Awesome Mops of China China has 1.3 billion people and 5.4 million mops. This is their story Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:57:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 39797015 Cissy Wang Has Big Dreams Thu, 23 Jun 2016 08:56:54 +0000 IMG_2131

Cissy Wang had a thing for monks. If monks could have a fan club, she would have been their president.

The president for all of the monks. All of them.

She was that big of a fan.

She was in the third year of a business administration course at Huazhong Agricultural University. She had a great future ahead. Her parents were sure of that.

She would make a lot of money managing industrial watermelon fields. The bigger the better. Or if not watermelons, then fruit trees or pigs. Industrial mega pig farms! She’d be raking in the red envelopes, left, right and center.

A boon to society!

Her teachers, however, weren’t so sure.

Over the course of her three years at Huazhong Agricultural University, her attendance had become erratic. Several staff members had spotted her sneaking away from her unheated dorm room at 4:30am, heading in the direction of the nearest Buddhist monastery in her bathrobe and slippers, to wait at the gate for the monks’ morning procession.

She was always there, ready and waiting, in time for the great thunk of the morning hitting of the big chunk of wood and the clanging of the morning temple bell.

Her accounts on Renren and Weibo were chockablock with phone photos of blurry brown robes, blurry sandaled feet, blurry shaved heads, all decorated with animated hearts, anime cats and glitter GIFs.

Her essays for her course consisted mostly of descriptions of the monastery’s little vegetable patch.

Charts and graphs created on Google Sheets to monitor the growth of their carrots and their squash. Tables to estimate what they might be worth if sold in the local market. Rhetorical pieces on why it was morally wrong to grow more than you needed to live on.

Sometimes at the weekend she dragged her friends to come with her, to hang out at the front gates to watch the afternoon prayer processions.

One time, she recorded the prayer bells and the thunk of the wooden board and used that sample in a dance remix at the local disco. No one quite knew how to dance to it. There was a lot of awkward swaying.

One more year of accounting classes and she would be in there, inside that gate, where she belonged. She was ready.

Or, if not, then she’d still be their biggest fan. The president of their fan club. All of their fan clubs. All of their fan clubs and she’d be the business manager of that industrial mega pig farm.

It could go either way, really.

Tang XiaoXiao Wishes Rags Were Excluded Tue, 21 Jun 2016 01:01:45 +0000 door mops


Beijing’s new all-genders toilet ruling was definitely a step forward for the city’s diverse and unrepresented masses.

The standard mops, the short handled mops, the average brooms, the hastily assembled straw brooms, the twig brooms, the Swiffers, the microfiber mops, the mops with rotating heads, the mops with string heads and the mops with rag strip heads, the feather dusters and the sponge mops, all welcomed without prejudice into any bar or cafe or government office toilet.

The rush of emotions felt following this unexpected declaration of inclusion was short lived, however.

Tang XiaoXiao had been queuing for a week now at her office’s lone toilet and was feeling desperately uncomfortable.

What was that rag doing in there?


Ren Bing Freaks Out in Inner Mongolia Wed, 29 Apr 2015 06:20:06 +0000 Theodora Mongolia



Ren Bing was frankly surprised that the tiny bouncer in the Mongolian Bar in Lanqi, Inner Mongolia,  had been able to take him down so  easily and readily with just a running tackle.

The lead up to the tackle was, he admitted, a bit foggy. So much of the fierce munggu jiu had been flowing freely.

Shots done over mutton hotpot.

Strip poker with a local who was adamant that he was a direct descendant of Chinggiz Khan, local hero.

More shots.



And the sudden realization that he was, in fact, Kublai Khan! It all made sense!

He wasn’t Ren Bing, junior accountant from Shanghai, in Inner Mongolia for an accounting conference!

He was Kublai Khan!

Kublai fucking Khan!

He needed to get to Xanadu immediately to build a stately pleasure dome! It would have a bath house and a rooftop helipad and lots of huge, flat screen TVs and lots of enthusiastic KTV girls!

Luckily, Xanadu was just up the road.

Inner Mongolia was very convenient.

He remembered heading in what he thought was the approximate direction of Xanadu, with a sword he’d borrowed from the bar’s wall decor in hand, ready to battle any foes who objected to his mission.



The tiny bouncer’s elbow dug into his ribs.

Ren Bing sighed.

The first presentation of the accounting conference was due to start at 8am.

Xanadu would have to wait.

Mongolian mop photo courtesy of the Awesome Theodora of

Jie Sike Has an Unnerving Spa Day Wed, 22 Apr 2015 05:06:07 +0000 kristina2


Jie Sike was very familiar with all of the self care establishments around Shanghai.

She’d tried them all: the burping and farting blind masseurs, the fancy soft-lit Drangonfly spa days with hot stones and pedicures, the decadently indulgent private rooms where you could gorge yourself on bottomless free grass jelly and pork buns whilst having your deep tissues effectively gouged and groped, the grimy hole-in-the-wall foot massage parlors that offered happy endings (but not necessarily with your feet).

She’d tried them all, yes.

Those were lovely, for the most part. Got the qi flowing. Well worth the money.

This one was different. Sure, she had used a discount coupon, given to her by a colleague who was a regular customer, and sure it was a bit cheaper than even the grimmest of the grim foot massage joints, but she hadn’t expected it to be, well, outside. On the sidewalk.

The concrete scratched the back of her neck as they roughly kneaded her shoulders.  The dish soap they used instead of coconut oil made her sneeze and itch.

This wasn’t as relaxing as she had hoped it would be.

She wasn’t sure if she wanted to come back again.

She felt a pang of guilt, however, as her colleague had given her two coupons.

Awesome Mop courtesy of the awesome Kristina

Zhang Yi Observes the Observant Wed, 04 Mar 2015 01:55:56 +0000 templemop


Although he had been in Hanoi for nearly a year, Zhang Yi was still adjusting to the constantly evolving culture shock. The past few weeks had been particularly startling to his sensibilities. For one, the lunar new year had come and gone without any massive random explosions.

Sure, the local government had allotted fifteen minutes toward official fireworks over Hoan Kiem lake at midnight for Tet. But where were the other celebrations? How can you bring in the new year without three days of non-stop fire crackers and fireworks, purchased in bulk from your friendly neighbourhood unlicensed vendor?

No apartment buildings had caught fire; no stray dogs had been singed; no pig farms had burned to a bacony crisp.

Instead, after the gently restrained fireworks display, the populace spent the next fortnight assembling offerings of Orion Choco Pies, fruit, cigarettes and tiny mixer cans of Coke for their dead (who weren’t killed by the fireworks, obviously), praying earnestly in the temples and getting wise men in shiny robes to write letters to god for them.

Zhang Yi leaned back against the trunk of the tree outside the bustling local temple and sighed.

How would you get wealth and success in the new year without blowing stuff up? If there really were gods out there, you’d have to catch their attention first before they’d listen to you. That’s how it works.

Ding BaoBao is Utterly Disillusioned Sat, 03 Jan 2015 09:04:07 +0000 Ding


Ding Bao Bao took a long acrid drag on his cigarette. It was one of the last from the carton of Double Happiness that he had brought down from Shanghai. He felt utterly dejected.
An accomplished architect he was. With years of experience! And countless new developments under his belt! And accolades! Lots of accolades.

In China, that is.

Here in Hanoi, it was different.

He had wanted to break into international building development markets but he was quickly coming to the realization that Vietnam maybe wasn’t the right place to be a Chinese architect.

The other night, for example, Tranh from the office joked, ‘what do you call a building that falls over before it’s even built?’ And everyone guffawed in unison, ‘a Chinese building!’.

And then there were the construction workers who teased him, asking if they should build the new shopping plaza so that it collapses sooner rather than later to save everyone from the stress of waiting.

No respect! No respect at all.

He was gutted. None of his buildings had fallen over. Not yet, anyway. He was pretty careful.

He stubbed out his cigarette and braced himself to go back into the office.

]]> 1486 Hou Yiqin Emerges From the Beneficial Fog Sat, 14 Dec 2013 09:14:07 +0000


The fog had been particularly thick in Shanghai or the past week, foggier than it had been back in her home city of Xi’an. Visibility in places had been reduced to mere metres at times. When she walked down the street holding hands with her boyfriend, they often couldn’t see past their own elbows. What lay beneath and beyond was just a ghost of a shadow, a touch, a fleeting outline. Even the bright colours and patterns of her sleeve covers had faded away, nearly invisible at the pink elasticated wrist.

Hou Yiqin wasn’t terribly worried about it though, as CCTV’s website had reassured the nation that there were five specific benefits to the remarkably crunchy, grey air, and no named drawbacks:

1. It unifies Chinese people.

2. It makes China more equal.

3. It raises citizen awareness.

4. Chinese people are funnier when they are contending with deadly smog.

5. The haze makes Chinese people more knowledgeable.

However, what did surprise Hou, after the Hazardous reading had lifted and the PM 2.5 levels had comfortingly sunk back down to merely Very Unhealthy, were the strange and unexpected mushrooms growing out of her hair. It wasn’t as though she hadn’t bathed during the days of the heavy fog. She was a meticulously clean person, carefully washing her hair every second day. She had carefully boiled a kettle of water and poured it into a big plastic bowl, adding cool water to soften the heat.  Hunched over the steaming plastic bowl, enveloped in the thick grey fog, she had lathered and rinsed as usual. What she hadn’t done for days, however, was to check out her appearance in a mirror.

What, she wondered, as she slumped down against the bathroom ‘s damp tiled wall, was really in that fog?


Awesome Mop photo courtesy of the very generous Joy Fischer. 

Niamh Seeks a New Life in Wuhan Tue, 20 Aug 2013 15:32:00 +0000 niamh


Niamh stood at the open balcony window of her new apartment and smiled.  A new life. She’d managed to grab an east-facing apartment. It was warm and cosy in the morning and refreshingly cool in the evening, as far as one could refer to Wuhan’s stifling heat as cool. Niamh was ready for a new life.

She’d left her good for nothing Shanghai boyfriend (who had been locked up for selling drugs to the contestants of “The Voice Of China”) behind and headed for Wuhan, where men still deserved to be called gentlemen and treated women right.

Turning away from the window she nodded to herself. Tonight she would go out with a new bunch of friends to find herself a handsome Wuhan beau.

Mop and caption courtesy of Selly, who also just landed in Wuhan

Wang Cheng and He Guang Sort Out the Financial Spirit World Around Their New Shop Wed, 29 May 2013 13:29:49 +0000 IMG_2671

He Guang’s ears were ringing. He gazed up at the hazy noon sky, his eyes still unfocused, bits of red, sulphury firecracker paper lodged in the various nooks and crannies along his body. With two sharp, focused exhalations, he expelled a cluster of scarlet detritus from each nostril then tentatively sat up. His head was killing him. The blast had thrown him to the ground with surprising force.

Wang Cheng, his business partner, was beaming. They had let off three hundred rounds of explosives in the area in front of their new perfume and pencil shop, which, by his calculations, would bring them massive profits of approximately 10,000 times the value of the fireworks. That would do nicely, to start with.

Business was bound to be good. Knee deep in tattered red paper, with more still raining down on them like bloody snow, it would be impossible for them to fail now.

The Strong Potential Fragrant Calligraphy MegaStore was now open for business!

]]> 1459 Guo DingDing Mon, 27 May 2013 00:58:22 +0000 mop3



Guo DingDing was 33 years old and newly married.

His parents had been on his case for years to find a wife. His mother had even put up his CV at the People’s Square Marriage Market and had spent countless weekends head hunting an appropriate wife for him. None were quite right, though he couldn’t articulate exactly why.

And then he met her! Lovely Ping! His fabulous new bride!

No one needed to know that Ping was happily shacked up with her long term girlfriend. After all, DingDing and his boyfriend Gao Dan had been going steady for over a decade.

The four of them found a large duplex in Putuo and moved in together. If family visited, they now had a cover.

Guo DingDing was elated. While his new wife stood watch, he gave Dan a celebratory snog.

All was well in the world.