That time when we were held at axe-point(!)

Seeing how our dearly beloved Marco Sichirollo is soon to leave this nest of warmth, excitement and discovery (China), Tom and I decided that we needed to have one big blast before we moved out of the apartment in Wudaokou. Truth be told, we also had to honor a long standing agreement that Tom, Marco and I should pose with the go-go- dancers at gay-club Destination (unknow-own-own-own) in Sanlitun for a photo. As such, we called in the Special Forces (read Shannon Dunn) and let the ambrosia flow. As we had a lot to celebrate and commemorate, there seemed to be no end to the champagne, beer, wine, baijiu, tea-shots(!) or the Chinese obscure liquor that people had left behind after a party months ago. The effect came predictably fast and before we knew it, there was a balloon-fight bonanza going on at Chengfu Lu. All good. Concluded that we should get a taxi pronto. Did so after apparently having shouted some less-than-classy remarks in the streets of Wudaokou. Arrived outside Destination. There was a lady selling helium balloons outside. Shannon thought that this was hilarious and pretty much bought her out of stock. For a good half hour, we stood outside the club saying things in various languages with Mickey- mouse voices and laughing our asses off. I remember feeling fine from the alcohol, but really gutted from the helium, though. Who knew that it would be so disgusting? Entered Destination. Our goal was clear: we went straight for the pole and concluded the mission. We danced for a while, but pretty soon total confusion reigned and everyone spread out into different directions (for a reason which no-longer seems clear). Inside the club, it was pretty much all a haze and there seemed to be no concept of time or the outside world, but it was all a hoot. After a while I found Tom in the bar chatting with the same dude I had seen him talk to 20 min (45 min? 1 h?) before. We decided to leave.

As usual when you exit a club in China, there were quite a few people outside the club saying ‘taxi?’ ‘taxi?’. Despite being much more clear-headed then than when I had entered the club, Tom and I stupidly agreed to one after having solidified the price of 60 Yuan to take us back to Wu. Pretty soon after we sat ourselves in the car, the driver told us to pay half now and half when we get there. Tom stuck out 30 yuan, only to hear the driver say ‘no, 60’. We immediately saw where this was going (as people try to fool you pretty much every day of the week as a foreigner in China) and started to protest loudly. The driver wouldn’t have it and still demanded 60 Yuan up front. The argument got more and more heated and Tom demanded his 30 Yuan back. The driver refused. Tom got pissed off and slapped the driver (not too hard) in the back. The driver started to get aggressive. I took out my phone and demonstratively dialed 120 (Chinese emergency) so the driver would see. That’s when I saw Driver digging for something in his bag that he kept in the front seat. A few seconds afterwards, his hand comes out of the bag holding a small double- headed axe. I think I said ‘oh, shit’ and suddenly everything became very clear: I had to open the door and get the hell out of that taxi as soon as I possibly could. The next thing I knew I was standing hyper-ventilating with Tom on the side-walk and assessing what just happened. We vowed never to take a black taxi again, and after all the seriousness had been dealt with, we realized that we had just entered the glorious league of this enchanting lady:

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