Monday, March 17, 2014

Adventures at the pharmacy

So lately I have run into one ailment after the next. My boss told me that in Kunming during this time of year, it is really easy to get sick. It would seem that way. She also said that Kunming produces some special medicine that I should try out if I get sick, and I took her advice. I have made a few trips to the pharmacy recently, and I thought I would share some of the things I got, because they are slightly different that what you get in your western pharmacopeia.

Last Friday, I came down with a little cold. I picked up some "Cold Medicine." This medicine is specifically for colds caused by excessive heat in the body. The ingredients include parsnip, dwarf lillyturf root, bitter almond, dried orange peel, and mulberry root bark, among other things. It comes in packets of powder to be mixed with water. The taste is bitter, and seems to help me feel better during the day. 

The next day, I developed a cough, and so I picked up some cough syrup, which also seems to be completely made up of herbal ingredients, including loquat leaf, mulberry root bark, and menthol.

Then to my surprise and dismay, and slight disbelief, my cold had given rise to this earache that I developed, according to the pharmacist. He suggested that I pick up a pack of "Gentian Root to Soothe the Liver." He said the pain in my ear was caused by my liver fire being excessively strong. Again, full of herbs. He also said I should pick up a pack of these mysterious white pills.

So I get all this stuff home, and I am taking these white pills, and I'm like WOW these taste awful. And then I crack open the instruction manual, to find that these pills are definitely not Chinese medicine, and that they are in fact antibiotics. Over the counter antibiotics! This always drives me crazy that you just purchase them like that. Especially given the fact that the pharmacist didn't even bother to tell me what they were, even though I specifically requested no western medicine. I'd been taking them one a day on and off for a while there! Not good! Really not happy about that situation!

So anyways, after like 4 days of this, I have a fully stocked home pharmacy, a lingering cough and a nasty ear infection. In the beginning, this whole getting sick thing was somewhat of a novelty, but now I kind of just wish this earache would go away. I should probably just throw in the towel and go to the doctor, I don't really know what I didn't do that in the first place. But there is a little introduction for you about medicines in China! Cheers, R.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Taobao Account is now up and running!

Dear Folks,

Hello! I've gotten through yet another eventful week here in Kunming. So many thing's have happened: I successfully got myself out of a scam (<-- read the story), I wrote lots of reports at work, and most importantly, I got my Taobao account up and running!

Some of you probably don't know what Taobao is, but it is a fantastic online service, similar to Amazon, where you can buy all sorts of great stuff online, and get it delivered straight to your door within a matter of days. It also runs under the name Alibaba, and is available all over domestic China,  I think even including some options for international delivery. Check it out here.

Unlike the states, China has a really robust group domestic delivery services, I'm not sure exactly how many, but many many more than your standard UPS/Fedex dichotomy, a fact which makes shipping really convenient. For example, I ordered coffee from Hangzhou, and it got to me here in Kunming a day and a half later (that is over 2000 kilometers folks). I was in the a delivery service office around 6pm on a saturday, and someone comes in asking if there was still time to put something out in the last shipment, and they were like oh-yeah-sure-no-problem.

Taobao is really popular in China, everyone has an account. People buy clothes, electronics, kitchen supplies, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, even food! What had me sold was that I could buy a french press coffee maker and ground coffee beans, something you'd be hard pressed to find in any regular grocery store (believe me I've looked). Another really convenient aspect about Taobao is that once you have your account set up, you can use the payment system to add value to your cell phone account, and to pay for other daily expenses.

So all in all, my life has been made easier now that I have Taobao! I can just go online, find what I want, at a fixed price, and have it delivered to me. This is so much easier than going out and hunting for whatever obscure item I want, wondering how much it is, asking the shop keeper, wondering if I should haggle, feebly trying to haggle for a moment, paying the (probably exorbitant) price, and lugging the thing home... It was totally worth all that time I spent trying to set up my account; it literally took me three entire weeks to get it right, between all the security checks the have on there, all the passwords they require you to make, all the calls to customer service.

Haha but Taobao, I commend you. You are pretty awesome. If you want to make an account, make sure that you make the payment account, 支付宝, FIRST, then open the taobao account itself, this will save you some time. Also, if you have any questions about opening account, ask me down below. I made all the mistakes possible when I opened mine, so I may be able to help you sort out your situation. Anyways, happy shopping everyone, 购物愉快!