宜家

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Lingering among the stacks of furniture on the 1st floor of IKEA lurk those offering a special service. Trained mercenaries? Sex workers? Possibly the latter, but even more useful when buying un-assembled Swedish furniture are those undercutting IKEA's delivery system and providing their 1980's van for immediate service. "Deliver goods?" She asked in flawless Chinese. "Sure" I said, in equally impressive English. She looked confused. I translated it to Chinese. I am a Mandarin Master. 4+ years in this country are finally paying off. She creeps behind me as I make my way through the checkout and wheels my boxes outside. A man on the other side of the gate, her husband, greets me with a cheerful smile and carefully guides my boxes over the wall onto a cart and into the back of his van. We have the usual "Chinese person + white foreigner" banter and we arrive at my place. He helps me get the stuff into my apartment, I pay him roughly $20, and he returns to IKEA to repeat the process. It's situations like this, among the smog and daily grind of this city, that makes me say, "I fucking love China".

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City).