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When she finally came back, to find me drowning in puppies and cats, frantically trying to keep the pups in one room behind makeshift barriers, it was a big relief

Thankfully our driver, Mr Wang, a giant of a man – at least as I remember him – swept me and Susan up on his shoulders and bore us both through the crowd, shouting “Foreign little girls! Foreign little girls coming through! Move out of the way!”

Despite a widening income gap, many Chinese white-collar workers are still grasping for a little luxury, always on the look out for things that are modestly priced but offer something a little refined.

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Chinese cuisine holds that there are five principle flavors - sour (suan), sweet (tian), bitter (ku), spicy (la) and salty (xian). So universally held is this belief that the first four of these make up a chengyu or four-character motto signifying the ups and downs of everyday life.

Many families used to bring their animals in for the winter, snuggling up against sheep or pigs in order to make the best use of their body heat

Now when there are a few deliveries at the same time, it sounds like a tuberculosis ward in a 1920s hospital