Finding a date in Beijing is not especially difficult.If you know where to go, you can have your pick of either wayfaring expats, happy-go-lucky students or young, eager Chinese all on the lookout for potential mates.
Just trying to talk to a stranger, let alone finding love and attraction, within the confines of such a subway is like trying to pet a puppy in a war zone.
Yet over beers with a friend – the catalyst of so many a wager – I was challenged to score a date while riding the subway within a week.
The metro is very cheap, just two yuan per trip (about 19p) no matter where you're going. Beijing, in terms of its metropolitan area, is actually similar in physical size to London – but in the same area there are three million more people than in London.
On the Beijing subway, it sometimes feels like the extra million are all on the train with you.
Everyone played with their phones; playing a game, reading a book, watching a TV show or a movie. Other things that were notable about riding the sub: the cars are bigger than London's, but feel smaller as they take more people.
Otherwise they would listen to music – and people blocking themselves away from their immediate surroundings was one of the biggest obstacles during my challenge. Buskers, beggars and cripples sometimes roam the trains.
They walk around wide-eyed and sometimes lost in the subway stations.
They, more than anything else, remind you of the chasm between cosmopolitan residents and rural migrants and the fact that China was until very recently a nation of farmers and peasants.
The journey between my home and work takes around 40 minutes.