Thursday, November 28, 2013

Awesome Asia Adventure Day #7 - Doing the Hustle

The Happy Traveler Gets Duped
Our first night in Beijing. The flag dropping ceremony in front of the Forbidden City had just ended and the festive crowd was taking pictures and heading off to the restaurants and tea houses next to Tiananmen Square.  A Chinese woman was practicing her English with Dan.  She asked if we’d like to visit one of the nearby tea houses to continue the conversation.  The short stroll to the team house was non-stop conversation with her and her two friends.  We found a table the next 30 minutes was nonstop tea (and eventually some wine) and conversation about life in China and the US, families, must-see sights in Beijing, types of tea, American cars, schools, etc.  We picked up the bill for 240 yuan (about $38) before they showed us back to the metro and gave us directions back to Zangzizhonglu (first night, we were still getting our bearings).

It was a memorable half hour, made more so when we got back to the hostel and were reading a poster in the hallway. It was one of a series of posters to educate travelers on local sights and hustles and yes, one of them was the “tea house” scam where you are invited to a local tea house and end up paying a ridiculously inflated price for the experience.

We looked at the picture that Dan snapped outside the tea house and confirmed it. They weren’t eager to have the picture taken in the first place (kept saying “not here, better pictures at the Square”) and the ring leader had discretely obscured her face the moment the shot was taken.

We chuckled and agreed that while we didn’t appreciate being hustled, the experience was still well worth the $38 so I guess everyone won on that one.


P.S. Even weirder (and this just occurred to me as I wrote this blog post), the next day as Dan and I were walking through town I started whistling that old disco standard "The Hustle" by Van McCoy. It's a catchy tune and soon I had Dan on board with it. It seemed like one of those random moments at the time but looking back at it now, maybe not so much!

"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." 
     -- David St. Hubbins (This is Spinal Tap)

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