CHINA...Scams, Scams & more Scams...the Unsuspecting Tourist


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July 15th 2012
Published: July 15th 2012
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CHINA...Scams, Scams & more Scams...the Unsuspecting Tourist.

When I go to China...I take my wits with me...or so I think...but as I believe friendliness opens doors...I can be an unsuspecting tourist...a target for scammers...or so they think!

Brushes with the Tea Scam, Art Scam, Rolex Scam, Restaurant Scam, Taxi Scam, DVD Scam, Fossil Scam...come to mind.



The Fossil Scam:

I am in the Stone Forest at Shilin...about 200 kms from Kunming in Yunnan Provence...walking among the rocks.

Suddenly a man in dirty clothes and unruly hair...smiles...indicating I should look at a treasure wrapped in cloth.

My jaw dropped in wonder...disbelief...a fossil on a layer of slate...two miniature dinosaur lizards intertwined...never seen anything like it...he's offerring it to me...better be quick before someone else comes along and beats me to it!

Couldn't afford his price...understandable he won't negotiate...this piece is one in a million!

Fortunately he had another...more affordable...single dinosaur lizard...my opening picture.

How lucky am I??? ...The second best fossil money can buy!!!


The Tea Scam:

Walking up Wangfujing Dajie in Beijing with my son Simon then 21.

Two girls approach us...about 19 or 20 I'd say.

"Hello...We are Economics students. May we have a chat and practice our English?" the more assertive one asks.

"Where are you from?...Do you like Bejing?...No invitation to an Art Exhibition this time...the prettier one making a bee-line for Simon...the more assertive one...chatting to me...general small talk...Simon enjoying the attention.

"We are having such a nice time talking to you...would you like to continue our chat over a cup of tea? I know a nice teahouse nearby...we could go there now."

Simon unsure...me encouraging..."OK let's go."

We enter a building...walk through shops...to a lift...couldn't see what floor she pressed...her hand in the way...talking to us the whole time...me no idea where we are...out of the lift...through more shops...then to a fancy engraved door...into an exquisite tea house...a pretty girl in a long red silk gown leading us to another engraved door...wow...a private room...this is nice.

The pretty one next to Simon...the more assertive one next to me.

"Let's order some tea...here is the menu."

The girls talking...me trying to look at the menu...never seen a "tea menu" before...so I was interested in having a look.

About to ask for suggestions...

Then I noticed the prices...saw "1,500 RMB"...that's about AUD$250...no idea what it is for...then see something was "800 RMB"...no idea what it is for...but I know that's more than AUD$130.

"How much for just a cup of tea?...these ones seem a bit expensive"...I enquired.

"I don't like your attitude"...the assertive one snapped.


It was like a bolt of lightning...her cold reply caught me off guard...looked at her.

"We have come to have a cup of tea and a chat..let's order"...her tone back to normal.

I looked at Simon...and he at me.

"This feels suss" I said standing..."Let's go"...the girl in the red silk gown covering the door blocking our exit.

I felt Deja Vu...an incident with Lily & Caroline in a prevous trip...I may tell later in this blog...I know what to do when someone is blocking a door.

Reached for the handle...could hear the girls trying to stop us leaving...held the handle...sudden pull hard...the girl in red thrown off balance and flying into the other girls.

We left briskly...then ran...girls yelling...we fearful a heavy or two would come after us.

Totally disoriented...we had no idea how to get out of the building!

Went through an electrical store...dead end...down some stairs...somehow ended up in a basement...took us about 10 minutes to get out of the building...adrenalin in both of us pumping.

Told the Concierges at our hotel...Jack, Tony and Storm.

Told us it was the latest scam...how unsuspecting tourists get arrested and jailed until they pay...we feeling pretty pleased we had got out of there without ordering...pretty chuffed actually!



The Rolex Scam

Everyone knows...in China you can pick up some pretty cheap merchandise...especially if you bargain hard.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to score a fancy Rolex watch in Beijing...for about 25 bucks Australian...for that price you don't expect a guarantee...but that's OK...with a Rolex you don't need one...it's reputation precedes it.

Got another one in Shanghai...bright gold...diamond encrusted...even cheaper...can't wait to get back to OZ...and wear it next time I see that client...who wears those super expensive Swiss watches.

Hope he asks me how much I paid for it...he'll spew with envy!

The first Rolex...lots of dials...only problem...the metal band needs adjusting...needs removal of a few links...think I'll take it to a watchmaker.

Found a watchmaker in Wangfujing...like going to a doctor's surgery...classy place...their watches pretty swish...and pricey...no Rolexes though...yep this place should be able to help me.

One look at the watch...the junior refers me to a senior watchmaker.

"I need the band adjusted please...and while I'm at it...how about a spare battery?"

He adjusts the band...nice fit..."Xiexie"..."Bukechi"...opens the back...examining it...serious chap...looks at me...magnifying monocle in one eye...didn't say anything...just looks at me.

It had very little inside its casing...like a small cardboard ring radius about 1 cm...with mechanism within...balance of casing empty.

Wow...its doesn't have a battery...must be automatic...silly me!

Bought more on a later trip...a guy jumped in front of me with a suitcase at Tiantan...heaps of Rolexes...nice modern one for Simon...and ladies models for Denise & Anna-Louise...won't they be pleased!

Beats that watch with Mao waving his hand...only worked for an hour...

But it wasn't a Rolex...was it.!!!



The DVD scam

Bought 4 copies of a Lord of the Rings DVD from a guy outside a Restaurant in Beijing...worked OK...if you don't mind the back of someone's head in the foreground...gets a bit dodgy when the head moves...even worse when he stands up!

Couldn't play it on the DVD player I bought in Beijing as all the instructions and buttons in Mandarin and I can't get it to work...worked fine in the shop though...tested in front of me...shop assistant very helpful.



The Restaurant Scam

I've told you how I met Lily & Caroline early on my first trip...invited me to an Art Exhibition...bought two paintings on silk...and gave them money for headpieces for my daughter...went back 3 days later...and the building was gone...see my blog CHINA: Beijing...in blizzards to find a fur hat...How it all began.

About two weeks later...went to my favourite restaurant in Wangfujing for lunch...their fried beans to die for.

Walking...approached by 2 girls "Would you like to come to an Art Exhibition?"

Ping brain engaged..."Do you know Lily? How about Wang Zhi Heng?"..."You do".

Follow them...see someone I recognised...isn't that the "Professor"...where I bought those paintings?

The "Professor" rang Lily...I spoke to her...told me she'll meet me at my hotel at 5pm...and we'll go out for dinner...OK but I'm paying!

Call from Reception..."Your guests have arrived"...Lily looking extra exotic...lovely long coat...had 3 headpieces for Anna-Louise...Caroline with her...nice girl.

Took me to a Traditional Northern Chinese Restaurant...best in Beijing they said...quite a walk to get there...sort of strange me being a middle-aged Westerner in a
THE ART PROFESSORTHE ART PROFESSORTHE ART PROFESSOR

Rang Lily...she arranged to meet me at my hotel...and then to dinner with Lily & Caroline
fur hat...with an exotic Chinese girl on each side...they didn't seem to mind though!

Private room...impressed they could arrange that...seeking their suggestions...encouraging these poor students to order what they like...you like shrimp...OK...which one is that on the menu?...sorry I can't read Mandarin...mmm...doesn't have a price next to it...I'll ask the waitress.

In my other life...I am not regarded as stupid...so when ordering I noted the price for each dish...and got the price for the shrimp...so I knew I had enough RMB to pay for it all.

Had a wonderful meal...concerned to not appear a sleaze...showed them photos of my family...Lily simply exotic...Caroline the conversationist...very intelligent enquiring mind...actually seemed interested in what I had to say.

The girls now want to go dancing...you're kidding...me now known as "the Dancing One"...and you are two young girls...my "Chinese daughters" I call them...tempting...but not appropriate...we'll get the bill and take it from there.

Paid the bill too quickly...all in Mandarin...didn't check it...until the waitress had disappeared...ping...brain engaged...how come it was so expensive?

Asked the girls which was the one that was heaps more expensive than the other dishes..."the shrimp"...but she had said it was only...where's the waitress?

The waitress wouldn't come back...really embarrassed for the girls...they take me to a nice restaurant...and the restaurant rips me off.

The girls offer to reimburse me...reaching for their purses..No Way!

So I get up...leave the girls in the private room...and look for the waitress...avoids me...so I see the Manager...the woman in charge...next to the till...request a part refund...that's the price I was told...that's the price I was charged!!!

I am not proud of what happened next...travel is a learning curve...I will never do this again...I hope.

I got in a screaming match with the Manager...in front of the guests in that swanky restaurant...she objecting bitterly to any suggestion I had been over-charged...me holding my hand out...she bargaining the refund...me holding my ground...reach a compromise...still significant...she holding out the notes...demanding the bill in exchange...then trying to pull the notes out of my fingers when she has hold of the bill...oh dear...time to get out of here.

Leading the girls to the door...not sure who was the most embarrassed...and the waitress is back...blocking the door...screaming at me to give the money back...yep...she wanted me to return the refund...or we weren't getting out of there.!!!

Reached for the handle...gold diagonal...big double door...held it for a moment...waitress hard up against the door...arms spread...and pull the handle...sharp and hard...yikes...she flew past us...as if shot out of a rocket...me calmly escorting the girls out with a flourish of my arm...pretending all in a days work...thinking...quick...lets get out of here!!!

Lily looked really pissed off as we walked back to my hotel...wondered later if she was involved in some way.

But they still wanted to go dancing...and did I go?

Not really a question is it?

No way...enough excitement for one night...tempting...but I deem not appropriate...pity that...still not appropriate.

Saw Caroline again...a couple of weeks later...after our return from Xian...walking down Wangfujing on her way back from the Library...took me to Starbucks...she secretly paid...then contacted me when I was back in OZ...she then in Shenzhen (near Hong Kong)...among the masses seeking to make their fortunes.

Happy memories...hope life is good to Caroline...and to Lily.

Relax & Enjoy,

Dancing Dave



P.S. For a really good yarn...the Great Wall Scam...from a new blogger...RSGabroad The Great Wall and how we got taken hostage in Beijing...


Additional photos below
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WELCOME TO BEIJINGWELCOME TO BEIJING
WELCOME TO BEIJING

Always someone eager for a chat
LILY & CAROLINELILY & CAROLINE
LILY & CAROLINE

My Chinese daughters
GATE OFF WANGFUJINGGATE OFF WANGFUJING
GATE OFF WANGFUJING

Enter for street food & markets
PEASANTS' LUNCHPEASANTS' LUNCH
PEASANTS' LUNCH

Served through the windows


15th July 2012

Good read
Thanks for the insite on Scams. Looks like an amazing trip and I plan on using your travel insight to help when I put together packages for my clients. Thank you. Shaunette www.castawaycruiseandtravel.com
15th July 2012

thanks for sharing
china ohhh china......................Hmmmm! xfil.blogspot.com
16th July 2012

wonderful job..
Nice post. It’s worth sharing... I prefer quality and excellence. So I very frequently visit this blog to read some quality content by the authors and have my accommodation in Corporatestays
16th July 2012

oh scam! they're everywhere...glad you managed to get away from it all just fine. safe travels. x
17th July 2012

THANKS TinNiE
Thanks for commenting. A brush with a scam & surviving OK usually makes for a funny or memorable experience...I was lucky on these occasions...keep safe...and I enjoy your blogs!
17th July 2012

Tricking foreigners
There is a saying in Chinese "You can always trick a foreigner." I've fallen prey to theses tricks, and I bet just about every other laowei or gweilo has too.
18th July 2012

Kuan-Yin
Thanks for the info of the Chinese saying "You can always trick a foreigner"...guess that's what they say when they see me...triples the fun!!!
18th July 2012

The scam master??
Great stories, Can't wait to get to China and get scammed. I bet that fossil takes pride of place on your mantle at home. Keep up the great work Dave..love your blog.
18th July 2012

THANKS SHELLEY & SCOTT
Glad to see I have given you incentive to visit China...I have other stories I could have shared but I didn't want to make the blog too long. The fossil is framed...yes pride of place...had a paleontologist see it but only for a second...managed to draw her away so she wouldn't look too closely...wish I had been able to afford the fossil of the two intertwined dinosaur lizards...what a hoot if I had that one to show!!!
18th July 2012

As painful as some of these scams are to read (especially those involving blocked doors, geez), I was laughing out loud at some of the run-ins you've experienced. And, let's be honest, "the second best fossil money can buy" is still quite beautiful even if it was a scam.
19th July 2012

AUSPICIOUS ONE
Delighted you have read this blog. Having met me...you can probably picture me getting into these scrapes...and then getting out! The funniest image was the senior watchmaker at his desk with monocle in one eye...head cocked up...just looking at me...probably thinking I was the only person who has brought a fake Rolex into his shop for adjustment...and a spare battery! I could see the next to nothing in the casing...and had difficulty not cracking up! I certainly did when I got out of the shop. Hope the two Ones are well & give my regards to Number One.
1st August 2012

Who ya gonna call?
A blog reading catchup over lunch had me nearly choking on my sushi laughing. The Dancing One running around back alleys and fending off scammers..... Great read :-)
1st August 2012

THANKS JO
Yep...Who ya gonna call?
1st August 2012

From the sublime to the ridiculous!
Your last China blog was about heavenly friends and places, and now we see the flip side--all part of the human condition, I guess. But I always remember (sometimes even in the midst of a mess) that "bad" experiences make great stories. And after all, isn't it better to be scammed occasionally than not trust at all? Happy travels!
1st August 2012

HI TARA
Sublime to the ridiculous...maybe next time I'll be arrested...watch this space. Looking forward to your next blog...are you still in Chile?
1st August 2012

Argentina again
Hope you don't get arrested, but I hope you have amazing adventures. I'm back in Argentina where I have a cheap hostel. I keep hoping I'll finally write a blog--wish me luck!
12th August 2012

Dave, Dave, Dave.....
...didn't your dear ol' mumsie ever tell you about going off with strange girls? ..... Yes, well mine did too, but I would have probably done the same thing as you, now that the middle age rot has well and truly started to set in ;) The Chinese send a lot of their crap our way, what with plastic candy, plastic fish, synthetic eggs and fruit and veg soaked in poisonous chemicals.... I'll stick to pizza and hamburgers thanks :)
13th August 2012

WHAT'S THAT NICK?
Going off with strange girls? Not me...I'd met them...just before!

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