In 1988 I was in a train station in China, waiting to depart. I was accompanied by a Taiwanese man who had traveled with me from the U.S., and two mainlanders who were from one of the trading companies we worked with.

While walking through the station, a man approached me… with a knife. He looked me in the eye, and started waving the knife in my face and making weird noises. One of his wrists were bandaged and was stained with what looked like blood.

I was stunned, and froze. “What do I do?” I asked my friends. They stared at the guy with the knife and were just as surprised; one said “I don’t know.” Then my Taiwanese friend (who name was Louie) stepped between me and the guy with the knife in an act of bravery. “Louie, get out of the way,” I said. “Before he turns you into a pin cushion.”

The next seconds felt like hours… to our surprise, the guy with the knife just walked away. A few moments later, we saw a policeman walk by, holding the knife. He had confiscated it from our “friend”… I couldn’t help why they didn’t take the guy in as well.

You just never know what you’ll encounter in the Middle Kingdom.