Jump to content
Chinese-Forums
  • Sign Up

Dealing with the locals as a tourist


Johnny20270

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I am just curious as to how others, especially those living in china, deal with the locals constantly bugging you, selling you things, and generally irritating the you.

I have been to china several times and although I have a love/hate relationship with the place I think it must be tough for those living there.

When I was in shanghai I was constantly getting hassled by prostitutes/ people selling me crap, begging etc As a guest I am always polite but sometimes it was getting a bit much. Sitting in a park and several times people just sit beside me annoying me, sticking useless junk in my face to buy. They don’t get the message to go away. This only happened in a tourist place of course.

When I was with my Chinese friend she has no trouble getting rid of them with a lot of stern language and hand waving. haha

In London, or anywhere in Europe for that matter I can deal with this in seconds as we are just used to it and don’t feel the need to hold back from letting the person know they’re being annoying.

What do you guys do? Particularity the Americans / Canadians as this must be a big cultural different from your very friendly home land!

Thanks

PS: I am not on about shy pretty local girls smiling and wanting to talk to me, that was perfectly fine. :D

I

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally with a Chinese friend there is an understanding that the Chinese friend is your host and sellers/solicitors are not supposed to disturb you. One time I was visiting the Great Wall with a Chinese friend and sellers were about to approach me when the friend said, "她是跟我们的“ so they backed off. Other times when I was by myself I would walk past very quickly with no eye contact so as to not get involved in buying and selling stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This only happened in a tourist place of course.

...and there you have your solution.

Personally, waving them away and then totally ignoring them worked best for me.

What do you guys do? Particularity the Americans / Canadians as this must be a big cultural different from your very friendly home land!

It's important to understand that it's not a cultural thing. It is something that happens every time a country with extensive poverty receives huge numbers of (comparably) rich foreign tourists spending exorbitant amounts of money for local standards.

I was really annoyed by all the hawking and harrassment in China (big cities, mostly), but I had exactly the same experience in rural Turkey, Morocco and Thailand. Once you understand that your camera is worth more than their family spends in a year, you stop being offended by it.

This doesn't mean that you should buy stuff you don't want, or that you aren't being ripped off. Completely ignoring them works best in my experience, but it's a hassle you will have to get used to, as long there are such extreme differences in life standards.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Generally with a Chinese friend there is an understanding that the Chinese friend is your host and sellers/solicitors are not supposed to disturb you.

You're lucky.

Typically there is an understanding that my girlfriend is my local translator or tourist guide and that she can be coerced into tricking the stupid foreigner in exchange for a cut. Then they all focus on her with even more vigour.

THAT annoys me much more.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found the same thing pretty annoying in India, but my friends who were both in India and China told me "You'll love China. People actually understand when you don't want to buy stuff. You don't have to yell" so I figure it can't be that bad (I hope...) :wink:

Typically there is an understanding that my girlfriend is my local translator or tourist guide and that she can be coerced into tricking the stupid foreigner in exchange for a cut. Then they all focus on her with even more vigour.

Gosh :roll: And is there anything you can do to clear up the situation? Talk in Chinese or something like that?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gosh :roll: And is there anything you can do to clear up the situation? Talk in Chinese or something like that?

It really depends. If you're in a tourist area, you walk away, and they will usually jump on the next tourist, who will hopefully be more cooperative. Of course, the next hawker will jump on you immediately, so the best thing to do is to go there, see the sights, take your photos, and then get out of there. Engaging in a friendly conversation just encourages them, because they feel that they are "making a connection".

But this one time in Luoyang, an old guy got on our backs as soon as we got out of the train and was trying to drag us to a hotel. Even after we explained that we had already paid for one. It took us about 45 minutes to figure out where we are, where we needed to go, to queue for the tickets, and to get to a taxi. He didn't give up during these 45 minutes. He kept circling around me in order to get to my girlfriend and talk to her, and I kept trying to position myself between them. I really felt sorry for my girlfriend, who was trying to get rid of him in the polite, harmonious Chinese way, which only made her a better target than me, who ignored him and pretended not to understand. Losing your temper in such a situation will not help you at all, you will just look like an aggressive foreigner. There's no way out of it, it's hell.

In fact, walking separately works best. People leave her alone because she's just a regular Chinese girl. They give up on me sooner or later because I ignore them. If we walk together, then it's either because I'm a businessman, or because I bought a mail-order bride. The positive side is that she never takes me shopping with her in China: taking me along triples the price!

Another time, a faux taxi driver kept asking my girlfriend how rich I was and how much money I was carrying. In this case, speaking Chinese to him provided immediate relief, and he didn't say anything after that.

There is a difference here. The old guy was a poor peasant who gets a couple of kuai whenever he drags a tourist into a hotel. His family probably needs this money. The taxi guy was a con-man and a predator, pure and simple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am just curious as to how others, especially those living in china, deal with the locals constantly bugging you, selling you things, and generally irritating the you.

I'm not living in China, but as a tourist it was extremely rare to be bugged. Only exception was Beijing and basicly only a few places (sanlitan & wangfujing quite annoying, tiananmen and haihou lake limited). Overcharging is more of an issue, but basicly only at the tourist hotspots (but maybe I'm naive and payed happily far too much). I feel China is pretty much hassle free, or at least no more hassle then other places where it's obvious that I don't belong there. In my experience up till now only Africa offers real hassle. Though sometimes not even real hassle but just plain unashamed excessive overcharging.

As said by others, just be clear and don't show any kind of attention/interest. It also helps if you just look poor. No fancy clothing, and jewelry but old, worn clothes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am just curious as to how others, especially those living in china, deal with the locals constantly bugging you, selling you things, and generally irritating the you.

I find this is a problem at tourist locations, but not really relevant to daily life.

I have been to china several times and although I have a love/hate relationship with the place I think it must be tough for those living there.

I don't find it tough being a non-tourist here. In fact, I rather like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ha ha I feel your pain. I remember Nanjing road in Shanghai to be hell - the worst I've seen so far is in Thailand thou.

Here in Dongbei I never cease to be amazed on how is that I just cannot be let browse shops in peace - or even stroll accross a shopping mall without being bothered (in some places).

In some shopping malls you have people welcoming/beckoning you into their shops when you are like walking past 10 feet away.

In most supermarkets you have somebody shaking products in your face and talking non-stop the moment you approach a certain shelf. Any attempt to reason with them only causes them to stare at you confused for a couple of seconds then resume their assault of ultra-fast Chinese plus product-in-your-face shaking.

Any signs of approachability (and thus politeness) are misunderstood as weakness - If I don't ignore them completely (at which they still insist mindlessly a couple of times) I learned from a Thai friend to reply in any tongue you are fluent at other than English or Chinese. It's funny how confused and helpless they look after a barrage of slang in your mother tongue! What were they just doing anyway?!

In all these cases, in China, Thailand, Cuba or elsewhere, it's like they think I'm going to stop doing whatever I've planned to do and go buy their product just because someone says "heeey meeester!" - sorry, that's insulting. I'm wearing sports gear, I'm carrying a pair of boxing gloves in a bag (yes, you can more or less see them) and I'm walking as fast as I can and glacing at my watch each other moment because I'm calculating how long I have before muay thai class. . . and I'm going to stop and walk into some tailor place to buy an "authentic" suit? relax and enjoy some swordfish steak? a feet massage? Do these people have brain damage or what? Sorry, that's more like Thailand and Cuba than China. . . but still.

From another angle and back to China, I can't help thinking this must work for the Chinese or whoever in some way. Back home, I don't see three employees (or one for that matter) at each supermarket shelf just to push products. These people cost money and when they are not bothering customers they are just chatting among themselves - there must be a reason for them to be there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember Nanjing road in Shanghai to be hell -

Nanjing Road in Shanghai was shocking. I got hassled about 10 times in one street

Yeah I know what you mean about shops. I guess its how you perceive it. Even in Nanjing shopping centers, the minute you look at someone they are talking in Chinese at 1000 words a minute, lol Even in kunming in the north part away from the tourists places, people were shoving stuff in my face in the markets, admittedly no where near as frequently. All part of the culture I guess.

My worse experience was in renmin gongyuan, in the park for 1.5 hours and where I was bugged at least 5 times by couples, who wanted me to go to a tea ceremony. It was hot, I was tired from walking around and just wanted to be left alone. These are just scams of course which, as someone mentioned earlier, is much more annoying. I understand people trying to scape by via selling products to foreigners but if your a scammer, your a stain on humanity in my opinion irrespective of what country you're from.

As renzhe said, its the same in any country that has extensive poverty. Turkey was a complete plain in the @ss, to be honest

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hm, that's funny, I talked to a German girl who lived in Hangzhou for a year, and she never mentioned being hassled, on the opposite, she was full of praise how helpful Chinese people were (without "charging" for their help, like they would in India). What she did mention was that a lot of people asked if they can take a picture with her, for her exotic looks :roll::lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What she did mention was that a lot of people asked if they can take a picture with her, for her exotic looks

I always get that. No complaints about that haha. I am 6'3 and dark blonde though so stick out. When I got out of a taxi in qinhuangdao away from a tourist areas, I got several people at a bus stop taking photos and a lot of "ahhh Hallo" and "ahh laowai!" (I think), Felt like a celebrity :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

#14 --

Back home, I don't see three employees (or one for that matter) at each supermarket shelf just to push products. These people cost money and when they are not bothering customers they are just chatting among themselves - there must be a reason for them to be there.

These girls in the supermarkets who wear special attention-grabbing clothes and want you to buy one brand of yogurt or instant noodles that's "on special today only" work on commission. They aren't employees of the store.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...