Chasing the Dragon – Living on the Edge
A book by Rainer Thomm. I had the pleasure to meet the author on 7 July 2017 who kindly signed his book. Since then Rainer has moved to Shunde in Guangdong Province and we are in contact again.
I could not find a link to buy Chasing the Dragon; nothing on Amazon and nothing either about the Publisher (China Wallaby News). Price as marked on the cover: AUD 60 and CNY 360. Read down below the reason!
Rainer introduces his book:
These are the stories told to me by Lester Gattini, an Australian mate of mine, about his experiences over many years in China. Son of Italian immigrants, Les is a genius at spinning a yarn and he certainly knows how to hold his grog. Over the years Les and I have had more all-night sessions than either of us can remember and downed more booze than might have killed most other men. His story in many ways reads like my own. Like me, Les has both survived the lows and tasted the heights of joy in making his way in the Land of the Dragon.
No, no, not about drugs
According to Wikipedia:
“Chasing the dragon” is a slang phrase of Cantonese origin from Hong Kong referring to inhaling the vapor from a heated solution of morphine, heroin, oxycodone, opium, or ya ba (a pill containing caffeine and methamphetamine). The “chasing” occurs as the user gingerly keeps the liquid moving in order to keep it from overheating and burning up too quickly, on a heat conducting material such as aluminium foil. The moving smoke is chased after with a tube through which the user inhales.
My book report
The protagonist (Les) gives an honest and unpretentious view on his China (mis)adventures, showing aspects of China most books ignore. He talks about his discouraging experience working for a foreign company that ignores the reality of China’s harsh business environment, about how the Chinese side is basically cheating as much as possible, the foreign head office remaining blind till it all goes under. A pretty familiar story to me. So many foreign investors simply lose their pants here and disappear in silence.
After the life of a pampered expat with car and expensive dinners he starts his own business. Then his mode of living and dealing with housing is pretty disastrous, exposing the dark side of reality for foreigners living here on a cheap budget. An example not to follow. He does not explain why he always makes the wrong choice, is it because of his small budget? One really has to be careful dealing with rentals. He always ends up with a unpleasant experience of trying to stay somewhere “local”. His story of going through a complicated surgery is also pretty interesting.
Some pretty colorful anecdotes about his travels around Beijing and in the provinces. He certainly had a lot of courage…
His love life is also pretty messed up and he makes many mistakes. At the end of the book however it seems he found love in a new relationship.
In conclusion an interesting book if one wants to know how life can be for a foreigner far away from the golden expat life and confirming one lesson: beware of all the cheating and harassment by many Chinese while there are also nice and reliable friends to be made.
How to get his books
There is no reference to Chasing the Dragon on the Internet. It was a private publication, and Rainer says he would not write it like that again. He is working on a rewrite called “Dancing with the Dragon”.
He has a stack of copies in storage in Beijing and I will get some copies, those interested can contact me.
More about his other books in a future post. Yeah I discovered I have his other book, “China Mission Impossible”. I have to read it again! My library has several other “forgotten” books I need to read.