Beaker’s World: How to Get Robbed in China

Growing up I never traveled. I barely made it out of my state. The only reason I traveled to a neighboring state was because my grandparents lived there, and my parents had to visit them at least once a year. So I am not a smart, well traveled man who knows all the ins and outs of other cultures.

Growing up as naive as I have, it is no surprise that when I was taken to a market in China that I was not to be trusted to not overspend. But in my defense there is more to this  ignorance then just haggling for a good price. I am also not a knowledgeable shopper in general. I don’t know how much a cashmere sweater is supposed to cost. I don’t even know how much a wallet or a belt is supposed to cost.

Spending any amount is really where I went wrong.

Here is my perspective on learning how to shop in China…

Aloysa and I decided to go shopping at the Pearl Market in Beijing. My wife made many mistakes in this shopping trip. One, leaving all the cash with me. Two, leaving me alone and going to the restroom. Huge mistakes… that she has told me she will never do again. The restroom she will do of course, but the money will always stay with her from now on.

At first I was just going to patiently stand outside the restroom waiting for her to come out. But for some unknown reason I decided to look around at some of the shops to see what was for sale.

There was anything you want in this huge market. From dresses to suits. Shoes to hats. Pearls to watches. It was an amazing place, and I felt as out of place as a bald man at a barber shop. Most of the store workers were young people, and these kids saw me coming from a mile away.

First, I bought a belt that I didn’t need.Cost: $100. That was after being left alone for about 10 minutes. You would think that after buying the belt that I would be clever enough and go try and find Aloysa. Oh no, that would have been the smart thing to do. Of course, hind sight was twenty-twenty, but at the time I had really not done anything wrong and besides, I was just looking around.

These young kids were amazing because I heard them speaking many different languages to their foreign customers. I heard Spanish, French, Italian, Russian among others. They would try and get my attention by speaking English and, when I didn’t answer them, they would go into what sounded to me to be Dutch, maybe? But what was impressive wasthe ease at which they switched from one language to another without any hesitation that I could hear.

Before I could get my bearings, I had bought a cashmere sweater for $300 and a wallet for another $100, and thank goodness my cash had run out. I left their shop broke and saying to myself, “Aloysa is going to kill me.”

When I did finally find her buying pearls, I was right. She kept reminding me that I didn’t want to buy anything to begin with, and kept asking me how this happened that I spent $500 within thirty minutes. She also said that the belt and the wallet didn’t look like leather at all. Cashmere… till this day Aloysa has her doubts.

I am a person who doesn’t like to say no to people, and that is where I went wrong. This was the lesson that I learned in that Pearl market in China. I learned that I don’t know how to haggle the price of goods at all. I am not a person who can put a price on things because I don’t know what a decent price is.

My eyes have been opened for me and I know that I will not do this again. Mostly, because Aloysa is not going to let me carry all the cash. Ever.

27 thoughts on “Beaker’s World: How to Get Robbed in China

    1. Aloysa

      Stuff is cheap there! Just make sure you bargain and you can get really good deals. If you don’t bargain… you get robbed. Just like Beaker!

    1. Aloysa

      Believe me I was fuming beyond any words… He heard about it from me for months… I still remind him about it.

  1. Lindy Mint

    At least you can say you helped support the hard-working merchants!

    PS: Don’t go on The Price is Right until you get this one figured out.

  2. retirebyforty

    Holy Moly! $100 bucks for a belt? Yikes! Yeah, don’t buy anything while you’re on a trip.
    We got robbed a bit in Beijing too. We were trying to find this particular mansion and got lost. So we flagged down a tricycle guy and he said 40RMB and we said fine. He took us around the corner about 50 yards away and insisted it was 40 RMB each! Jeez, even season travelers get taken sometime. I call it tourist tax.
    Oh well, next time you’ll be more aware.

    1. Aloysa

      You see I knew about this scam, so we were (should say – I was) very careful when negotiating a ride. In the market Beaker was all by himself… Oh well… at least we supported Chinese economy, right?

  3. Squirrelers

    Wow, that’s a ton of money to be spent in such a short period of time! I have been to China, though it was quite a few years ago, and I recall some really good bargains to be had where we were “allowed” to shop. Looks like quite the different place today!

  4. Suba @ Wealth Informatics

    Wow! $500 in 30 mins? It is a lesson learned the hard way, but it would still hurt if it were me…

  5. Kellen

    They totally saw you coming buddy. $100 for a belt? That wouldn’t even be a good purchase if it WAS a leather belt!

  6. Jessica07

    Good girl, Aloysa! I’d take the cash away, too. LOL! Just kidding. We all have little spending splurges now and again, Beaker… they just usually stay in the double digits for me.

    Great title, though–totally worth the $500 bucks.

  7. Deidre

    Beaker, Beaker, Beaker…what are we gonna do with ya? No matter, Aloysa has your back
    You guys are a great team! Live N Learn, thats the name of the game.

    I took my BF to New Orleans and it was almost the same kind of thing there. My BF did not seem to understand that the people who come up and start shining your shoes, talking a mile a minute, were just con artists and you really dont HAVE to give them any money, much less take out a wad in front of them and thumb through it looking for the smallest bill to give. Needless to say, the ‘shoe shiner’ grabbed a 20 out of his hand and said ‘yea that will be 10 for each foot, have a nice day’.

    I never let dear BF carry cash again either after that! Poor guy still does’nt know what hit him!

    1. Aloysa

      I would be furious. I would yell and scream and chase that shoe shiner down. Well… maybe … no chasing part but definitely screaming. Where were you when this was happening? At least I was in the restroom or buying pearls.

      1. Deidre

        I was arguing with the guy about how he was taking advantage, working myself up into a huge ‘soap box’ moment; and dear BF was trying to calm me down while looking through all his cash LOL

        It was crazy and in the end the ‘shoe shine guy’ grabbed the 20 and ran down the street – I am sure we were attracting way too much attention I was just glad that he only got a 20!

        Ever since then dear BF gets small bills to carry and only a couple in his jeans pocket at a time when we are being tourists!

        1. Aloysa

          What a story! You were lucky that the guy didn’ t take the whole wallet.

          I always wanted to go to New Orleans. Now, I know for sure that if we go, Beaker is not carrying even a wallet.

  8. First Gen American

    Pearl Market is wonderful. I actually got pearls there. I had the ultimate home team advantage though. I was travelling with someone who was chinese. When she negotiated, she was just about yelling at the vendors. I don’t know what she was saying, but yelling and faking to walk away brought the price way down quick.

    I would have been sick to my stomach if I spent that much money in so little time (unless it was an oriental rug. I love oriental rugs).

    1. Aloysa

      I got exellent pearls there for my mother and myself. I did bargain. Hard. Got yelled at once but still got the price I wanted.

  9. Everyday Tips

    Did Aloysa try to strangle you with the belt when she returned from the bathroom?

    I am not a world traveler and I am about to ask the dumbest question… could the merchandise not be returned? I am assuming not as that would have been the easiest solution to your ten minutes of weakness?

    Thanks for sharing Beaker!

    1. Aloysa

      Hahaha! I was about to strangle him! But was busy buying pearls and then… oh well… it was too late. No, you cannot return merchandise.

Comments are closed.