Xi Men looked at Xiao You putting in the coins into the ticket vending machine and then presses the buttons on the machine and then the machine dispenses a ticket.
His eyes widened at how Xiao You could purchase the ticket without any assistance.
Xiao You took the ticket out from the machine, and then extends it to Xi Men, “Yours,” she said.
“Oh,” he said, taking the ticket.
“Do not lose the ticket,” she said, putting in coins again into the machine.
“Okay…” he said.
“In case you want to know, this is a one-time-use Metro ticket, which means for single journey. You need it to take the subway,” she said, pressing the button and then the machine dispenses a ticket.
“Oh,” he said, looking at the ticket in his hand.
She took the ticket, and then turned around to head to the turnstile of the Metro station, and Xi Men followed.
“Okay, here is how to use it,” she lifted the ticket up. “This is the magnetic strip of the ticket. You put this magnetic strip facing down at the slot… and you take the ticket when it comes out at the end of the machine. You need to keep this ticket the whole time, or you will be fined on spot if you are asked to produce this ticket but you couldn’t,”
“And you will be doing this all the time with Paris Visite for the whole trip,” Xiao You said.
“Paris Visite? Ah. Didn’t you buy it just now? Why are we not using it now and instead, uses these… one-time tickets?” he asked.
“The Paris Visite Pass is for tomorrow onwards until the 8th. Today we will be using this,” she said, turning and heads to the entrance now.
“Oh, why…?” he asked, as he follows her.
“Paris Visite is actually meant for frequent usage per day. If you are just traveling once or twice with the subway on the day, it is better to buy single ticket,” she said.
“Now, watch and learn,” she said, standing at the machine, putting in her ticket into the slot.
The ticket is being sucked in and then comes out at the end.
And that allows Xiao You to push the turnstile to go to the other side and grabbed the ticket.
“Your turn,” she said, looking at him.
Xi Men puts the ticket into the slot, doing it exactly as what Xiao You does, and when it comes out from the other end, he pushes the turnstile and he passes, not forgetting the ticket.
“That is good,” Xiao You smiled as Xi Men joined her again.
“Wow, that feels good too,”
“Feels good? Why so?”
“I’ve never done that before. It felt like an accomplishment,” he said.
She smiled. “That is nice to hear. Remember to keep your ticket,” turning around and they both walked down the stairs in the Metro station.
“Okay,” he said, stuffing the ticket into his jeans.
“And before I forget, let me remind you,” she said.
“Be careful with pickpockets. Don’t keep your wallet or anything at your back pocket, and always stay focus and take good care of your belongings. They are good with trying to distract you to steal your stuffs. And well, including stuffs in your front pockets. A friend of mine’s wallet was stolen, and the wallet was in the front pocket,” she said. “They are active in Metro, and in some places in Paris,”
Hearing that, he felt uneasy. “Isn’t a private chauffeur better and safer in that sense?”
“Yes, it is,”
His step stops, totally pissed with that answer. “YES? And you are telling me ‘yes’ now? You said NO to private chauffeur and now you are saying YES to having a chauffeur means it is safer?”
She looked at him upon hearing the annoyed tone and she also stopped descending the stairs, “I said YES to ‘safer’ but I didn’t say I want to ride that now,”
“You already know this is a dangerous place and the risks of getting our stuffs stolen yet we are still doing these?!”
She stared at him.
He looked at her sharply and he is angry now.
“They are pretty active at Metro doesn’t mean they will definitely target you. And even if they aim at you, if you are cautious enough with them, they will not come at you. If you know your way to protect yourself and not to expose your items, they will know you are aware of them,” she said.
He glared at her angrily.
She looked back at him. “And I am teaching you to protect yourself, take care of your belongings and learn to look at things around you and the world asides from staying in your comfort office room. Learn that things do not always go your way all the time. What you know does not mean everyone knows. And what other people know doesn’t mean you will know. When all you know are comfort, protection and riches, other people know hardship and toughness,” she said.
She continued the steps, before she turned around and looked at him glaring at her.
“And probably poverty,” she adds.
She resumed her steps again.
And Xi Men now takes the steps down slowly, with both his hand covering his jeans’ pocket.
She turned around to look at him to see if he is following, and he is, but she notices he walks quite slow compare to how he was earlier.
She took a deep breath and then ascends the step, heading to him.
He looked at her standing next to him.
“Xi Men, I am not asking you to take Metro to experience about these pickpocket things that I am mentioning about. If I were, I wouldn’t have told you in the first place and let you be the victim of that. I am telling you so that you can be aware with your surroundings. And I want you to be clear that even though you may have protection all the time and trust completely that these things won’t happen by paying more for expensive rides or guards, at the end of the day, you are the one that has to protect yourself no matter what you do and where you are in the world. Not other people. You can control what you do, but you can’t control what other people do that sometimes even the ones you trust might betray you,”
He looked at her, his gaze softened up.
“And the world is a cruel place. Not everyone has a good and fair life like you. They will resort to any ways to make a living. This does not only apply to Metro in Paris but everywhere else in the world, including a street in Taiwan. Metro Paris is just happened to be one of the hot spots, but that shouldn’t deter you from taking the trains and enjoying the rides,” she slides her hand into his arm and holds it, gently pulling him to continue descending the steps with her.
He took a deep breath as he just let her ‘dragged’ him.
“Trust me. This does not solely apply in Paris. This happened everywhere else in the world,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men sighed.
“Just like sex. You know there is a chance of making the woman pregnant, you still do it anyway,” she suddenly makes an odd comparison.
He turned his head to look at her.
“The only way to guaranteeing not making a woman pregnant is to stop having sex completely. But can you exactly do that?” she asked, looking at him.
He looked at her, and then he smiled, before he bursts into laughter.
“I am pretty sure you can imagine that,” she said. “So you just gotta be careful so that she doesn’t get pregnant, right?”
“Okay, I got what you mean,” he smiled after his laughter dies down.
“Good to know. So does that make you feel better?” she asked.
“Can I say no?” he asked as both of them descend the stairs now to go to the train platform.
“Then I may have to do something to make you feel better,”
“I don’t know. Buy you some ice-creams probably,”
He laughed. “I am not a kid,”
“Paris’ Berthillon ice-cream is famous,”
“Ice cream?” he repeated.
“Yes,” she replied.
“What, really? Ice-cream?” he asked.
She laughed while her hand is still hooked into him. “Yes, if we found I’ll buy you one,”
“With my money,” he said.
She laughed. “I can buy it with mine,”
“I told you I’m paying everything in this trip,” he said.
“I brought my money out,”
He turned to look at her. “Where is mine, then?”
“In the safe box,”
“Didn’t I ask you to keep yours in the box?” he asked, turning his head to look at her.
“It is just cash. I can take here and put back and sort. You know cash doesn’t differ in terms of who the owner is or having the owner’s name written in the notes, right?” she asked as they stood aside at the platform waiting for the train.
“Yes, I know. I mean, I didn’t want you to use yours,” he said, slowly slides Xiao You’s hand from hooking his arm down to his hand and he gripped it.
“Can I be honest with you about something?” she asked.
“Of course. Please do,” he said, looking at her again.
“Actually, I am not comfortable with the cash you gave me,” she said.
“Not comfortable? Why? Is it too little?”
“Well, it is indeed too much but… that is not the reason …”
“When you give it to me…” she said.
He tilts his head.
“It feels like you are paying for an escort,” she said.
His eyes widened and he straightened his head. “No… no. Wait. No. That… sounds so wrong,”
“So… would you like to take them back…?”
“But I am giving it to you for… you know, emergency. It wasn’t for… ahem… it is… for you to use if I am not around,” he said. “Though the chance of me walking away is less, but who knows, maybe you want to buy some stuffs, pay for food… you know…”
“Umm… but the act didn’t feel right,” she said. “It is really odd. It made me feel…”
“My gosh. I am sorry. I am really, really sorry,” he said. “That is not my intention,”
“It made me feels like one,”
“I have never thought it in that way but now that you have mentioned, it… it is just so wrong. Umm… what about… treat it as… hmm, you give it back to me at the end of the trip if you didn’t use it?” he said.
“Like you lend it to me?”
“Yeah,” he said. “To use while I am away. But at the end of this trip, you return the leftover to me,”
“I think that sounds better,” she said.
He exhaled a deep, relieving breath. “That is good,”
“Alright,” she smiled, and then she lowered her head down to realize he is holding her hand. “Hmmm… since when did we start holding hands?”
Xi Men also lowered his head to look at their entangled hands. “I think it’s been a while,”
“Yeah. Don’t matter. You are my girlfriend for a week so this doesn’t violate anything,” he said.
He just smiled.
She turned and saw a small light from the tunnel, which is actually the light on top of the train. “Okay, the train is coming,”
“Be careful with your wallet,” she reminded him.
“WHOA… I can’t believe what I am seeing,”
“Eiffel Tower?” Xi Men asked as both of them stood from the Trocadéro; site of the Palais de Chaillot which is a good place to look at Eiffel Tower. “I thought you just saw it from the balcony of our suite?”
“Well, still. I love this view no matter where I am looking from. Looking at it right before my eyes is amazing. In my life, I have never imagined I can really come here and see Eiffel Tower on my own,”
He turned his head and looked at the Eiffel Tower before him. “Is it really… special?”
“When you see something in pictures for almost all your life and then you get to see it in front of you with your eyes, you will feel overwhelmed,” she said.
He looked at the Eiffel Tower again.
“But I think you wouldn’t understand that awesome feeling. Since you said you’ve been to everywhere and see everything, I guess you’ve seen everything instead of just pictures,” she suddenly mocked.
He turned his head and looked at Xiao You.
“I think that is something you wouldn’t get,” she looked at him.
“I seriously hope you have nothing against me, or a rich person,” he said, glaring at her.
“Well, I don’t. I am just being honest with you,” she said.
“Really?” he deadpanned. “Because this is not the first time you mocked me, lady,”
“You too, monsieur,” she said.
“No, I didn’t,” he defended.
“You did,” she said.
She looked at him. “Do you want the proof?”
He looked at her.
“You’ve seen things so much and then you told me these aren’t anything special when I see this for the first time. So, isn’t that a mocking too?” she asked.
“I don’t remember saying they aren’t special. I just asked if it is really that special,”
“They are about the same. And I am pretty sure you hinted something like that even if you did not utter that,” she said.
He frowned slightly.
“You see, this is the difference between you and me,” she said, “Yes, you are rich. Your fortune is probably increasing by the minute and there is a chance I won’t die many decades later as rich as you are today, and what you have experience is totally different from what I’ve did. Just like I have said, what you know is not what other people know. But I am pretty sure what I know is definitely not what you knew either. And I am telling you, rich people like you enjoy life by riches, we commoners enjoy life by experiences. So in order to expect people to respect you, you need to respect people too, you know?” she said.
He took a deep breath.
Although he doesn’t remember mocking her the way she had said, but he guessed his actions might have depicted that, or she had personally evaluated it in that way.
But after all, she is right about both of them.
They are different. They are very different…
“Alright, I think I am going overboard with that. I think I am the one that doesn’t respect you first. I am sorry,” she said. “I just didn’t like it when you are always saying you’ve seen this so much and that it is no longer special to you when it is the first time I see it and I truly adore it,”
He looked at her, “I am sorry that I have always implied that to you too. I’ll try to see it from your view. I hope you can understand and forgive me if I did it again,”
She smiled, “Okay,” she said. “So, we’re cool?”
“Yes,” he smiled.
“Let’s go to the Eiffel Tower. We need to be there by 3.50pm,” she said.
“Sure,” he lifted his hand up, and she puts her hand onto it.
40 minutes later.
“This is not the highest…” Xi Men frowned as he looked around to the view, and then lifted his head up to look to the top of the tower. “Right?”
“No. This is only Level 1, we have to go a different elevator to go to Level 2,” Xiao You said, as they seem to be in a queue right after exiting the first elevator.
“Level 1? This is Level 1? The elevator went pretty long or high up… and it is only for one level?”
“Comments in the forums said that Ground Level to Level 1 of Eiffel Tower is not the same as what we always know. It takes over 300 steps, I think, to walk up from Ground Floor to Level 1…,”
His eyes widened. “What? Really?”
“Don’t you know? I thought you’ve been here before,”
“Umm… I have been here, but I have no idea about stairs, steps and levels,”
“Oh. Anyway, we are now going to take the other elevator for Level 2, which is, to the top,”
“Alright,” he said. “Let’s go,”
Another 30 minutes later,
“Pwah, I don’t remember taking this long time to go up the Eiffel Tower!” Xi Men said, upon reaching the indoor observation level on top of Eiffel Tower, and then he looked at his wristwatch. “It is 5.15pm already! We took an hour to come up?! Just to come up?!”
“Yes,” she said. “I’ve told you, right, the queue to buy tickets is longer?”
“Yeah! 2 hours you said?”
“Goodness. Imagine we line up there to buy and coming up here… it’ll take 3 hours!” he said. “That means I have to forgo my nap!”
She laughed, “Well, seeing your reaction… I guess… ah, no, I am sure someone else bought the ticket for you the last time you come up here,”
“I was only 7,” he said.
“Yeah. I am sure you are not asking me to queue up and buy when I was 7, right?” he then laughed.
“Oh. You mean… that was the last time you come up here? To the Eiffel Tower?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “One and only time too,”
Giving an unimpressed look, “Already came to Paris at the age of 7,” she exhaled her deep breath. “AHHHHH… so lucky,”
He looked at her, “To be exact, that wasn’t my first time in Paris,”
She looked at him, “Not your first time?”
He shook. “It may be my 4th or 5th time…” he tilted his head. “I am not sure,”
“WHAT? Already 4th or 5th time when you were 7?!” she asked.
“Yeah,” he said.
“How young were you during your first time to Paris?” she asked.
“Hmmm. Few months old,” he said.
“That is what I was told,” he said. “Roughly, 8 months; and then, made a few more trips for the next few years. Then I come up to Eiffel Tower when I was 7… which is what I can remember. And then, never come up to Eiffel Tower anymore,”
“So… you are saying… you only come up to Eiffel Tower once?”
“Yeah. Only once. I always remembered that I did come up to the Eiffel Tower so whenever I come to visit Paris, there is no desire to come up at all… but now that I came up… I realized I don’t remember the whole experience,”
She chuckled. “You are only 7 back then! Of course you don’t remember anymore. It’s been 20… or 25 years?”
“24 years. I am 31 this year,” he said.
“But I think I will remember this for a long time now. I spent one hour just to come up to Eiffel Tower!” he said.
She laughed again.
“I remember there is an outdoor observation here,” he said.
“Oh? Where?” she looked around.
He looked around too, and after catching a familiar sign. “I think it is over there,” he pointed to a direction further in front.
Turning her head to look at the direction where he had pointed, “Oh. Let’s go now. I want to catch the sunset from Eiffel Tower,” she grabbed his hand.
“Sunset?” he asked as he walked with her.
“Yes, sunset is at 5.30pm,” she said.
“Hmmm… is that why you asked me to buy a 4pm timeslot to go up to Eiffel Tower?” he asked. “To catch the sunset?”
She looked at him and smiled. “Yes,”
He catches her pretty smile. “So that explains why you pick such an odd hour to come up to Eiffel Tower,”
“Yes. Because from all the comments and reviews from the Internet, I already know it will take an hour to go up to Eiffel Tower,” she said. “So I need to factor those in before getting a timeslot to catch sunset,”
“I am impressed,” he smiled.
“Thank you,” she smiled.