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Yesterday, we started by ditching the guy in our group who was afraid to get taken for a ride by the millions of shopkeepers in Bejing. When you’re travelling, or seeing new things, the only thing worse than having too many people in your party is being paired with someone who isn’t willing to throw a couple Yuan down for a good time. This guy had to go.

You know this guy. He’s everyone’s friend, but he’s just not too friendly. You know he’s a nice enough person, but there’s something about him that you can’t put your finger on, but you know that it’s there, and it makes you slightly uncomfortable. It is as if he’s always acting, and he never quite draws the lead role. He’s the guy that always asks what’s going on, but he has to search for that person in the group who, out of kindness, will not let him fall out of the loop. The guy that’s always got an anectdote to share with you, which is not funny and even more seldom apropos. You know who I am talking about, and if you can’t pick him out from the group you’re in at the current time, either you’ve done a good job excommunicating this fellow, or you’re him.

Enter Dave. Dave is not this guy. He was on all of my flights over here, but he didn’t meet up with me until we got through Canadian customs, for he was using me as a model of what to and what not to do up until this point. He grabbed me as I was walking back toward Burger king, where we had a smoke and chewed the fat about why we were going on this ridiculous excursion. He’s probably the person I have met so far who has the most similar reasons for coming over: doesn’t need a job currently, has some time to kill, and wants to do something a little out of the ordinary. Dave and I had quite a day yesterday.

After duping Mike from London into thinking we were going to do something fun, and instead, being willingly ripped off by the schysters at the planetarium, we put the tuckered little guy to bed and left for the Bejing Botanical Gardens. Our second foray into the heart of Bejing lead us to beleive that the gardens were through a gate manned by the fine folks of the People’s Liberation Army. Passing through the gate, Dave and I encountered a pick-up soccer match, and the natives (cloaked in chef and waiter restaurant garb) were happy to invite us to play. We only kicked it around for about a half-hour before the reflux of baby chickens and squid that we bought at an outdoor market stopped us in our tracks. We submitted our resignations and went on, Wahaha water in one hand, DuMaurier cigarette in the other.

We couldn’t get into the gardens without paying, so we turned down a separate street back toward the hotel, and upon exploring further, found a roller rink/disco hybrid. The last time I went roller skating must have been when I was about six years old, and as my memories are fond, Dave and I ventured in before realizing we didn’t remember a thing about skating. This is the first time in China where I had not been the tallest person in the place. After I put my skates on, it was business as usual. When we got onto the floor, the music changed from Chinese to American hip-hop, and when we left, the next song was Chinese. The DJs were on point:

DJ #1: ROOK DJ #2! American!

DJ #2: DJ #1! Pump some DRE!

DJ #1: I play hot shit!

Even though we hit the floor many times, the throngs of Chinese teens were kind enough to help the only Americans in the place to their feet every time. We didn’t lose anything by skipping the gardens after all.

As we came back, the guy (you know this guy) was gone. It turns out that he took an unsuspecting group of students to the university that all of us went to on Friday night, which by the way, has no admission charge and is frankly not one of the must see stops in Bejing. It’s too bad we missed out.

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