Thursday, December 06, 2007

We love travel disaster 4 -

Our driver

Ira finally makes it down with the baby in the pack from the hill/mountain.
He is getting it from all directions, as his legs are on fire from the steep hill down: vendors, kids (the vendors know how to work kids here and attempt to bargain with them too) and me... firing conversion questions--

How much is 350 RMB???

what's 20% of 422????"

How many US dollars is 719 RMB"?????

It takes Ira about .004 seconds to do any currency conversion in his head-- I can do it, I just have to go sit down under a tree somewhere for awhile to figure it.

Also, it is quite funny the way Ira bargains. He does it in a long and painful way, but he does get the rock bottom price.

Ira: How much for that opium pipe?

rip-off vendor: How much you pay?

Ira: I pay 2 cents.

rip-off vendor: What? ha ha! You funny. 80 dollars. Antique! bargain!

Ira: Ok, Here is my final price. 3 cents. Final!

rip-off vendor: You crazy! Ok, 60 dollars. No lower. Best Price!

Ira: goodbye. (turns and walks)

rip-off vendor: Wait! 35 dollars! for you only!

So this goes on for awhile. I don't have the patience, but Ira will go on and on.

His final price is maybe 10 bucks.

We are trying to get out of the crazy vendor souvenir alley, and back to our car in the lot. It's nuts here. Celia then walks up to Ira a bit upset-- she bargained to have a stamp with her name inscribed on it in English and Chinese, and paid for it in advance while they made it. But then forgot which stall she bought it from, and nobody was admitting to having the stamp.

So Ira steps in and starts asking various vendors who took her money for the stamp. Well all those chatty-please-come-here vendors suddenly got hush hush.

*This* is when you get mad. All of that being nice -nice while these people are bugging the crap out of you , and now you are getting totally ripped off--no, your DAUGHTER is getting totally ripped off. Oooh.

After asking (loudly) who took her money again, while everyone turns away, Ira gets mean.
WAS IT YOU? point.
WAS IT YOU? point. point.

Oh my gosh now I really want to leave. I don't like this kind of confrontation, especially when it involves stealing etc. Yikes. Please lets end this. Ira starts walking back up the ally.


A guy finally admits to it. I think he was waiting in the wings for us to just disappear, but as Ira started approaching he saw that Ira meant business.

In the meantime, a different vendor made Celia a stamp, but she hadn't paid for it (another misunderstanding) and this woman wanted her money. Ira was in no mood, we were desperate to get out, and then she starts yelling at Ira that we ripped her off.

We hustled out quickly.

Ira to himself: ha! woo hoo...$225 bucks down to $35. love it. I am so cool
Vendor to herself: ha! $35 on that $2 junk


Blogger Ira said...

The thing about yelling in China is - you just can't help it. They seem to be constantly haranguing each other, so why should tourists be exempt? Such confrontations are pretty stressful for me, but I think the Chinese thrive on it. I'll bet they goad several tourists a day into this kind of reaction.

It didn't help that my legs were on the verge of collapse after trekking the Wall and descending with Annika on my back the whole way. All I wanted to do was get out of there and then I find myself haggling over a difference of three dollars with these lunatic vendors. You'd think I'd just pay the extra already but it's not like you find yourself liking them enough to give in. You know they're sharp business people who squeeze every cent out of every tourist they can get their hands on, using every trick in the book, so you feel like you have to push back and not allow it to happen to you. And then they rip your daughter off...

Funny thing is, I'm sure they don't take it personally. They probably just shrug and say, "well, we got under the skin of another Western Imperialist Dog - too bad we couldn't rip him off even more." And back they go - to work on the next poor sap.

6:31 AM  

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