Tag Archives: scorpion on a stick

Getting Scammed and Eating Scorpions at Wangfujing Street, Beijing

As many ways as there are to make bread, love, or kill a man, there are just as many ways to run a scam in Beijing and it goes something like this, a tourist is approached by a local person, a pretty girl, student, or friendly person and asks if the tourist would like to go for a drink. The local takes the tourist to a specific bar and they order drinks, food, and when the bill arrives it turns out to be an exorbitant amount of money. If the tourist resists in paying the bill the police are called or depending on the situation it could be worse.

I’m traveling with my girlfriend and we went to dinner at the biggest mall in Beijing located on Wangfujing street. We finish and walk out into the Mall  and my companion says she needs to visit the toilet. I am left alone in the middle of the mall and all of a sudden these two young beautiful 20 something girls approach me and start a conversation. They start flirting and coming on to me, I’m all a giggle, and they are obviously interested in me, right?

Lets get real people. I am a middle aged average looking guy and there is no frigging way these two beautiful women are coming on to me, no frigging way, so it occurs to me I’m in the middle of a scam! Now I could brush them off but I decide to have some fun. The young girls ask if I’m with my wife.

“No, no wife” I say as I look towards the bathroom.

“We are looking for a place for dinner and some drinks.” The more confident girl said as she twirls her hair.

To ensure I have the advantage of the situation i start to notice their body language. Both girls’ shoulders were erect with plenty of eye contact. I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was observing or approaching from behind. I pointed to the escalator. “There are plenty of restaurants down there.”

“No they are getting ready to close. Where are you staying?” the second girl asked as she lightly touched my arm, more body language to show interest and affection.

I moved a little closer and kept close observant of their eyes.

“I’m staying at the Marriot.” Not really but I want to see their reaction when I said I was staying at one of the most expensive hotels in Beijing. The less confident girl’s eyes quickly dilated indicating extreme interests or more like, “We have hit the big money.”

The first girl asked  “We are going down the street would you like to join us?”

I looked over at the bathroom again and wondered where my companion was.

“Who are you waiting for?” the second girl asked as she noticed my interest in the toilet door.

At that time my girlfriend comes out looking not too pleased as she sees these two young girls paying more attention to me than they should. I wrap my arm around my partner and whisper in her ear. “Play along.”

I addressed the two girls. “This is my girlfriend.”

“Oh that’s nice, the American with an Asian woman.” One girl whispers to the other. “We are still looking for a drink, care to join us?”

It was time to end this little game and I smiled and said, “No we are heading home but would you care to join us in our room?” eyebrows going up and down.

The two girls laughed, realized we were on to them and waved a goodbye.

I felt a sharp punch to the rib. My girlfriend glared at me. “What were you going to do if they said yes?!

Apparently many people fall for this scam and this scenario happened to us twice during our stay in Beijing so it’s wise to be prepared and aware.

Wangfujing Street, Beijing

Wangfujing is the main shopping area in Beijing. High-end shops line the avenue but what you want to do is go off the main grid and get behind the scenes. Not only will the prices be cheaper the food gets a little bizarre. 

You think I ate this stuff? Think again. At the end of Wangfujing is St. Josephs where people line dance every evening to Chinese top-40 hits, a pleasant way to end an evening.

Next Tianaman Square and the Forbidden City

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Mountain Biking Beijing

There are many wonders, smells, and buildings that define Beijing and none more so than the following urban sights and food. But, to see all that you need to see you can’t do it by subway, taxi, or rickshaw, you have to bike it. It’s the fastest way to get across town and if the distance is to far, park the bike at the subway for a few pennies. If you get a flat, stop at the roadside bike repair guy.

Beijing is a bikers dream if you are savvy enough to work around the crowds and traffic and ever since the 2008 Olympics there are public bathrooms everywhere.  Every road has a bike lane on either side again watch out for the occasional small car using the bike lanes.

These are our trusty steeds, the typical working mans bicycle, gangly, heavy, single speed dependable tanks on two wheels. Beijing is flat so no need for gears although mountain bikes are starting to make a big showing.

Best part of the trip is getting lost in ancient, centuries old Chinese neighborhoods called “Hontongs”. You have to get here before the city swallows them up because development has become their cancer.

The narrow alleyways and maze of these neighborhoods take you back to the way it was. We happened to get lost in a few.

We left the comforts of our modern hotel to experience the old China court room home turned into a bed and breakfast located down a narrow Hontong alleyway the taxi driver would not venture down.

“Get out here.” The taxi driver said.

“But where is our hotel?” I asked. “Why don’t you take us down the street?”

“Street to narrow. Walk down there.” He pointed to this alleyway.

Take note of this laundry, we will get back to this place in a moment.

We finally come to our hotel, circa 1920’s, it is quaint, clean, great staff, and actually quite a nice place, and I loved it.

So funny thing happened on the way to the laundry. By day this establishment cleans clothes and does dry cleaning, but by night the proprietor hangs out a different shingle. I told my girlfriend “we better check our clothes when we get back.”

One of our first meals and for some reason the Chinese like the head served with the entrée, we experienced many meals with heads.

Next Tiananmen Square