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Archive for the 'Dramas' Category

Kidnapping in Shenzhen

This story came through a friend of a friend at another company… you get the idea. It's about a Hong Kong businessman's lucky escape in Shenzhen. Scary stuff.

What happened to me on Friday 3rd September 2004…

2:00p.m.I had a presentation in Futian Shenzhen for a potential new project, I was with David, after the meeting we were on a taxi back to the train station, I suggested I pass by to see Mr. Cheung our client and collect some old debts that he promised to pay at least 3 months ago.

4:15p.m.I was dropped off the taxi to meet Mr. Cheung, I spoke to him about the money owing to us and he said he would talk to me next week, we took the lift together to the ground floor, he then continued to the basement garage, I saw him leaving the building in a white Mercedes.

4:45p.m.I left the building on foot to the railway station which was about 20 minutes walk, I have done this route before at least dozen of times, along the road to the station, there are lots of starry eyes and people approaching me asking for something or offering something to sell, however I always manage to ignore them and walk as quickly as possible to my destination, only this time I felt sorry for a little boy 12-13 years old selling VCDs, I wanted to help him by buying some VCDs, he has followed me for about a street long.

5:00p.m.on Peace Boulevard, Shenzhen, not far from Shangri-La Hotel, I turned a street corner with this innocent boy, which turned out he was far from being innocent, he is part of a syndicate for kidnapping, I was grabbed by 3 strong guys all dressed in black in broad day light in to a white van, naturally I resisted, I was beaten with a wooden stick on the head and on my arms, it happened so fast that I did not really remember how many more punches I have taken, kicked on the knees and finally I was driven away in the van, my face was on the floor, I was tied up very tight with sticky tapes, because I have resisted being taken away, they tied me up so tight, both my hands were swollen due to lack of  blood circulation, then I was taken to an apartment I noticed the floor was still under construction, the apartment was bare, only a bench was there, I was quickly taken to a room, I think that was the only room in the apartment, the 3 gangsters in black then tied my feet up tight with sticky tapes, took everything out of my pockets, naturally they found my credit cards, bank cards and starting to ask me for the PIN numbers, this time I did not resist because I risk to be beaten up more seriously than my current state, I can barely open my left eye and my left temple was seriously swollen, even I told them the real PIN number they continue to beat me on the chest and kicked me real hard on the left side hip which broke 2 of my rib bones, I was in great pain but they did not stop, I did not know what was the problem, a fourth gangster arrived with all my cards in his hand and go through in detail the cards and their PIN numbers, one of which was my wife’s and I did not know her PIN number, one of the gangster took a syringe filled with clear liquid he claimed it was filled with cocaine and put the needle to my skin, I finally told him to shoot the syringe because I did not know the PIN number, he then realize that I was not bluffing, in the mean time they must have started to withdraw money from my accounts, because suddenly everything was quiet.  All the gangsters spoke only Mandarin without a word in Cantonese.

The window in the room was sealed, it was impossible to tell the time, they told me after they take my money they will let me go, but as they discovered I had large amount of cash in my account they decided not to let me go or may be kill me. Accident can happen…in the mean time I try to put myself together and think clearly deciding what I should do since there was no way anyone can find me here, I am the only one who can help myself.

In 3 days, I ate nothing and drank very little, I was being careful checking the plastic water bottle to see if it was drugged by feeling with my fingers to see if it was punctured and the cap was sealed, the food was obviously drugged, I need to be conscious and be able to escape if I had a chance. Saturday was very long, actually every second was very long, with my hand tied very tight for 3 days my muscle begin to ache and feel extremely uncomfortable almost drove me crazy, all the time I was kidnapped the 3 men in black never left me, when I lied on the floor, two of them would lie next to me and the third one facing me, so forced escape was not an option, even if I managed to escape I would not know where I am or which direction to run. It was amazing how thoughts quickly go through my mind, I was desperate to save my own life, which was in great danger, and I was a hostage. All that time I was thinking of my wife, what would she be doing to find me.  Make police report… sending rescue team…

Saturday possibly late in the evening I need to start an escape plan because I know no one would come to rescue, I started to pretend I was struggling for oxygen and having difficulty in breathing, making that awful inhaling noise which I watched my dad before he died due to lungs damaged from smoking cigarettes, I was persistent throughout the night possibly for 12 hours non-stop I pretended to faint with painful expressions every 3 to 4 minutes, finally on Sunday, the mafia boss came to see me, one of the gangster turned sympathetic and spoke to me just before the mafia boss arrive and warned me not to drink or take pain killer pills from the mafia boss, good enough he offered me water to drink and pills for pains, I refused to take and told him I would die if I did not leave the room soon and take my medicine, after a very long while possibly 2-3 hours he decided to let me go, he gave me 10 RMB for taxi and took 260 HK$ from my wallet. Soon, one of the gangster grabbed me and took me to the street, as I stepped out of the building, I saw my tears falling like rain dropping on the pavement, crowded people in the street were doing their business as nothing has happened, I walked straight and turned the corner flagged the first taxi I saw and went straight to the train station, the time was Sunday 1p.m. I went through Chinese and Hong Kong Immigration with my left eye hugely swollen and black, my hands badly swollen, my face and neck cut and bruised none of the immigration officers from both sides of the border asked if I needed help. I also had a fever.

My first stop in LoWu Station was the police station and I called my wife to let her know that I was back in Hong Kong alive, she was in Shenzhen with a group of friends including David filing a missing person report in the Chinese police station, their experience with the local police were absolutely hopeless, they were not interested to help, the same goes for the Hong Kong police not much they can do until someone died. What police attitudes, my wife also called the Canadian Embassy for help and they responded 4 days later. All this time my wife was suffering equally, desperately seeking help from every possible means, in her mind without doubts I was kidnapped but none of the police would believe her, feeling extremely helpless, she spent 2 sleepless nights very stressful and frustrating experience that was.

I have spent 5 days in 2 hospitals luckily I am alive. The gangsters managed to get away with low 6 digits cash amount from my cards… did you know that you can transfer up to 50,000$ per day to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and withdraw cash immediately?

My conclusion is these gangsters are not from Shenzhen, they are from other parts of China, so it can happen anywhere in China, if you have to go on a business trip to China, do not bring your personal credit cards, bank ATM cards, bring only your business credit card and cash. They are desperate for your money; the crime bureau in Hong Kong recorded over 30 reported similar cases per month.

Drowning the rats

We're safely back in Australia but there's one little event that happened on the way that's worth sharing.

We were taking our standard path to the airport and all was going well. As we drew near to the Sheung Shui KCR rail station I noticed that things outside were looking a little shiny - it had started to rain. I don't mean that it had started to drizzle, I mean that a tropical thunderstorm decided to roll through and empty itself right over us!

Pouring Rain

The thunderstorm would have all been fine except for one small thing - the 75m open air dash from the train station to the bus shelter to wait for the A43 bus to the airport!

The buses come about every 30 minutes and for a few minutes we nervously waited at the exit to the train station for the rain to ease, hoping that the bus would not come. Water was flowing like sheets all over the ground and the rain was torrential, showing no signs of abating.

Not wanting to mis the bus we decided to make a bolt for it. With luggage and back-packs we bolted for the bus stop. About half way there my case hit a bump which sent my laptop flying whereupon it landed in the water. I madly grabbed it and continued my bolt.

Drowned Rats

At the bus stop we took stock - we were drowned like rats. Water was dripping from our heads, our glasses were covered in water and we were wet through. For the next hour we shivered our way through the 1 hour air-conditioned bus ride to the airport.

At the airport we took turns to go the toilets to change out of wet clothes and/or dry clothes under the hand dryers. The only harm done was a couple of clothing items in my case had wet spots on them. The laptop was, thankfully, dry. We warmed ourselves with a hot drink, ditched all bottles that were over 100mL in size in accordance with the new hand luggage regulations and readied ourself for the 8 hour flight to Perth.

Filling Finale

After six visits to the dentist I have finally finished having all my dental work done. Hooray!

Apart from the first visit, all subsequent visits have been for the root canal treatment. This time the remainder of the treatment was conducted, consisting of two conventional small cavities on the face of my upper rear molars and the abrasion wear on the face of my right-hand side incisors near the gum line. 

For doing all these things a local anaesthetic, called a block, was injected close to the nerve entry point into the respective teeth. Given that 7 teeth were treated, and each tooth required 2 injections (one on each side), I felt like a regular pin cushion by the time the dentist had finished. Once again, my nervous system set about fervently dealing with the anaesthetic, requiring an extra two injections for one of my teeth before the dentist could proceed.

As I was leaving the dentist I realised that the whole roof of my mouth had become numb. As a consequence, I was having a reflex response of trying to swallow my own tongue. As I walked to the lift I started dry retching. Talking became a strictly 'essential communication only' thing to do because it stimulated the retching response. Fortunately, it settled down about half an hour later as the anaesthetic wore off.

I've been really, really pleased with the dental clinic. The dentist always explained what she was going to do, explained the X-rays, knew what she was talking about and was very helpful right throughout the whole process. They even gave me a courtesy reminder call one day before each visit. I am very pleased with the results. I highly recommend Bayley & Jackson Dental Surgeons in Hong Kong.

Actually, crown my tooth with one crown, but hey, who's counting?

On Friday I received the final treatment for the root canal treatment, namely the fitment of the dental crown to the tooth. The crown is a 'porcelain fused to metal' type. The underside of the crown is a gold alloy and the porcelain exterior is formed in a shape to match the old tooth.

I asked to have a look at the tooth before fitting the crown, but after removal of the temporary acrylic crown. After reassuring the dentist that I wouldn't get nightmares she let me take a look. It's an unusual feeling to look into your mouth and see that part of a tooth is missing. My molar was now a white chiselled upside-down mini food container sort of shape, already prepared to accept it's new hat. Interesting, most interesting…

The level of detail in the crown is very high and I am very pleased with what the dentist has asked to be done by the crown lab. She has had the back of the tooth crown made a smidge shorter than the original tooth (a tiny amount) to try and encourage my partially-erupted wisdom tooth to move out and upwards a little to a more normal position, especially useful since the teeth in my mouth are over-crowded. The back surface of the crown is partially exposed metal, so is a small strip on the tongue-side of the crown where it meets the gum line. If the wisdom tooth ever has to come out this will minimise the risk of damage to the crown during the procedure. They did an amazing job of matching the colour of the crown to my other teeth. They even got the colour variance across the tooth just right, creamy down in the valley of the tooth and whiter up on the cuspals. It's a little piece of art and craftsmanship all in itself.

As for the pain… I successfully achieved my goal of going through the entire procedure without having to take a single pain killer cool . The dentist injected some local anaesthetic for two of the four procedures, granted, but I didn't really have a choice about that. Oh yeah!

My marred molar came under the dentist's drill for the third time last Friday. This treatment involved all the preparation work for the dental crown. Over the course of the treatment moulds were taken of all the teeth on the left-hand side about 4 times. The top section of the remaining tooth was suitably shaped and a temporary acrylic crown was fitted. During the coming week a ceramic crown will be made in the lab to be fitted next week. The usual rules apply - no eating crunchy foods, no chewing on the left-hand side, etc. All of this took about an hour.

The human body is an amazing thing. Although I have no nerves left in that tooth it was almost as if my body was compensating for the missing nerves. Despite that part of my gums being anaesthetised it was like I could still feel the dentist's drill on the top of my tooth. I suspect that my nervous system was inferring the activity on the tooth, mapping the partial sensations in the gum up to the top of the tooth!

The partial numbing of my mouth had an interesting effect. I had limited control over my lower left lip. The first time I went to rinse my mouth out I shot a perfect stream of water straight over the wash basin and onto the floor! All I had to do each time was swish the water around in my mouth and… *squirt*… a perfect water jet!  lol

Toothy toothy

Friday saw me back in the Hong Kong dentist's chair for round #2 on the root canal treatment on my molar. This time the temporary filling was removed, the treatment fluid washed out, yet more cleaning and canal scraping, synthetic roots cemented in place and trimmed to length and finally another temporary filling placed on top.

At the start of the treatment the dentist pushed and prodded at a few things near the tooth, each time asking if it hurt. I was in no pain whatsoever so she gave me the option of doing it all without an anaesthetic, my choice. I decided that sans anaesthesia would be the way to go. This was all going fine until on two occasions the canal file touched the tip of the remaining nerve at the bottom of the canal, sending a sharp pain into my jaw. Instead of having a local anaesthetic injected, the dentist dribbled it down into the canal, dulling the nerves only at the base of the tooth. After a minute or so there was no more pain. 

At the end of the treatment the dentist asked me if I had brought the pain killers with me that she gave me last week. I had inadvertently left them behind. She looked at me with a knowing smile and said that this week it was going to hurt more than last week because I now had the synthetic roots in my tooth. I departed with another round of pain killers, little orange ones this time. Fortunately, I have experienced almost no pain whatsoever and I didn't even contemplate taking one of the little magic pills. 

Last week there was some pain when the anaesthetic wore off after the pulp extraction, however that subsided in a day or two and I managed to get through without taking any pain killers. I now have a mental goal - finish the root canal treatment without pain killers.
My masticator is all set for next week, round #3. Bring it on… Guns

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