By Student, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

One of my most vivid memories of China was getting scammed in Beijing. A friend and I were walking through Tiananmen Square when we ran into these girls about our age. One of them was studying English and economics at some university in Beijing and the other was visiting her for the week and they seemed really happy to meet us. We discussed Semester At Sea, our lives in the U.S., their lives in China and a variety of other things. Anyway, we spent about half an hour talking in the square when they suggested we go to dinner. They were very nice and friendly and as a foreigner, I was very excited to be having a real conversation with locals. My friend was not as enthused and I am still not sure why my scam meter didn't go off immediately. They suggested going to a Karaoke bar and of course I was an idiot and said we would go. So we get there and start ordering drinks, talking and signing songs for about an hour and everything is going well, when my friend and I said we got to meet our other friends for dinner so let’s get the check. It turns out the wine the girls ordered was about 600 dollars. They said that in China, usually the guys pay for the girls and we countered with usually the girls don't order a 600 dollar bottle of wine without asking. So they asked, do you have a credit card and we said no (which was a lie) so after 10 minutes they finally said give us all your cash and we will put the rest on our card. This was bad and cost us each about 150 bucks but it could have been worse. We are still not sure if they blatantly scammed us from the beginning (and maybe even gave us a fake price on the wine) or if they just had expensive tastes. This kind of ruined the rest of my night, made me super annoyed, especially since my friend sort of saw it coming and made me uninterested in trying to talk to locals the rest of the trip. In the future, I should listen more in pre-port.