The City and the Village Part I – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“Oh wow!” cried S as the door swung open to our bedroom. The first thing we saw was the king-size bed; a vessel of a thing set between a pair of elegant side tables. Dropping onto the mattress with a wide smile, I sank into the row of pillows and cushions, bouncing slightly on its soft springiness. There was a basket on one of the tables overflowing with shampoo, creams and gels, while someone had even been kind enough to include a packet of condoms. Now this, it seemed, was a hotel with great sexpectations! Directly opposite the bed sat a flat screen TV perched atop a wide chest of dark wood, while the marble bathroom boasted a sizeable shower, two fluffy towels hanging invitingly from a pair of sparkling hooks. “Not bad…” said S, fishing a hairdryer out of a drawer, “how much was this again?”

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