Packing for China 2013

This is the second post about packing. I have already posted about packing in 2011 but as you will find out I did bail out of China after 6  months or so because of various reasons – which you can read about in the book.

This then is a blog post from 2013 – I will add commentary about the contents of my packing – such as was it worth it or not.

I’ve started to pack for China. It seems I’ve had a stroke of good luck in that my airline ticket bought online via  gives me 30 kilos of checked in baggage as oppose to the 20 kilo the airline advertise. I have checked this with the agent and have had an email from them confirming it, I will be ringing Cathay Pacific tomorrow to double check. This is simply because if I end up 10 kilos overweight I’ll be charged $600 excess baggage!

Anyway the 30 kilos gives me a bit more scope than the 20 kilos I had to pack last time.

In 2011 this was pretty much my final packing list:
Running shoes – needed
Black shoes for work – needed
Running shorts – Lycra – you can buy shorts here
Running shirt – long sleeves – you can buy shirts here
Fred  Perry Polo Shirt – didn’t wear too much
Waxed type Jacket – still using it
Black and White Kefeya Scarf – not used so much
Casual Rugby style shirts x 2 – 1long sleeve and 1 short sleeve – long sleeve good for winter.
Track suit bottoms  – new and thick and warm x1 – needed to lounge around in.
University of Plymouth Hoodie – parting gift from my job – I asked for it, and they are warm and good quality – good for the winter.
Large Bath sheet – smaller ones can be purchased in China but not bath sheets – You can buy decent sized towels in the supermarkets.
1 pair black jeans – you can buy jeans here I’m a 36/38 inch waist no problems
1 pair Khaki Chinos – as above
4 cotton shirts –  for work etc – Shirts are a problem the biggest chinese size XXL is too tight for me. Im usually an XL in the UK.
2 x thermal vests and 2 x thermal long johns – I’m told that there is no heating in Chinese schools – my school is OK but yours might not be – I wear the vests more often than the long johns.
6 pairs underpants (M&S of course) – I buy underpants in Miniso a sort of Japanese £1 shop.
10 pairs of socks (1 pair a month huh?) – socks – you can buy socks
1 woolly hat (courtesy of Matilda, she bought it in Marrakesh)
1 woolly bobble hat – you can buy hats
1 pair thick socks – useful.
Running trousers (Lycra) not to useful.

That’s it in terms of clothes

Also in the suitcase is:

A bag with 6 underarm deodorants – reduced from 10 – apparently you cant get deodorant in China!  – You can get deodorant but its few and far between and sometimes expensive. I still bring it.

Plus 5 small bottles of shaving oil. – I buy a big bottle off eBay.

Various prescription medicines, 3 Ventolin and 3 of the steroid puffers.  3 packs of Imodium (just in case!), about 12 of my migraine drugs (but hopefully will not need) – Yes bring your prescription drugs.  From this list I can buy ventolin over the counter. Haven’t seen Imodium (go to the £1 shop) and a big NO to my migraine drugs.

cliploc bags x 2 boxes for teacher in china. 2 x large bars of chocolate requested by teacher in china.

Swiss Army penknife. – Useful anywhere. It has a corkscrew, a bottle opener and a tin opener (Tin openers are hard to find in China – bring one)

At the moment my bag is pushing about 23 kilos and is looking pretty full with all this stuff (not including the dog, she’s going on her own flight, i’m couriering her stuff)

My stuff for China
So in no particular order here we go again: – This is my 2013 list.
Running shoes _ yes
Black shoes for work Yes

Running shorts – Lycra – my choice
Running shirt – long sleeves – my choice
Polo Shirt x 2
Waxed type Jacket – still wearing it.
Black and White Kefeya Scarf – why do I still have it?

Yellow Indian Scarf – I like scarfs
Casual Rugby style shirts x 2 – 1long sleeve and 1 short sleeve – as above long sleeve good for winter.
Track suit bottoms  – new and thick and warm x1 – be snuggly in your apartment.
Bath towel – Why you idiot?
2 x blue jeans – Ok
7 cotton shirts –  for work etc 5 x long sleeve formal 2 x short sleeve casual – yes – OK
2 x thermal vests and 2 x thermal long johns – there is no heating in Chinese schools – again I mainly wear the vests in the winter.
6 pairs underpants – yes
7 pairs of socks – yes.

2 x ankle socks for running – just me.
1 woolly hat
1 woolly bobble hat – yes for the winter.
2 x pair thick socks – for the winter.
Running trousers (Lycra) – just me.
8 ties – all from Charity shops – all silk – 0.99p each.
Lumberjack style hat (bought in china last time)
1 x pair of gloves – yes – but you can buy gloves here
1 x neck scarf – you can buy scarfs here too
Long sleeve top – Ok for winter
Polo neck top – long sleeve – it was fleecy so good for winter.
White England Nike rugby top – of course.
Linen Suit – Yes from M&S a boon in the summer.
Trousers (work) – yes
Grey work jacket – yes
Micro fleece – yes.
Swimming shorts – yes – but you can but them here
Hiking boots – worn a lot especially during the winter in the classrooms and a boon when travelling.

That’s it in terms of clothes

Also in the suitcase is – to be listed when I’m sure I’ve got what I need. So that’s a first attempt at getting what I think I need/want. Theres a couple of other items I could take if I want, but I have to decide do I really want them as, after all, I will have to bring most of this back and I may not get 30 kilos of baggage allowance next time.

I’ve still got 7 kilos in my backpack and a computer case to go yet as well and I more week top sort it out as me and snooks are off on the 20th August.

Part two – adding more stuff.

Dark Suit – a business type suit – I wear it when meeting parents etc.
Wash bag with razor, toothbrush, small toothpaste, small bottle Calvin Klein One and other bits n pieces – of course.
Bigger wash bag holding various medicines including 20 lemsips (gold dust in China), some anti Beijing tummy remedy, migraine medicine, anadin, anti indigestion medicine etc.
3 brown puffers (cenil modulate) – Ive not been using it.
4 blue ventolin – buy over the counter.
Canvas bag (present)
Shoe brushes x 2 – useful
3 x pairs of insoles – very useful for my flat feet.
small canvas artwork 6 x 6 inches – gift
2 x filters (for friends hot tub) -gift
4 x anti perspirent roll ons, – adding to the above
When I started to repack, the bag was weighing in at about 26 kilos. So I have reduced this by removing all the packaging from various medicines, removed a glass bottle of cough medicine ( I might regret this), the short sleeved rugby shirt, removed the bath towel, I can buy one in China, removed gloves, removed scarf and anything in superfluous packaging i.e., took shoes out of shoe bag.
Computer Bag carry on
Spare dog lead
Neoprene knee brace
Office folder containing papers, certificates etc
Hair clay
Olbas Oil 10ml – very useful if you have a cold to clear blocked sinuses and steam your tubes.
Kindle – now got the app on my smartphone
Google Nexus tablet – in a drawer I don’t use it
Hanky (cotton) – useful when you have a cold.
Notebooks x 2 – why?
Spare mobile phone – yes very useful – have a UK sim in it so your bank and text you your security numbers.
Glasses x 3 (reading) – you can buy glasses cheap in China if you find the right places.
Business cards
8 x USB memory sticks – did I really need that many?
Oxford School Thesaurus – Why when its online?
Apple Mac Book in case – Of course – I am still using this computer.
Dr Dre Headphones – yes.
Dogs papers – yes
Lead and Harness – yes.
This is about 7 kilos at the moment, it might be too heavy, the airline only stipulates a computer case or briefcase.
Back pack carry on
2 x electrical plug adaptors – useful until you get local stuff for your electronics
Camera – of course
All Charging leads for gadgets – deffo
Camera lens wrapped in scarf – yes
2 bags sweets for friends kids
spare glasses and sun glasses – yes
spare razor blades (1 pack) – you can buy them here – they are just as expensive.
moist toilet tissue = why?
Head torch (wind up) – yes useful.
anadin – very useful – its my headache remedy of choice. I bring lots
3 x Typhoo tea packs (I know coals to Newcastle etc – but you can’t beat a good cuppa, even in China!) – The most important thing in my bag.
This is about 5 kilos at the moment and can be 7 kilos as my carry on bag.
I have a waist belt as well which will have another pack of moist toilet tissue (a boon in China believe me) – I’m lying you can buy it here.
my sunglasses which I can wear around my neck when boarding,
my small camera which I can wear on my belt when boarding – dropped it – got it fixed and never used it again – my smart phone is better.
I also will carry an overcoat with stuff in the pockets.
Plus of course I will be wearing shirt, trousers, jacket, probably my fleece, doc martens etc.
Before leaving 
 I added a pair of shorts that were always going to be on the list but I had been wearing them and they were then in the wash.  Ive also added a fleece and a rain jacket but these two items are in my carry on at the moment. I’ve decanted my medicine out of the glass bottle that I rejected yesterday and put it into two 100ml plastic bottles. I’ve added some more teabags and a few bits and pieces such as Snookys  Ducky, two balls, plus tomorrow, I’ll have to add her lead, collar and harness as she is not allowed them on the plane she’s going on. But nothing else significant so the main bag is up to about 25 kilos. I think thats about it, Im happy with that.
My bags

Chapter 8 – New Semester – New Students – New Experiences

We went back to the office where Baruch gave me my teaching books. As he handed them over he told me although these were the books I could teach what ever I wanted. I was a bit confused at, and a little alarm bell rang in my head.

Chinese teachers – Its always Christmas in China
Nine students 
seven students – mainly girls

. All my students, across the three classes, were in their final year, so there was little motivation to turn up, even though they were required to ‘by law,’ and will fail their course if they were away for more than one third of the classes. Despite this they were not turning up. I was told these students were the ‘worst English students’ of their year.

China Boy
At the temple

Chapter 7 – Doctor X makes new friends

When Richard turned up, he looked surprised to see me. ‘What are you doing here?‘ he asked. ‘Arthur told me to come,’ I said. ‘Arthur told me that you had told him what time I was to be here.’ I wasn’t expected to be there until Sunday apparently, things get lost in translation, or just not mentioned at all.

Outside the gates of Nanjing College of Information Technology
The view from my office window
These places are huge

We were given a quick tour around the college, it was MASSIVE, from the front gate to my classroom block was a fifteen-minute walk.

Another huge university just down the road – there are about 13 in the local area.
The Chinese teachers – the Christmas trees a permanent fixture
One of the waitresses in the BLUE MARLIN.
Arthur in the office

Arthur is a LOUD exhibitionist that camouflages deep insecurities – he will say this himself, so I’m not doing him a disservice in describing him like that.

Tim and Suzy (notice teacher in bed behind Tim)

I had met Tim and Suzy, an American couple, in the grounds of my apartment, as I was coming or going one day. They were new like me, and fortunately were going to be working at the same college as I was. They were a bit younger than me; Tim had been a successful builder in Florida until the great American crash had wiped him, and his business out.

Inside the school




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Chapter 6 – Nanjing City

“Nanjing is a very pleasant city, despite being known as one of the three huolu, or furnaces, of central China, on account of its hundred-degree summers. Located mostly on the south bank of the Yangtze River, it has a population of more than 6 million people.” China Road: One Man’s Journey into the Heart of Modern China by Rob Gifford

“The name Nanjing (formerly spelt Nanking) means nothing fancier than ‘Southern Capital’. (Beijing means ‘Northern Capital. Tokyo is called Dongjing, which means ‘Eastern Capital’. There is no Western Capital). The city rests on layer upon layer of Chinese history.”  1421: The Year China Discovered the World by Gavin Menzies.

Delivery in Fuzi Miow
Prayer tree outside the Confucius Temple
Alley – sadly pulled down now in the name of progress
The gate leading to Fuzi Miow
My new twist n go scooter
James – one of the friendlier Chinese teachers at NCIT

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Hints and Tips


I have mentioned in all of the blogs that most of the contracts in China come with Health Insurance.  Obviously most, if not all of the part time, illegal, cash in hand work does not come with health insurance.

I guess, like me, most of you will probably Google looking for ex-pat health insurance policies of your own. If you have already done that you know that it’s prohibitively expensive, especially if you are coming to China on a 6000rmb per month contract.  A quick look on a comparison site for a male aged 40 provides quotes starting as low as 303rmb ($49) per month for a basic service to 6165rmb ($997) per month for an all singing and dancing service.

I have heard that some people have come to China with ‘Backpacker’ health insurance.  Another quick search on Google based on a 40 yr old male and you will find backpacking insurance policies ranging from around  £250 to £701 for a years cover.

Personally I am more than happy with the insurance policy provided by my employer, and in general this is there to provide me with emergency care should I need it.  For the run of the mill day to day health issues the local hospital is good enough, and cheap enough.

If you are ill, ill enough to want to see a doctor, you need to ask your school to have someone take you.  You will be taken to the local hospital, for that is where, surprise surprise, the doctors are. Once there the process is simple.  You see a receptionist, tell them what your problem is, they direct you to the room with the type of doctor you need – you do not see a generalist GP.  For example, I came down with a urinary infection.  I was taken to the hospital, and once there I saw a doctor who ‘specialised’ in urinary problems.  I was sent to give blood and urine samples, the results were ready in less than 20 minutes, I saw the doctor again.  He prescribed antibiotics and a complementary Chinese herbal medicine.  It cost me about £12 (120rmb) I think, if I remember correctly.

After my crash I had a CAT scan, no waiting, it cost £6 (60rmb) I think, I was concussed at that time.  Of course my friend was also in hospital with a broken leg. The actual conditions might not have been wonderful but the treatment was good.  His NHS doctor, when he went back to the UK to recover, was complementary about the work.

Of course many of the gap year graduates, and others have sampled the Chinese health system after falling off bikes, getting sports injuries and so on, and I have never heard any complaints. I have faith in the Chinese system and do not have any insurance other than that which is linked to my contract.


I have no problems with Chinese dentists either.  We, most of the teachers I know, use a Chinese dentist called Lillian.  The manager of the bar we used recommended us to her, Lillian was her cousin.  When ‘Andy’ came off the back of my bike he landed on his teeth. So his front upper teeth were smashed – as well as breaking his leg. Lillian fixed his front teeth and put temporary caps on them. I believe it cost about 600rmb (£60 approx) they lasted 3 years before they fell out, and needed a more permanent fix.

I have had work done by Lillian with no pain to both my jaw and my wallet – unlike in the UK.  Lillian also saved a tooth that dentists in the UK wanted to take out. She put a porcelain crown on it. This cost me 800rmb (£80 approx). She also tells me if it comes off and I lose it she will replace it for half price. I recently saw her because of toothache. It seems my ‘baby teeth’ (we call them wisdom teeth) are on the move.  She took an x-ray, and prescribed some antibiotics – it cost me a couple of quid.

So how to find a good dentist or a good hospital? Ask your colleagues for recommendations. Don’t do what a lot of the entitled do, which is, use the local international hospital or the international clinics, which abound, because if you do you will also be paying international prices.  The point was made when a doctor from the international hospital in Nanjing who generously looked after ‘Mike’ (re my bike crash – keep up) told him that even the International Hospital used the orthopaedic surgeons in the Chinese hospital he was in because they were the best.


My advice is to bring your favourite over the counter drugs with you in particular bring those which you might use at home to ease a cold or the flu.  Remember you will be working in a school – the place will be full of bugs and viruses, especially in the winter. I bring Lemsips  – the powders and the day care capsules – these are like gold dust in China, especially if people know you have them and they have the sniffles. I am partial to bringing Anadin Extra for when I have a headache, as these seem to work for me. I bring Ibuprofen, but you can buy this in China. I also bring a codeine based cough medicine – pholcodeine linctus – for when I have a cold/cough that drops onto my chest.  I have looked and I can’t find anything similar here, and I know this works for me. Also useful is Olbas Oil for steaming that jammed up head and blocked sinuses  – I’ve not seen this in China either.


If you are older I recommend that you have the flu jab here in China. Like the UK you cannot get the jab until late September/October. This is something to do with them having to decide which strain of the flu will be dominant this year I think.  It costs 100rmb. When you get here, at first, you will be taken for another medical so your employer can apply for your resident’s visa.  This should be the place where you will get the flu jab. Check it out whilst you are there.

If you take regular medication ask your doctor for a big prescription. My doctor told me the biggest he could give me was three months supply.  Fortunately the Omeprazole the doctor prescribed for reflux is available over the counter here.  Plus after leaving my job in the UK I no longer get stress-induced heartburn – a little bit of beer induced reflux – occasionally.

There is a whole raft of drugs available over the counter here that is only available on prescription in the UK, everything from antibiotics to Viagra if you need it. If you know what drugs your doctor prescribes for you, then the likelihood is that you can get them here. Although I cannot get the migraine medication (Maxalt Melt 10mg oral lyophilisates) the doctor prescribes and the ones I use now are out of date since January 2014 – they still work though, and like my reflux, since I left work I hardly have a migraine now. But this summer I will get another 3 months supply.  I also buy Prednisolone, which is the steroid the doctor prescribes for me when I have an infected chest after a cold or flu.  So I can get the same antibiotics and the same steroid that my doctor prescribes in the UK over the counter for pennies to be honest and they work.  Use the pharmacies on the main streets you will see some of them are chain stores. If you stick to these big stores you will not get fakes.

Interestingly if you go to buy Tylenol– the US flu remedy in China you need to show your passport – something to do with the methamphetamine you can produce from it. Blooming good stuff though if you need to teach through a cold or flu.

Re illegal drugs – they are available, but do you really want to spend time in a Chinese prison?  Just say no.  Take note: In China, sentencing for drug trafficking could include capital punishment. For example, the seizure of 50 grams or more of heroin or crystal methamphetamine could result in the use of the death penalty by the Government.

It’s not pretty – be warned.

Just as a final note I recently asked my students to write a pros and cons essay about the death penalty – the majority were in favour!

Death 2

Chapter 4 – Doctor X flies to China

Soon I am going to China

An adventure in my later years

Escaping the tedium of the office, and salary and the nine to five slog

Doggy waiting to be packed

I have had Darling Daughter stay with me every other weekend practically since she was born. Like most dad’s I really wanted to be a twenty-four – seven, three hundred and sixty five days a year dad, but that wasn’t to be. I have tried to be the best dad I could be. I love my Darling Daughter, but I too have a life.


The goodbyes were swift and painful, tears were spilt, but it was best they got in their car and just went – I had a plane to catch.

Cathay Pacific