It has now become a rule that something which isn’t ordinary will happen before or during my every trip. And these events have been shaping my experiences and may I say, making the trip memorable... quite simply they have made my trip into a story worth telling !
So after the earthquake in Bali ( more about that in my blog about my trip to Indonesia) I was conned by a con artist in shanghai !
The shanghai trip happened as a result of a contest that my company had conducted. We were a huge group and the itinerary largely included the popular spots. But I had a list of my own and I was determined to tick the items off that list.
One such place was the Yuyuan bazar, a beautiful market in Chinese architecture, selling souvenirs, silk scarfs, pearls, clothing and other cute chinese stuff with a number of street food stalls.
The Yuyuan bazar
I was strolling along the bazar , turning in directions that my heart told me to. And suddenly at a corner, a Chinese woman requested me to click her photo. As if it was not strange that a chinese was not only speaking English, but complete sentences of it ( as opposed to the majority not knowing even a word of it) she struck a conversation and told me she was also traveling alone. Everything sounded fine, then she asked me if I would join her for a Japanese tea ceremony. I agreed, even though my gut told me run.
She took me to a small shop where a chinese lady started talking in Mandarin or Cantonese (because I can’t tell the difference)and the English speaking Chinese lady ( let’s call her alice - I don’t remember her name even though she told me) was doing the translation. I realised it was going to take time and wanted to leave but Alice insisted that I stayed , that the ceremony will be over in 20 mins. My gut spoke louder and angrier this time. It screamed, “ flee! “ but who is smarter? Me or my gut ? My gut of course but I asked it to shut up and justified staying back using the “ this tea ceremony is a new experience “ excuse.
And so throughout the ceremony which largely involved the chinese lady giving us tea samples to drink, I kept my guard up and drank the tea only when Alice finished hers ( just to avoid the possibility of my tea being spiked) . At the end of the boring ceremony, I was told that I was now a customer and could take one of the six varieties of tea home for free. I didn’t understand, but knew there was a catch. Soon I was presented with a bill charging me with 48 Yuan for each type of tea I tasted. To cut the story short, I ended up paying 50 yuan instead of 348 yuan, kept the flower and fruit tea for myself ( which I was on the verge of losing because I agreed to pay only 50 yuan ???? )
Things could have possibly gone horribly wrong , people had advised me against going out alone because the Chinese don’t speak or understand English. getting a taxi is difficult and it’s a new country , blah ! Blah ! But the point is things could go wrong even when you aren’t taking a chance .
I was supposed to join my office group at a place called AP market. Getting a cab in China is a big big challenge. The cabbies never ever ever take you in. Reaching the hotel is one thing , but reaching a lesser known place is another. Add to it that the market has some 11 gates and getting hold of the group in time could be difficult. So anyways, I decided I will figure a way out. I had gotten the hotel guys to write down the name of ap market in Chinese for me in advance. However, no taxi agreed to come and I tried for about 20mins. Then I noticed a lot of taxis going into a 5 star and came up with an idea and I highly recommend travellers to China adopt it. I went inside, asked the concierge to get me a taxi and voila ! I had a taxi in 3 mins plus the hotel guys explained to the cabbie how to get to the location !
I got to ap market ahead of time, met the group without any difficulty at all and was left with a good story to tell ????