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Archive for August, 2007

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.

Headless men beware!


This was taken in Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui, in a McDonald's entry way that was under renovation. Righto, I've got it. I'll keep an eye out for my head. )  

Revenge of Pabuk

It seems I was a bit premature in considering tropical cyclone Pabuk a waste of effort. After reducing in strength to a tropical storm it did a u-turn and headed straight back over Hong Kong. This was enough to get the Tropical Cyclone warning in Hong Kong up to level 8 at 3pm on Friday afternoon.

At level 8, most Hong Kong shops close, the KCR rail system considers shutting down and everyone goes home. Because we were meeting a cousin in the HK airport that night it meant we had to skedaddle off to Hong Kong immediately. All the Hong Kong residents working in Shenzhen and surrounding China scurried to the border too.

The wind and rain came that night, although not to the level I was expecting. Being the first cyclone of the season I think someone was a bit trigger happy on the Typhoon warning system. 


Well, tropical cycloe Pabuk turned out to be a bit of a fizzer. It's been quite a while since a cyclone came any where near us and I was genuinely looking forward to it. Despite the epicentre of the cyclone passing only 30km south of Hong Kong it only made it to Cyclone warning 3, which means winds of 41kph to 62kph. It didn't feel that strong here in Shenzhen. All we got was a bit of a breeze and some rain.

Oh well, I'm sure we'll get another cyclone some time soon.

Taxi roulette

Question: Which poses a greater threat to pedestrians, a loaded or an un-loaded taxi?

The answer is a loaded taxi. If I'm crossing the road (or even near the road) an empty taxi will drive somewhat sensibly, slow down and even crane their neck to see if the foreigner that he's spotted is after a taxi. Invariably they are disappointed. If I'm crossing the road and a taxi with a passenger comes by then the shackles are cast off. He will drive very quickly, on the wrong side of the road, make illegal turns, toot his horn and plough through a row of pedestrians and expect them to get out of the way. After all, he has a fare to collect…

Skype spam

We are regular Skype users for chatting with family and friends. Not long after moving to China we started getting Skype spam. We have periods where we'll get a few Skype spam messages in a day over a few days and then go for weeks without getting any. The standard procedure is just to block the user that the spam has come from, easy enough to do but annoying none the less.

Here's an example:

Skype (skype) ??????
??????Skype??????????????.???Skype????http://skype.sfte.net/ ??????. ?????Skype??????$25,800 RMB?? ?? ???????!????????????????????????????????5188???????????????????Skype????????:089-888-038691 ???????!
skype (skype) ????????

Which when translated becomes:

Skype (skype) [ system news ]
Congratulates you! Your Skype account number is already pulled out by the system for draws a prize winning ticket the user Please land Skype official website http://skype.sfte.net/ to handle receives an award the service. You will obtain by Skype send out pleasantly surprised bonus $25,800 RMB as well as Tristar notebook computer! In order to let by the backstage system stochastically sample luckily plays the family to be able to be more convenient. You draw a prizewinning ticket confirmation code: [ 5,188 ] you in handle in the process like to have any question, asks you to contact with the Skype guest to take the central service hot line: 089-888-038691 we at your service!
Skype (skype) network science and technology limited company
August 7, 2007

Honestly, how gullible do they think we are! 

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