Making new friends and getting good deals in Shanghai

Making new friends and getting good deals in Shanghai

55

Yesterday I took a taxi to Old Street in Shanghai, which was still decorated from the Chinese New Year and upcoming Lantern Festival.

As soon as I got out of my taxi I looked at my map to figure out which way I wanted to go, and was approached by a nice older gentleman who asked me “friend, where are you going?” I explained I was trying to go to Yu Yuan Garden, to which he responded “I go there too.” What a coincidence! So we walked together for a while, and it turned out we had a lot in common — his daughter also lives in the United States, and he used to work in a hotel. On the way to the Garden he showed me several of the tourist attractions, which I appreciated. Among those was this pretty cool contrast between a building that’s hundreds of years old and in the background the World Financial Center (which is where the Park Hyatt Shanghai is located).

We had such a nice conversation that he asked if I wanted to see his pearl shop and learn a bit about pearls. That sounds like an interesting enough experience, so why not? I went up to his pearl shop, and he taught me about various types of pearls. He knew I didn’t want to buy anything, but since we quickly became such good friends he agreed to sell me some at cost. I was still skeptical, though he showed me a book which listed the value of the pearls he was selling, and the value seemed to be about double of what he was offering me. Well, I’m not actually sure of that since the writing was in Mandarin, but that’s what the numbers suggested.

So in the end I purchased about $1,000 worth of pearls, which I figure I can resell in the US for at least double as much. That’ll nearly pay for my trip.

Great bargains — another joy of traveling abroad. You’ve gotta love nice people and how quickly it’s possible to make friends abroad…

And in the end I still got to see Yu Yuan Garden, which was beautiful.

Anyone want some pearls?

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  1. J.L Guest

    You should be wary of these people. Some of them are frauds and like to take advantage of foreigners.

  2. Miles Member

    Hey Ben, I've got to find an anniversary gift for my wife. Do you have any suggestions?

  3. Cedarglen Guest

    Get a grip sheepeole! You've had your chain yanked. (Good one, Ben.)

  4. Nathan Guest

    Wow, I was going to say, you must not make it out of the states much!

  5. lucky OMAAT

    @ Michael -- Hah, the first half of the story was true. And I had no problem engaging him (I always like to see how people want to scam me) till we got to his pearl shop.

  6. Michael T Guest

    Thank you for confirming this was a joke, which I think we all pretty much suspected. (Or hoped.) But what I want to know is: did the first part of the story happen and you were approached by someone that was going the same place as you, daughter in the US, etc...

  7. lucky OMAAT

    @ Andrew -- Worry not, it was a joke. Happy most of you got it.

  8. Andrew B OMAAT

    I am about 80 percent sure this is a joke, but I wish Ben would post a comment to confirm! I worry sometimes.

  9. dmodemd Guest

    Hopefully he learned from the mom in Singapore trying to sell him her daughter... :)

  10. mark Guest

    The only way this is true is if the Chinese man offered Lucky a Diet Coke with lime before going in for the kill.

  11. scott Guest

    You had to go all the way to China to pick up those 3 phrases? Dang. I picked them up from random movies and TV series...

  12. Dan Guest

    Ha. As a result of my travels to Shanghai and Beijing, I know three Chinese phrases, which my Chinese colleagues find absolutely hilarious:

    1. Ni Hao = Welcome
    2. She She = Thank you
    3. Boo Yao = "I don't want" or "Go away" (not sure on the exact translation)

    The later was a direct result of getting hassled to buy useless crap. I went back to my hostel and inquired about a slightly rude way to tell people to leave me alone :)

  13. Carl Guest

    The garden is closed for the next hour for a buddhist ceremony, but you can have tea with me and then I'll take you to the garden.

  14. Ivan Guest

    pretty sure he was not kidding. dude wake up its not the 1st yet. Get your calendar right.

  15. shimon Member

    I hope you're kidding

  16. xp0 Guest

    $1000 for a pearl necklace seems a bit on the high side... ;)

  17. HansGolden Guest

    I was horrified reading this post, as I was sure you were smarter than that! After wrestling a bit, I decided it was my painful duty to break the news to you that you'd been scammed so that you didn't embarrass yourself further. After all, you've done so much for the frequent flyer community, it was time for me to return the favor, even if it was going to be painful. Then I started reading...

    I was horrified reading this post, as I was sure you were smarter than that! After wrestling a bit, I decided it was my painful duty to break the news to you that you'd been scammed so that you didn't embarrass yourself further. After all, you've done so much for the frequent flyer community, it was time for me to return the favor, even if it was going to be painful. Then I started reading the comments and was relieved to realize that they were probably right and you were joking. *whew*

  18. Hendrik Guest

    Everybody knows that there are scammers out there. That's why I only trust those that have a government ID or work for the government tourism board.
    Well, that or the police officers touting AK47 asking for baksheesh in Egypt.
    Now, don't waste any time buying pearls. There are so many great tea ceremonies to be had in Shanghai.

  19. Travis Guest

    People are not comfortable with anything with anything positive coming out of China. Why was last time anything good happened in China? Never.

  20. ucipass Guest

    This has to be one of the funniest and original blog I read for a long time. I have read it to my wife and we both were laughing for like 5 minutes.

    Pearl in shanghai
    Silk in Beijing
    Carpet in Istanbul
    Silver in Mexico

    Shall I go on ? We have all been there.....
    Great Blog

  21. caligal Guest

    hoping you used your chase sapphire card, getting mucho mileage for that big purchase.

  22. brad Guest

    does anyone know where the good girlie bars are in SH? There used to some chicken out in Xintiandi, but apparently the cops are cracking down. I'm heading down to SH next month and would like some poon tang

  23. al613 Guest

    BTW, Ben married his daughter and got into pearl business himself with his new father in law.

  24. BothofUs2 Guest

    Trade ya some Braniff miles for the pearls...

  25. james Guest

    Yu Yuan's buildings are not hundreds years old, they are only around 20 years old or less. They are rebuilt in 90s.

  26. Yichuan Guest

    Well, just to clarify, the pearl may not be fake pearl, but it could be overpriced.

  27. Yichuan Guest

    They always have a daughter in the U.S. (or wherever you come from) and worked in the same (if not, related industry) before. If you really bought that, chances are it's a scam.

  28. LarryInNYC Guest

    You forgot the part where, if it turns out you don't want them, you can return them to any Chinese consulate!

  29. Walter Guest

    Yu Yuan Garden is pretty much insufferable. You cannot go ten yards without an offer for a Rolex, an IPhone, tea, or pearls. After 30 minutes, it becomes a real drag. My suggestion is the Tai Kang Lu area where you can shop in a 1930's era shimuken area with nice shops and restaurants without all of the touts.

  30. Andre Guest

    That's a pretty funny story with the pearls. Apparently there are a few readers concerned about your new purchase. :D

    You could have offered him 1000 US miles for them.

  31. reeder Guest

    Pearls and Tea? Two things Chinese people don't buy from the same store :) Maybe if you punch the boxes, gold coins will fall out.

  32. Nathan G Guest

    Great Post, seems a few readers forgot how well traveled you are :).

  33. steve64 Guest

    Ha Ha. You got me big time ... even tho the whole time I was reading it I was thinking you're too intelligent to fall for this.

    Good to see that the Dairy Queen is ready for the Lantern Festival :)

  34. Glenn Diamond

    It's not April 1 yet

  35. Scott Guest

    Yes, I would like some pearls please. I will pay double what you paid.

  36. bmvaughn Guest

    Hhahahaha I thought this would be a joke post. What a scam.

  37. Jerry Hung Member

    Pearl as in Tapioca in Bubble Tea? :)

    I hope you didn't even buy $1000 RMB worth of them

    Be glad you weren't taken to dark valley to buy counterfeit stuffs (bags, clothes, wallets, etc..)

  38. Karina Guest

    While you were at Old Street did you get to try Nanxiang dumpling house? Makes some of the best xiah long bao!

  39. Antonio Guest

    I was fooled for a moment. I even looked at my calendar to see if it was April 1! :-P

  40. Pat+ Guest

    Nicely done Ben. I must say I had to read the whole thing twice to make sure this was all sarcasm. I really thought you got scammed big time at first :) Hilarious :) I hope no one follows your advice to buy and resell pearls too seriously :)

  41. Brad Guest

    Hilarious. Nicely done Ben.

    Could you venture a guess how many times you have had people say "Hello!" to you while in Shanghai?

  42. Mike Member

    Being a long time reader. I think I know when you're kidding around. And this is one of those cases.

  43. JetAway Guest

    "...since the writing was in Mandarin." I think we got scammed by Lucky.

  44. John Guest

    I'm sure your post was a joke.

  45. John Guest

    Ben, I think you got scammed for the pearls. The better pearl bargains are in Hong Kong. Whether you got a good deal for the $1000 depends entirely on the quality of the pearls. I think this guy took you for a ride.

  46. Ted Guest

    Oh... Sorry, didnt read till the end... my bad...

  47. Dan Guest

    I think he was kidding about buying the pearls.....I hope?

  48. BrewerSEA Gold

    Haha do other commenters really not understand this post is sarcastic? Ben isn't a clueless kettle.

  49. Ted Guest

    Ahhhh... Sorry Ben.... But I'm pretty sure that you were scammed... Be skeptical about those English Speaking people who approaches you near tourist attractions, usually they'll ask you to rest your feet and have a cup of tea which they charge more than 300 USD, or like you mentioned, take a look at the pearls...

  50. Carl Guest

    How many strands did you purchase? Sounds very high. I can typically get a strand in Bangladesh for only a few dollars.

  51. Shawn New Member

    Next time you are in CO come and visit me, I will sell you some prime property at the top half of Pike peak certain to double in value by the time you leave my drive up office. To top it off, it is made in America and will not break down for millions of years.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

J.L Guest

You should be wary of these people. Some of them are frauds and like to take advantage of foreigners.

0
Miles Member

Hey Ben, I've got to find an anniversary gift for my wife. Do you have any suggestions?

0
Cedarglen Guest

Get a grip sheepeole! You've had your chain yanked. (Good one, Ben.)

0
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