As we separated after boarding the ship (the kung fu master and his servant were riding in fourth class, in the bowels of the ship, while we were in a second class cabin reserved for foreigners – there is no first class in China, by the way, what with it being a classless socialist society and all), it occurred to us that this was probably his only photograph of his family and we couldn't possibly keep it. Once the ferry was underway, we tracked him down and tried to give the photo back the three times required by Chinese etiquette, only to be refused each time.
Unsure what to do next, we bought a round of cold sodas for the three of us from the ship's store and moved to the upper deck to watch the river go by, our conversational skills being somewhat limited. We managed to convince him to not give us a necklace he was wearing that Stefanie asked to look at more closely – it had a pendant with an engraving of his school on it. (We had visions of him leaving the ship naked, with all of his belongings piled in our cabin and us looking rather sheepish sitting on top of them.) We also gave him several U.S. dollars (he was willing to trade us for Chinese yuan at a fantastic rate for us, but we insisted – or tried to make this understood anyway – that it was a gift to help him pay for his travels).
When he and his servant got off during the night at a small city along the river, they stood on the dock outside our cabin and yelled until we came out to see what was happening, so they could wave good-bye. All in all, it was one of the most pleasant and memorable of our encounters with the people of China.