This post is dedicated to the negative aspects of being a westerner in a foreign country. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloomy but it’s far fetched to think that travelling is all fun and games, as in reality it can be challenging in many ways.
Beijing is beautiful, interesting and diverse, as are its people. However, with most places around the world there are the 1% of people who attempt to make your life very difficult. The problem me and Georgia are having is facing scammers who will do anything to take your money. I think that we were a little naive in coming here. We had not had any problems whatsoever in Riga or Moscow so maybe we felt a little too comfortable with people and their intentions.
We have been attempted scammed so far 3 times here. Respectively these people are not stupid, it is almost an art, with pre determined scripts of conversation and acute observation skills in reading body language and vulnerability.
Us being the most western looking people possible we have been approached by scammers asking if they could speak to us to practise their English. This to me seems like a completely legitimate thing to ask someone, you oblige of course not wanting to be rude and if you think that you could help someone, why not? Things then spiral a bit out of control after asking question after question, something didn’t seem right when the bloke (it was a couple) asked me the same question several times (where I was from in England) then things get weird when they say they wanted to take us to have a coffee somewhere. At this point I should of said no but it’s difficult when they seem so nice and genuinely interested in you. I sort of murmured ‘okay’ until we got to the place where we were supposedly going to have a coffee. It was a seedy looking entrance and other Chinese people were looking at us as if to say ‘hmm why are they bothering those tourists’. As expected my instincts kicked in and I thought to myself, they have a better chance of convincing me to streak naked down the road tban getting me in there. I held Georgia’s hand and said no thank you were going to walk to the main square. Now things get strange. The guys tone of voice switched to anger, telling (almost shouting) at me that I agreed to have a coffee with him and that I promised him and I was being rude. He started to get a little aggressive, me being a completely chilled person started to get a annoyed. I dont care about people getting aggressive towards me, it’s a sign of weakness and if anything I could of made a scene and got aggressive back. My main priority whilst travelling is keeping Georgia safe, that’s number one. At this point I felt as if this bloke was threatening that so i held her hand tighter and said bye were leaving. He then proceeded to shout obscenities at me as I walked off. If I wasn’t with Georgia I probably would of confronted him as the profanities that wee coming out of his mouth were quite hurtful and utterly unacceptable. But we walked on and we had learnt a valid lesson; don’t trust anyone.
It really deflated me to have to come to the conclusion of thinking that. After all the main reason I had decided to travel is to meet people from all over the world, and this is now being jeopardised by the only people who wanted to talk to us wanting to lure us in to take our money. I have never in my life been in a situation where I thought I couldn’t trust people. It put me in a contemplative yet deflated mood,but by all means it didn’t ruin our day.
I know travel blogs are meant to showcase the amazing parts of travelling but to me that seems superficial and incorrect, for the lack of a better word. It is important in my opinion to comment on the negatives in the same demeanour as commenting on the positives, as this is what we are truly experiencing.
To end on a lighter note we had a lovely remainder of our afternoon, sitting down and having a coffee, wandering through some Hutongs, playing in an arcade and checking out the endless supply of department stories.
Next time someone asks me if I speak English, I might speak in Clingon back and be none the wiser.