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Lately, they follow us out onto the streets, so that gets us even more strange looks. People stare at a foreigner, two dogs and three cats in a strange entourage going along the street.

I take my cues from the people around me and do my best to ignore the risks and hope that they figure out how to grow organs in tanks before mine conk out.

Emerging from the windswept moors of Yorkshire into the hubbub of Beijing’s Dongcheng, a 40-square-kilometer city district home to half as many people as my entire, 8,500-square-kilometer home county, meant culture shock was inevitable. As with legions of foreign immigrants before me, therefore, I turned to food for comfort.

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In late September, a video of a white SUV and a black car colliding on a highway in Shandong Province went viral. Netizens were shocked by the two drivers’ seemingly suicidal collision, saying that lunu zheng, a Chinese term referring to road rage, has become one of the major causes of road deaths. Fortunately in this case, both survived.

It wouldn’t have been a true China marriage unless a hiccup gave the otherwise smooth procedure an interesting wrinkle.

After taking a quick look, I realized the apartment did indeed have windows that were facing the lift and didn’t lock.