One year of Antics


We've hit one year and 100 posts at the Anthill. If you're in Beijing, come celebrate at our drinks night at Cuju bar next Monday. In the last year we've had over 40,000 visits and are up to 4,000 monthly unique visitors. Over 20 writers have joined the colony – why not submit a story to join the colony too? Special thanks to Beijing CreamHAL publishingSam Duncan and Tom Pellman.

We're taking this opportunity to dig up some gems from the archive that new readers might have missed. Happy reading, and don't forget to follow our Facebook and Twitter.

The Boss of Houhai

A hutong mafiosa in pajamas – by Tom Pellman

He sits on a wooden bench outside the hot dog and burger stand at the corner of Nanluoguxiang and Jingyang hutong, near Houhai lake, dragging hard on his cigarette with the coolness of a Mafia boss. He’s wearing flannel pajamas, flip-flops and a thick gold chain around his neck, a pack of Yuxi’s drooping low in his breast pocket. His nose looks like it’s been broken and he has a prominent black mole that extends from the corner of his right eye like a fat tear.

Finding My Way

Revelations from a Taoist mystic – by Alec Ash

The priest ushered me into a back room and beckoned for me to sit on a stool, while he parked himself behind an oversized wooden desk and gathered scraps of blank paper around him. I had the creeping feeling that whatever Taoist magic I was going to witness was going to cost me.

“What astrological year do you belong to?” the priest asked me in Chinese, picking up a byro pen and scribbling his prediction on a scrap. “The ox,” I said.

The priest scrumpled up the paper he had written on, and threw it to one side.

The Bandit Train

Strangers on a train, with bad intentions – by Michael Taylor

I spent the next few hours drifting in and out of sleep, very aware of the fact that I was being watched, and trying to shake off the heroin I had been spiked with. I looked again at the group across the aisle. The leader looked me in the eyes and asked if I knew what “si er” meant. I hazarded a guess at forty two. He shook his head and made a throat slitting motion with his finger across his neck. Then I remembered that the word for death in chinese is “si”.

The Dumpling Party

In which our hero battles a salty egg – by Richard Loria

I detect the scent of my nemesis, the Salty Egg, drifting in the air. I first encountered the S.E. on day two of my homestay with the Che’s. I dug in, eager to show my gratitude. I may have been a bit over-zealous, because Elyse said “O wow” and burst into laughter. My face flushed red. My throat contracted. I forced the Salty Egg down anyway, sending my gullet into momentary perdition.

“Life is an Internet Café”

A chance encounter in the middle of nowhere – by Cobus Block

I spotted a row of hotels across the street and mentioned that I should find a room for the night. She shook her head and told me those were bad hotels, I should just sleep in a wangba. A wangbais one of China’s less than sanitary Internet cafés. The name literally translates as “net bar” — which is remarkably appropriate, as they have a knack for combining the worst attributes of both the Internet and a bar.

The Cornfield and the Graveyard

Two generations pay their respects – by E.C. Addle

“This has to be the first time a foreign devil has been to this part of China,” one of the local farmers whispered.

The foreign devil didn’t feel particularly out of place though. I had been preparing for this journey for some time, a lifetime perhaps. The field, the farmhouse and the farmers all seemed to be part of a distant reality for me. My mind, for the moment, was solely focused on my wife.

The Metaphor Pusher

In search of a story – fiction by Aaron Fox-Lerner

Among the hordes of Indian and Pakistani men pushing for you to buy hashish, hostels and rolexes you hear a voice offering metaphors for cheap. You only realise it after you've stepped out of Chungking Mansions into the dense Hong Kong night air, and by that time the voice has disappeared into the dozens of milling figures, now mobbing some poor Asian tourist dumb enough to stop for them.

Also check out poems by Canaan Morse and Rob Schackne, short stories from Katrina Hamlin and Aaron Fox-Lerner, and my interviews with the likes of Tom CarterBrendan O'KaneChan Koonchung, and Chris Patten.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget you can submit your own and join the colony too!