Thursday, May 10, 2007

Enemies of the State and Tea House Treachery

Hey friends,

I just wanted to post two of my travelling stories here which will hopefully serve as a warning for some of you planning a trip to the PRC.

First off, on Sunday I was returning to mainland China after a few spectacular nights in Hong Kong and Macau. While those two cities were handed back to China in 1997 and 1999 respectively, they still retain a high amount of autonomy from the central government. So much so that you need to cross official borders and exchange currency when you go from one to the other or to the main land. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Anyway, as I rode the ferry from Macau to Shenzhen on the mainland, Steve and I got talking to this great guy from Germany, Joerg. Anyway, we shared some travelling stories and talked about some of the places that we planned on checking out while we were here. As we arrived in the mainland and began to walk through customs Joerg was stopped and had his bag searched.

For half a second, I wondered what this guy was trying to bring into the mainland, but it turns out they weren't looking for drugs or weapons, oh no, they were looking for books. After looking through his bag they pulled out his copy of Lonely Planet: China, an essential guide for any traveller. They told him that it was forbidden material and took it away from him. How weird is that?

So a word of warning for anyone coming into China, don't bring in the latest edition of Lonely Planet (the one with the Terracotta Warrior on it) it may get taken away. Funny because I was very tempted to through out my Let's Go guide and buy a Lonely Planet because they really are infinitely better.

Next up, was a scam that two girls tried to pull on us in Shanghai that we are really lucky that we didn't fall to. As we got off the metro in down town Shanghai two girls approached us and struck up a conversation. Now this is not a strange thing what so ever in this country, many, many Chinese approach foreigners to practice their English so this was not unusual. These girls told us that they were students travelling from out of town and were in Shanghai on their holidays. They asked us where we had gone and told us some of their favourite sites. They then told us that they were in Shanghai since it was the Tea Festival and asked if we wanted to go with them to a traditional Chinese Tea House. Again, not that out of the ordinary around here.

Thankfully though, our hostess with the mostest Carrie warned us about this in advance. She said that two of her friends had a similar situation happen to them before and the bill at the Tea House ended up being several hundred Yuan (100 Yuan is about $16 Cdn), because they are in with the Tea House.

So if you ever find yourself approached by two girls who claim to be students in Shanghai, think before they take you out for some tea. It really is a shame because since then I have started to second guess all of the kind Chinese strangers. I really shouldn't though, two tricky girls in a country of 1.3 Billion People ain't so bad now is it?

Until next time,

G

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Similar experiences are apparently common in Athens: friendly greeks from out of town will invite you to go out for drinks with them, and you'll be left with an enormous bar bill... or you'll be taken to a VIP type room, and they don't tell you that drinks are outrageously expensive like that. Information imparted to us from, ahem, the Lonely Planet: Greece.