Archive | Touring China

Shanghai Scam: Like Father, Like Son

I stumbled upon a Reddit post today where expats in China are sharing their experiences of being swindled in China. It’s funny how the same scams are ever-present throughout the decades. Here was what I posted:

The first year that I was in China (in 2005, on the Coors Tour organized by Sascha) I was walking down Nanjing Lu in Shanghai when an English speaking girl approached me. She said she wanted to practice English, but I kept walking and answering her questions after saying that I wasn’t buying anything.

She offered to take me to a teahouse nearby and I said okay, so we go to the fifth floor of some random building and it’s an empty restaurant with a small cove that we were seated in. I check out the menu and it’s clearly bullshit prices but she continues talking and calls friends and says that others are joining us. I decline to order anything and she insists that this is rude – by this point I’m aware of what’s happening, but as she persists I excuse myself to leave as the situation becomes more awkward.

Before I can make it through the door frame, two Chinese guys come out of nowhere and are blocking my path. I got the impression that these were two “threatening looking Chinese guys” but I just laughed. Then they took me into a side room with people counting money in it and an old man told me he’d let me go for 500 kuai. I said no so he said 200 kuai. I held up my phone and said I was calling the police and then they opened the door for me to leave without saying a word.

Lesson learned. A funny coincidence is that almost the same thing happened to my father when he was in Shanghai in 1989. He ended up paying something like $50 for a bottle of beer though after being drawn inside by an English speaking Chinese girl.

Scammed: like father, like son.

Published on January 31, 2012

End of the Tour

The tour is finished and I left Nanjing this morning at 8:50am and arrived in Chengdu just before lunch time.

Last night was a blast, but it’s actually really great to be back. We celebrated the last night of the tour together like we had meant to the whole time. Kim, Kimmy, myself, and new recruits Nina and Rob. We chilled at the Xinjiang barbeque place I went every night just down the street from our hotel. I said goodbye to the guy who fixed me the barbeque every night that I was in Nanjing; tried to get him to write his name in my journal so I could remember it, but he couldn’t write at all. Kim and Kimmy wrote a page or two each in my journal, in yearbook style. “It’s been a fun 3 months, etc”. Kim wrote his in Norwegian though, which makes it pretty special to me.

I actually had a number of epiphanies last night. It most likely had something to do with smoking bud for the first time in almost 2 months, but I reflected on the tour and made a few observations that I hadn’t been focusing on when I had my mind on other things. Coors says there’s another tour in November for 3 months and said that there’d be a position available for me if I want it. It allows me to set a good goal; I have to have my infrastructure up and running by November. If I don’t, maybe I’ll do the tour again.

I leave for Bangkok in 14 hours. Tingting is a asleep just a few feet away and I’m trying to type as softly as I can so I don’t wake her. I’m going to pack as lightly as I possibly can for Thailand and Bali. A weekends worth of clothes, my camera equipment, and hopefully a mini external hard drive that operates on a laptop hard drive that I can buy tomorrow before I depart. If not, I’m worried about running out of space for digital photos since I definitely don’t want to bring my computer with me. Too heavy, too expensive, too much hassle. I don’t picture northern Thailand being the type of place where you need a laptop. I don’t even really know what I’ll be doing there, but I picture it more to be swimming in rivers and hiking in jungles than on AIM or checking gmail.

I guess I haven’t written about tonight, which is what my original intent was before sitting down at the computer after arriving home.

I knew that I had only one night in Chengdu and I only had time to see a few friends, but I went to Scotty’s place and met Tenzins friend Jovian from San Francisco. Kimmy is also staying at Tenzins place for a few days. We walk down the street to meet up with Scotty who’s eating on the street with a table full of Xinjiang guys. They’re all speaking Xinjianghua and I cannot understand a word. It sounds like Arabic to me. We’re drinking beer, they’re getting sloppy off baijiu. Scotty and Jovian drink baijiu with them and get fairly wasted pretty quickly, but it was a pretty enjoyable cultural exchange of sorts.

Scotty is definitely the biggest pothead I’ve met in China (he has 12 year old dread locks), so of course he had a pocketfull of hash. He invited the Xinjiang guys back to his place where the living room is full with like 8 people, half of them looking like they’re from Kazikhstan. We smoke some hash and as if on cue, a guitar comes out of nowhere and these guys are jamming the fuck out, singing and everything in whatever language they’re speaking. Jovian pulls out an MPC-2000XL (hip hop production hardware), loads a bay of samples, and sits Scotty in front of it. It’s hard to describe what followed, but it was like a terrible car accident of a rhythm, but was hilarious because the situation and the atmosphere of what was happening was so extremely bizarre. They jammed out for an hour or so, passing the guitar around, all these guys could sing (almost more like a wail) and play guitar simulatenously. I thought they sounded like Gypsy Kings. Pretty fast rhythm on the guitar with a slower, almost raspy vocal style.

New country tomorrow!

Published on August 23, 2005

Nanjing; Last Stop

I’m still in Nanjing, but there are only 5 days left. They aren’t sure if we’re going to Beijing before finishing or not, but I’m out on the 23rd regardless. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been trying to figure out short term plans to make, because I have a flight from Bangkok to Bali on the 27th, but I have too many bags with me now to go directly. I have a plan now though; leave for home (Chengdu) on the 23rd, drop off my bags and relax for two days, and spend two days in Bangkok before leaving. When I get back to Bangkok in the second week of September, I’ll go to Chiang Mai in north Thailand and meet up with Tenzin and crew. That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I’m looking forward to everything, especially seeing my family.

Published on August 18, 2005


Last night wasn’t an outrageous blast, just really eventful. The DJ actually played kick ass music, and he passed off a few CD’s to me which I copied in my laptop. I didn’t get the really vulgar techno song which I wanted to get off him, though. I said thanks and told him my name, and when I asked what his was he just said “HEY MY NAME IS DRACULA” Okay dude! He looked a little vampirish also. Tall lanky guy dressed in black with a wicked overbite and a long black goth-like pony tail. Respect! Next there’s a fight in the club which I don’t actually witness. Suddenly everyone in the club is looking behind me, and when I turn around I see this guys face completely covered in blood. He was either slashed with a knife or hit with a bottle, but regardless, he was walking out all nonchalantly like nothing had happened. I can’t even make up an explanation for that. The elevator up to the club (it was on the 11th floor) had blood all over it also. Afterwards I realized that I missed my chance to scratch the needle across the record and then let the room bask in horrified silence as this guy covered in blood just walks through. Tonights club looks like something out of Austin Powers. It’s got stained glass windows, trippy couches, and cheesy/classy over the top chandeliors all over the place.

Published on August 17, 2005

Nanjing, Coors Tour Conclusion

Today I left Hangzhou and arrived in Nanjing, which means south capitol in Chinese. Beijing means north capitol and tokyo (dongjing in Chinese) means east capitol. Nanjing has actually been the capitol of China twice, first during the Ming dynasty and most recently at the beginning of the 20th century.

This is my second time today at the internet place down the street from my hotel since I don’t have to work today. Except when I came this time it was in the middle of the night and I had to travese another network of dark alleys through which I could hardly see. There was one guy picking through trash, and it wasn’t a casual affair; serious scavenger business. Respect

It’s hot as a motherfucker in this internet place and the girl next to me who’s now eating noodles has been bugging me for the last hour. She’s constantly adjusting her webcam and pointing it at me so her friends can see the caucasian that’s SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO HER OMG I’M SERIOUS LOOK FOR YOURSELF 🙁 I wave and then flick them off and smile and then adjust the camera back towards here to which she reacts violently and immediately adjusts it back. Fuck it, I give up.

This afternoon I was here and I met a girl named Ivy who’s in school to learn english, although we spoke in Chinese the entire time. She understood everything I said, which was sweet. Often I have trouble with people not understanding my Chinese through my American accent, which I do my absolute best to mask. I asked her to watch the Korean movie Sex is Zero with Kim and I, but she had family business to attend to and said we should meet tomorrow. She told me that this city has a giant wall around it and apparently a large number of smaller great walls which she’d show me. Okay, cool.

I just got finished listening to Maiden Voyage by Miles Davis and now I’m tuned to Ry Cooders El Cuarto de Tula on the Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack which is outstanding. It really suits the unbearably-hot atmosphere of this place, and if I wasn’t surrounded by Chinese people I could almost imagine myself in Mexico.

My hotel is really pretty great. According to the elevator I’m on the 5th floor, but by my count I’m on the third. Maybe they’re hiding two floors somewhere that I can’t see. When we arrived Kim was goddamn ecstatic because the hotel brochure indicates that they have a game room with ping pong, billiards, and cards and chess, an exercise room, and two restaurants; one Chinese and one Western. When he asks where all of this is located they, without a trace of shame, tell him that they don’t actually have any of that shit. I almost had to pull him away from the concierge as he was completely stunned:

Concierge: We don’t have any of that stuff.
Kim: What do you mean? It’s right here in the brochure.
Concierge: Yeah, sorry.
Kim: What do you mean you don’t have it?
Concierge: We don’t have it.
Concierge: …..
Me: Okay Kim, lets go now.

Ten days and I’ll be in Thailand.

Published on August 16, 2005