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I was ultimately directed to a desk manned by another harried member of the security services, who was attempting to deal with two elderly people who had apparently perplexed one of the world’s strictest disease control systems by not owning smartphones

My family, fully addicted coffee drinkers, were coming to visit from Canada, so I asked Qingyun to help me buy the equipment I needed. Who knew a premim coffee grinder could cost hundreds of dollars? Same for a long-necked kettle imported from Japan. This was shaping up to be an expensive hobby

Male and female family members separate to partake in the naked activities of the establishment before reconvening in the co-ed public areas. All guests usually don the establishment’s complimentary pajamas for a few hours of tea, food, foot massages, spa treatments, private movie screenings, or simple family hangout time on padded foam mats with thin blankets

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Some people referred to Beijing as a magical place like the Parisian Left Bank in the 1920s. I think the only common ground is there were lots of young people far from home drinking more than they should and having lots of fun in ways they will only obliquely refer to after they start a family

Personally, I find watching an eclipse an extremely uplifting experience. And let’s face it, 2020 could not get much worse (we hope). Disease, floods, murder hornets - everything being made out of cake on the internet. The natural world apparently has it in for us, although I don’t blame it. The cake thing is unnatural though

Being a vegetarian in China has been a special challenge, because people here seek a middle way and avoid extremes. Therefore, if I ordered fried green beans and said I didn’t want any meat, it would more often than not come out full of little bits of pork. I would point to them, and my server would shrug and respond, “It’s only a little bit.”