Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Most expensive tea ceremony, continued

There is a sensational follow-up to the tea ceremony story.

Spoiler warning: be sure to read the initial story first.

I walk home in the evening on the same day, passing again the road near Tiananmen square. When I stop at the lights I meet two Chinese girls who speak English. Funny that they introduce themselves with the English names like “Jessica”, which they think is “cool”. What you were doing all day? Maybe you want to go the old town south of the square? Well I’ve been to this tea ceremony… Oh really? Where was it? We want to go too! But it was expensive, you know – doesn’t matter, they want to go. And they hurry in the direction of the shopping street.

Strange, I think, the city seems to be obsessed with tea ceremonies. And the girls said they were from Tsindao. Capital of beer. Ping and the other also were from Tsindao. But it’s evening and all this thoughts run in the background, while I focus mostly on getting finally to rest.

On Sunday I wait at the airport. I still have some yuans left and decide to spend them on Internet instead of finding exchange office. I open the mail and find message from Ping:

Hello Bartlomiej

Do you remember me?This is Ping.We met at a park of beijing.And we went the tea house together.

I must say sorry to you.Because i cheated you. I knew the tea house.Taking you to have tea is my job.

I know you must be very ungry when you hear it.You can hate me.It is my fault.I need money.I think that money for you is not much.If oneday i go out of China.I would like to return your money if we meet one day.

(…)

Some more personal petition follows, then: she wants to make friends nevertheless.

After the Internet I was planning to buy a book for a long flight, but the email somehow made up for any fiction I could find. “Blade within blade within blade!” For a moment I had the feeling as if I lived in Ludlum’s world, populated with secret agents and saturated with deception. I recalled the details of the event, which suddenly all seemed to fit well together. There was this dumb feeling.

All the information was in place, but the invisible assumption that the people cannot lie on this personal level, assumption which works in Poland but not in China, made it impossible to see through the plot.

I just couldn’t figure if the email is an exception or still inside the scheme. (Your opinion is always welcome below)

Then again, Ping was right that money was not much for the lesson learned. This was tea ceremony and couple dozen bucks maybe. Well maybe more if you add that art students were probably were also scam (but not really, I knew what I paid for, even if I overpaid for the particular object and they lied the whole story). But imagine you are to do business in China for millions. What number of nasty tactics you may be about to face?

I wondered if anyone else had similar experience, and it was easy to check that I was hardly alone, e.g. here or here or here (similar to the level of detail!).

Amusing that this scam looks like the most valuable and real-world experience of China so far.