What I would bring with me back from China

Photo by Zain Lee on Unsplash

I live in China, and recently, whenever I go online and there's some news report or some sort of article or YouTube video about China it seems to be getting more and more negative.

Now maybe that affects me because, on the one hand, I’m not a very political person, and on the other hand, because I want to make my life here for a little while longer. But, I think, there’s really no other way other than cooperation and I want to bring things down to a very pure, every-day economical and practical sense. So I want to share with you guys some of the things that, if I were to leave here I would take with me — or I wish I could take with me.

WeChat

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

So number one is a super easy choice. It’s absolutely WeChat. WeChat wallet is a thing of magic. I remember I saw a Click episode on BBC a few years back, and they were talking about the uses of WeChat, and they were talking about it like it was some super futuristic thing. And to be honest when I came here six years ago I was surprised again and again and again by the stuff I could do with it.

You can pay with QR codes — that's my number one use — and I haven’t carried a wallet in five and a half years. So everywhere you go there's a option to pay with a QR code. You can use WeChat wallet or you can use Alipay— another popular option which I'm using more and more now.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Limits vary, but 20,000RMB — roughly £2300 will go through without a hitch.

You can make transactions anywhere, like in convenience stores, malls and most businesses I can think of. You can make quite large purchases and you can transfer between people quite significant amounts of money. Limits vary, but 20,000RMB — roughly £2300 will go through without a hitch.

You can book rail tickets, you can book plane tickets, you can book holidays, you can buy cinema tickets — everything you can imagine. I know this sort of thing is getting more and more integrated back home but I feel like if one App tried to do all this there’d be some commission trying to stop them. WeChat — I’d miss it but I can’t bring it with me and it’s really something that I don’t see getting replicated.

Did I mention it’s the most popular messaging App too?

Squatting

Photo by pure julia on Unsplash

The technique by the way is to lower your trousers down to just below the knees not all the way down — that’s a big mistake…

Okay. Number two… squatting. Now squatting is something that we are really in need of in the West. I’m like 30-something years old but before I came here, although I didn’t have any super serious lower back problems, occasionally I would have little spasms (and the odd big one), maybe four times a year or so. I’d feel a of a bit of a pull on my lower back or an ache for a few days. Which is super common back home of course. But living live like that really didn’t have to be that way as I found out. All you need is a little squatting every day.

I started squatting since I came here, and honestly, I haven’t suffered any lower back pain whatsoever in forever. My posture has improved and all aches and pains have pretty much all gone (it’s not magic — if I sit on my computer playing Factorio for 10 hours, I’ll still get a sore back).

Why did I need to squat? Well, most of the public bathrooms here, like at work and in the malls, use squat toilets. And trust me, at the beginning it was just horrific. I needed to take everything off just so I could do a nice, wide squat to get down there. But now I don’t need to. The technique by the way is to lower your trousers down to just below the knees not all the way down - that's a big mistake…

But anyways that’s something I can’t bring back home with me. Can I convince the world to change to squat toilets? Of course I can’t. And actually - unfortunately - China is trying to “Westernize” by adding western toilets - which is a big mistake.

However, in my apartment, where unfortunately I’ve got a western toilet, what I do is I have a little stool — a squatty potty. You put it directly in front of your seat and place your feet on top. You kinda get the best of both worlds. You can sit down when you want to, or you can do a bit more of a squat when you feel like you need it. The angle is healthier. It’s just better performance, just better follow-through, so totally recommend that. If you don’t believe me, check out this 5-minute Science Insider video here. You can check out a cool squatty potty here(Amazon affiliate link).

MSG

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

…I love MSG so much. It’s one of those things that you don’t know is there until it’s not

Number three is something that exists in the UK but it’s been ostracized. It’s the bogeyman, it’s… MSG!!! Even here the young people try and reduce the amount of MSG they consume. They ask takeaways not to add it in their food; they don't give it to their children so much (ok, that’s fair enough).

But I love MSG so much. It’s one of those things that you don’t know is there until it’s not. A lot of foods contain natural MSG. In fact it was first extracted from seaweed — probably why so many like sushi. Seaweed has MSG, tomatoes, cheese and mushrooms have MSG. That’s why a good mushroom pizza is just incredible. Many other foods have natural MSG but adding MSG to something like the necessary evils (lettuce, cabbage - we need to eat our five a day) not only makes it tolerable; it makes it enjoyable.

There’s no reason to be proud of our restaurants or our cantinas saying they don’t put MSG in our food — especially if you’re an Asian restaurant back home. Just add the MSG! Nothing’s gonna happen to you or your customers! The reason people think MSG is harmful is because Asian people living in America in the 50s reported feeling sickly after going to Asian restaurants. It’s true that if you eat really big quantities of MSG without much food, you will feel a little woozy. But to add insult to injury, they did this nonsense experiment where they gave participants like a tablespoon of MSG without food, and as a result they had migraines and stuff. Of course they did! How would you feel if you had a tablespoon of salt with no food, with no nothing?!

So MSG is safe, add it to your diet and don’t be a baby.

Rice Cooker

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

So the last thing on my list is something that’s really important to me. You can find it back home but it’s not commonly seen. It’s the rice cooker. What a rice cooker does is it cooks perfect rice. I mean perfect rice.

But that’s not all! A rice cooker also keeps your food warm. You can use it as a crock pot or a pressure cooker. Some people with time on their hands have even posted rice cooker recipes where you can make super fluffy pancakes and other unexpected baked goods. You can also make bread, you can reheat your food, you can make stews, soups, porridges…

Thing is I would honestly pick a rice cooker over an oven or over a microwave any day of the week. I wish I could put into words my feeling towards the rice though. I know what you’re thinking… It’s just rice. I used to think the same way. But rice cooker rice is simply on a whole different level. Fluffy, perfect, pure, airy, with just the right amount of moisture… I wish I could give it justice. All I can say is, it’s a close second to MSG. You can check out an awesome rice cooker here(Amazon affiliate link).

Thanks for making it to the end of the list. If there’s anything you feel I missed out, I’d love to head it. Stay classy and thanks for stopping by.

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Thanos lives in China and works on coding and applying minimalism in his daily life

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Thanos Dodd

Thanos Dodd

Thanos lives in China and works on coding and applying minimalism in his daily life

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