Shanghai Shenanigans (and a ‘shocking’ scam exposed)

Spent a couple of days in Shanghai, and must thank RC right off the bat – I stayed at his place, and we hit up some fun places to eat and drink in the evenings.

Pictures of the city, and the FnB places follow.

Also, an expose! Read on find about more about the notorious “Yu Garden tea ceremony scam artists”!

Arriving on the speed trains from Beijing

My accommodation for a few nights. Great CBD views.

Getting some good street grub. Only 10 RMB!

Sunday night at Doctor Beer – ok live music, but great craft beers

Just what the doctor ordered

@288 Live bar. Live Chinese and English music every night. The night we went, was an X-factor esque music competition, complete with judges providing feedback at the end of every round!

Streets of Shanghai

My ‘home’ tube stop. West Nanjing road

Over in the CBD. High rises again yo!

“Bello China.” Minions, obliviously made in China

At RC’s ‘hidden gem’

Enjoying the view.

Macao steamboat place

Right, now about the scam. Around noon, I was walking around Yu gardens, a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, when a young Chinese couple approached me.

“Could you help us take a picture,” they asked. I obliged and took a couple of snaps on their iPhone. After that, we got to talking. The kids spoke really good English, and were apparently students from another part of China, who were in Shanghai for only a week. They were very friendly – almost too friendly. We talked for a bit more, and they asked what my plans were. They said they were going to a tea ceremony that happened only once a year, and could get me in. I was intrigued, naturally, since they were so friendly, and I was always searching for ‘autheticity.’ But, being generally suspicious, I declined and started walking away. They were quite insistent, but doing the big city (aka, rude) thing, I just quietly slinked away. Going with them might have been fun and an “authentic experience,” but something seemed off.

While I was thinking about this, not more than 50metres away, the exact same thing happened to me with another couple. I went through the motions, talked to them for a while, and like clockwork, a couple of minutes into the conversation they offered to take me to a tea ceremony. This time, I was ready. “Oh, I just came from one” I responded. Slightly disappointed, and having had 5 minutes of their lives wasted, the other couple walked away, in search of other tea ceremony loving tourists.

I walked further down the street, and saw the same thing happening a few times. For your voyeuristic pleasure, below is a blow by blow account of how it happens:

Step 1: Couple asks tourist for help with picture

Step 2: Couple use amazing conversation skills to get tourist interested in tea

Step 3: Couple asks tourist to join them. Note the proximity of cop car – obviously to lend air of safety/legitimacy to friendly couple’s operation

Step 4: Tourist goes with couple, and from what I gather, gets overcharged at the tea house. (Note – tourist in previous pictures did not go with the couple, else I would have intervened, obviously)

Lol no, this isn’t the tea house I was talking about. But man do they overcharge for bad coffee!

At Yu gardens

Mmm yes, dim sum!

Japanese skewers/BBQ with RC

Shanghai in the moonlight.

Public transport

Travel facts
Cumulative cost of travel so far
GBP: 2,877 plus EUR: 1,308 plus RUB: 43,765 plus USD: 454

Free, at the One Shanghai, courtesy RC
Shanghai Spending: 122 GBP

Leave A Comment?