The penned-up Road Rulers come down with a serious case of sexual frustration when cabin fever hits a boiling point this week. Plagued by their lackluster shipboard love lives, the restless kids finally unleash their yearnings, exchanging suggestive banter and playful embraces. Harmless fun, you say? Indeed it is, except for emotionally-stalted Yes, who is apprehensive about taking his frequent flirtation with Alissa to the next level. But sexual tension isn't the only pressure point for our intrepid travelers. A political crisis is raging in Kosovo, and reports from home inform the students of NATO's accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy. The news is serious, but being at sea has created a false sense of security with the gang. As the boat slices its way towards China, the apathetic Roadies' biggest worry is getting Coppertone-worthy tans. However, the group becomes much more unsettled once the S.S. Universe Explorer actually docks in Shanghai. A distinctly anti-American atmosphere is not the welcome that the Road Rulers are used to. Luckily, Koko, their mayor, is refreshingly excited by their arrival. With a friendly smile, Koko loads the kids into a waiting van and whisks them off for their next adventure. Ushered into a beautiful opera house, Koko and his talented counterpart, Madame Lui, explain the goal of the mission: The group must learn and present the intricate Chinese opera, "The Jade Bracelet" with only 24 hours of instruction. Frog got your throat? Don't worry, Chinese opera lends itself to the musically-challenged - but that doesn't mean it's easy. While the kids don't have to be songbirds, they do have to master a number of choreographed dance steps and facial expressions to accurately convey the story. Of course, the Roadies aren't going to let the mounting demands of the mission interfere with their fun. Suddenly inspired by a streak of naughtiness, the kids "borrow" a video camera from the crew and put on an impromptu show of their own. Veronica and Shawn get especially brash, hilariously flashing and mooning the lens. Once they get their giggles under control, the Rulers get back to business. Yes and Pua take turns preparing traditional costumes and elaborate makeup, and the rest of our budding showstoppers get lessons in the complex ancient art form. The effort pays off, and our Roadies' successful performance is met with rousing applause from their appreciative audience. Unfortunately, the happiness is short-lived. A massive protest has spilled onto the streets surrounding the opera house, and the anxious Roadies are feeling understandably uneasy. Noticeably concerned, Yes can't help wondering about Alissa's well-being as she roams the city with other SAS students. With the intensity of the political situation heating up, Koko advises the Rulers to return to the safety of the ship. They willingly do so, and Yes finds himself especially eager to see his girl. Reunited and relieved, formerly relationship-wary Yes drops a bomb of his own and finally confesses his inescapable love for Alissa. from BMP.commoreless
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