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One of the things a foreigner might dislike about China is the hard sell that you'll get whenever you try and buy anything, and I mean anything.

Department stores in China aren't like they are in the west. Instead of a Sears, or John Lewis having a complete floor in a shopping centre, a "store" may have a 5 metre square selling space and it's their job to grab as many customers (and hence sales) as they can as the poor unsuspecting fools walk past.

Anyhow, as soon as they see foreigner (i.e. white) they think in terms of fools and money to be parted from them. Literally. You can see the cartoon Yuan signs running through their eyes as you approach. All of a sudden people who claim to know no English in other circumstances are all "Hello, you want....?"

Once it might be amusing. Twice you'll start thinking "yeah, well." The third and fourth time you'll start thinking "go away." The problem is that the department stores have such small shops in them that you'll run into 10 of them on the way in and another 10 on the way out.

As an example, today I went for a mooch round town. I don't usually but was at a loose end, what can I say. Anyway I was walking past this store when a guy came out trying to see me watches, you know, ones like you see being worn in adverts by the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Nicolas Cage or Maria Sharapova. He asked 5 times if I wanted one. Five times I said no. One the 6th occasion he asked, I turned round and waited for him to catch up. He asked a 7th time whether I wanted a watch. I made it really clear I didn't want a bloody watch, thinking that would be the end of it, only to have him ask if I wanted to buy a bloody coat. At this I turned it on its' head (and I have no idea where this came from). I asked him if he had a problem with the damn coat I was wearing. No he replied. Before he could continue I told him that clearly he had, because why else would he suggest I buy a replacement. At this point I could see him thinking "Oh farq there's no way out of this one." I wasn't shouting. In fact it was surreal. I just steamrolled him verbally. He tried to explain things like he was just trying to sell me a coat, and all I did was tell him things like he was demeaning the coat that my other half had given me as a Christmas present (ok, she gave it to me as a present in 1993, but who's counting?). It was all rather amusing after a while. I enjoyed it but I think it pained him some.

Anyway, moving on another thing you'll find is that when you arrive where you were planning to go, they'll try and sell you the most expensive thing there. If you ask for a duvet, you'll be offered silks sheets. If you ask for a toaster, you'll be offered one with enough electronics to manage a space shot. If you want an iron, I suspect they'll offer one that can play the national anthem. Now I don't mind that, but it gets old when they start to argue with you about whether or not you want something else.

Now I know the Chinese talk like they're shouting, but I can tell when someone's trying to guilt me into spending more money than I need and that's exactly what they're doing to non-natives in Chinese stores.

The beggars are the same way. As soon as they see a foreigner, they're chasing you down the road to get money off you. I had one start banging a stick on the floor (and swearing I think) because I wouldn't give him money. It was only when I turned round, scowled at him and waited for him to catch up that he stopped and decided against it.

I mean bloody hell. That's taking the piss, really it is. I shouldn't have to act bolshie and pissed off all the time to get little jobs done.

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jamiebowen0306
jamiebowen0306

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