At first, he wanted to take me to the Great Wall, to Lhasa, to see the terracota warriors & all that, but I convinced him that I really don't care about seeing the sights. Having a friend who lives there and speaks the language is far more compelling to me than any itinerary; I just want to hang out while he does whatever he would have been doing anyway.
He's been making some inroads as a folksinger. He recently rented an apartment in a building attached to a theater. In the old days—say, 20 years ago—it would have been unthinkable for a foreigner to weasel his way into what was once a state-run arts housing complex. But now, what was once a tightly controlled arrangement is a much more fluid situation. This type of social transformation is far more interesting to me than any archeological site, especially as it directly affects a friend of mine.
I'll be buying my tickets in January.