me about how you feel about a book, movie, anime, comic, etc!! Just tell me the genre and perhaps only the summary of the first chapter/episode or the first few paragraphs. Tell me about the genre, but not when it's a part of a major plot point. I am very sorry, but they just take away the fun from enjoying any story...

For games with stories, don't tell me how many chapters there are (maybe for books too?). Only disclose the rough amount, okay?! Like, "'I Shall Seal The Heavens' has more than a thousand chapters." Mostly for games only, though, as their chapter numbers sometimes betray a lot about the pacing of the story (like Yakuza 0 & FFXV).

It's a very sad thing though. One can't help but feel that people who abhor spoilers are party-poopers, wet-blankets.

However, I can say with confidence that not having spoilers and being able to enjoy the full story with no influence in the emotions is a truly wonderful feeling. Provided it's a good story.

So, what about you? Lemme know your opinion in the guestbook if you're willing!