Im starting my second year here as a teaching in Guanzghou. First off I am Pakistani by ethnicity and am born and bred in the USA so I really look foreign. I can speak a brief amount of very practical Mandarin and I live in a very Chinese neighborhood/area that has few to no foreigners and everything here is not catered to English speakers what so ever. I am writing all of this because I think you guys have had bad luck. I've met a ton of foreigners who come here and have a fun and safe time. In fact I feel safer here than I do back home in Los Angeles, California or even when I was going to uni in San Francisco. Point being my experience here has been safe and fun as well as the other foreigners i Know.
threathening one day trip shopping stops
The tour guide will take you to shopping stops, beware of the jewelry shops, looked like a scam to me. The same trick: always the boss will come to entertain guess, give a ridiculos price discount, a few thousand price tag jade/jewelry offered at Rm100-200 as a friendship gesture.
Beware of Kanghui Travel agency, we signed up a day tour Gaungzhou city tour with them , paid over Rmb200 per person, the tour bus was was really old and no air-conditioner, we almost suffocate throughout the journey. The jewelry shop male attendants looked like gansters, very fierce and threatening when we refused to buy anything.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Fake Liquor and other Scams by Liquor Stores
Cheater liquor stores abound. They would sell you liquor but many turn out fake. Real bottles but fake contents. Clerks even pulled a trick on me by showing me a bottle of maotai that broke when i lifted it up. Obviously the bottle was defective from the beginning but the clerk demanded that i pay for the liquor which she pegged at RMB 10,000. Outrageous!!!! So be careful about different liquor scams such as these....better buy your liquor at big supermarkets to be safe
Hotels crazy prices increase during Apr-May
Be warned to those coming to Guangzhou on April 15 till May 5 each year, the reason is the yearly trading fair & meeting in the city of Guangzhou during these time of year. It is believe (according to what local peoples told me) with an estimate 10000+ of representatives and traders coming from all directions to gather at Guangzhou and therefore hotel prices gone up by 200 – 300% during these period. Budget hotels too grab this golden opportunity to increase their price.
Also be warned that the temperature of May is crazy hot at an average of 30+ celsius, you will be sweat like rain only after 30 minutes of walk on the street, the wind too is hot like hair dryer. The best way of waering is sleeveless singlet and short pants with a pair of sporty shoes, with or without underwear is up to you.
Even taking a city bus or a Metro is a big torture during this period because you will have to fight for a place at anytime.
Photos uploaded are the low budget hotel (deep inside a residential district, far away from city center) that I stayed during May, the price increased up to 168 Yuan for a single room, normal price is 80 Yuan.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
NO INFORMATION PLEASE!
When I visited Guangzhou, I use travel agent to have sight seeing in Guangzhou. My Guide is very nice person. But when someone ask him about direction or things he explained (e.g. in museum) he never replied anything and keep silent. Then at the end of the tour, I ask him that is it common in Guangzhou that people will not reply anything when someone in need of help for direction or something else? He said, yes...it is common. Then I think to myself that, never expect help from someone when you are lost or in danger. Very mean country! So well prepare yourself before visiting Guangzhou or even China.
Guangzhou people have no qualms about cheating
this is a bad choice for a holiday destination, especially if you look obviously like a foreigner.
i'm already chinese by race, i look chinese, i speak chinese and cantonese, but i'm Singaporean, not born or bred in China and on the first day i too got scammed by the first Guangzhou person i interacted with, the taxi-driver, told me my $100rmb was torn and i stupidly changed it for him and later found out he switched my good note for a torn counterfeit. on the second day, a shopkeeper tried to do the same to me, told me the note was torn and she wanted another, and i told her not to try it in the most menacing tone i could muster and she backed off. by the third day i was breaking 100rmb notes at every "decent" supermarket or chain restaurant, yelling rudely at shopkeepers, glaring at everyone, staring feverishly at the notes i give to pay, and only then was i kept "safe" from their scams. (probably because then they thought i was one of them because that is how they behave)
it's a terrible place for a tourist from a safe/civilised hometown. in guangzhou there is mistrust in the air, everyone is paranoid about the money and everyone is hostile and rude. they are just as terrible to their own fellow man. i've seen a shopkeeper in a full out catfight with a fellow PRC customer yelling the house down and the shopkeeper telling the customer if she doesn't have money she should go and be a prostitute. don't expect any service standards or social grace of any kind. it doesn't exist in their culture.
the worst thing about guangzhou is what i found out as i was leaving the city to the airport in a cab (and terribly relieved to be doing so). for some reason i decided to start conversing with the cab driver because i was so curious to know how the *** these hostile crooks think. so i told him in my culture people do not cheat other people. and that cheats were despised by my society. and that i find the counterfeit problem is china very annoying and detrimental to the tourism industry. he told me that in china, people are desperate to make more money. they would cheat to speed up the process of making money and have no qualms about it. cheating is a very normal way of earning money in guangzhou. also they will not help if they see an injured person on the street. because they do not want to implicate themselves in unnecessary trouble. this is how guangzhou people are. they have no morals. lying, cheating is ok, and it's everyman for himself.
so, i have since concluded: guangzhou has serious societal issues. widespread moral defect and in self-perpetuating downward spiral. some bad people unloaded a whole chunk of counterfeit notes on the city and now its scammed people are desperate to rid themselves of it, and kind, unsuspecting foreigners are a simple easy way out of the problem to them. or maybe they are conspirators. whatever the reason, just trust me, do not trust guangzhou people when it comes to money (and maybe everything else). men, women, young or old, watch them when you hand them money.
and seriously, do reconsider guangzhou as a holiday destination. true, with the right bargaining tactics (like speaking rudely, insisting on 20% if the price the shopkeeper offered, walking away disinterestedly etc bluffery) shopping can be incredibly cheap. but you know, having been through it, i don't think its worth the stress of having to constantly be on your toes and checking and doublechecking the most basic things like money, cab drivers, shopkeepers. and plus i don't like giving my hard-earned money to a city of people who have no qualms about cheating me of more.
- Family Travel
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- Business Travel
Taxi driver in Guangzhou (Daylight Robbery)
You heard about the 100 RMB bill switching that takes place. How about getting over-charged more than 5 times the normal price ?
This took place on July 30, 2009. I left HKG and arrived at Guangzhou railway station. Immediately upon our arrival after crossing the gate at customs, a man presented himself as a taxi service. As it was pouring outside, I seized the opportunity and found it convenient.
On the way to his vehicle, he insisted to carry my luggage which I certainly found normal.
I made the biggest mistake of my life by first accepting this ride in a van (not a green taxi) despite I was warned to use only taxi with meters. When I got to this so-called taxi (van), another guy asked me to pay immediately which I did not find odd at that time as sometimes you can be in a situation where you pay for your travel expenses beforehand.
He asked for me RMB 280 ( a regular taxi would cost 50 RMB for the same trip) and asked me for another RMB 100 if I want to take the highway option. I refused and I took the RMB 280. Once I was inside the van, I made sure that I could opened the window (just in case) and I pretended calling someone on my mobile.
I arrived at the hotel safe and sound. I even gave 20 RMB as tips to the driver as he asked me for "tips"...This is one of the only english word he knew.
So lesson learned: Never never never get into this type of taxi service at the first exit of the railway station and instead go take a taxi at the official line up location...
(Yes I admitted that I was stupid (big time)and naive in my decision).
And by the way, do not count on the authority to crack down on such ops... there is no such thing in this part of China
If you can avoid Guangzhou, please do so as this city has (unless you are attending the Canton Fair) is full of Scammers, fake bills, fake goods, beggars and of course people like my filthy scum piece of garbage taxi driver
NB My wife and my daughter were travelling with me.
- Budget Travel
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Drugging in outdoor shopping market
When I was in Guangzhou for the first time on business I was touring around an outdoor shopping market near the Holiday Inn. I was being careful and carrying my backpack on my front but I guess I wasn't careful enough. I felt a prick on my arm and ignored it at first thinking it was an insect but then a few minutes later I started feeling very light headed and almost drunk. I am very sure I was drugged so that I could be a better target to be robbed. Luckily I did have a travel companion who assisted me back to my hotel. I am a very independent female traveler and business women and have never felt as afraid for my life as I did in Guangzhou. This city is extremely crowded, polluted and the people for the most part dishonest and looking to rip you off. Be very careful when visiting this city and do NOT go alone!
If you are like myself, a Mandarin speaker, you might find it a bit difficult to move around in Guangzhou since Cantonese is much more widely spoken here. I have encountered a few occasion that we could not talk to each other due to the language issue.
Well, this is not really a big deal, but it is just annoying sometimes.
Fake money- in circulation everwhere...(ATMs)
I've heard about getting fake money from big bank's ATM and didn't believe it until a close friend of mine got his from one of the local bank's ATM. He drew RMB$2000 from a local bank's ATM in Tian He district (actually doesn't matter the location bcos it may happen anywhere) and later found one of the $100 note to be a fake note. Disgust, anger follows but nothing can be helped. Once you leave the ATM, there's no proof of you obtaining the fake note from that bank's ATM and to ask for a "refund" back.
Heard recently that another japanese friend got two $100 fake notes from a ATM machine near Concordia, Tien He district! Sigh....cannot even trust ATM now.....
An uncle, a local cantonese, advised me to use the ATM, that also functions as a cash deposit machine to withdraw money in the future. According to his son, who works in bank, such ATMs double checks the authenticity of the money before issuing out the money, unlike other ATMs that are only for withdrawal. I'm not sure how true this is but I will seek his advice. Better be safe than sorry. Sigh......
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Fake money - in circulation everywhere....(taxi)
You might have heard about how extensive fake money is circulating in China. Yes, I must agree to that and that's why I'm writing to remind VT friends to be especially careful when they visit China.
I got my first RMB100 fake note from a taxi driver. He claimed that my RMB$100 note has a torn at one corner of the note and he cannot accept it and asked me for another $100 note. Without giving much thought, I gave him another $100 note while I accepted "back" the torn $100 RMB from him. Later when I try to use the $100 note in the supermarket then I was informed it was a fake note. This is the swopping method often practised by taxi drivers.
My friend got her first $50 RMB from taxi driver using the same swopping method too.
The fake notes circulating in the market now are quite professionally made. They have all the waterink marks, the coase surface at the collarshirt of the picture in the note etc. It's hard to differentiate unless you alreadly know it's a fake and purposely examine the note.
So I would recommend to all VT friends, try to remember the last 4 digits of your notes when you pay the taxi driver the taxi fare. If he claim that your money cannot be accepted, make sure it's really your own money he's talking about. Refuse flatly to give him another note if you sense any thing suspicious, or tell him that's the only note you have etc.
You can make police report if you received fake notes from others but I've spoken to a policeman, small cases( involving only small amount) are difficult to settle/ to crack.
Many banks have posters describing how to differentiate fake money. It's good to learn more but often, it's very difficult to differentiate especially for someone who don't deal with counting money alot or someone who have not seen fake money before.
- Road Trip
Scandalous cab drivers
If you're a foreigner and don't speak the language well, make sure you go in a group if you ever take a cab from the Guangzhou airport (or anywhere in Guangzhou for that matter). A lot of these guys are out to take advantage of foreigners whenever they can. So try to stay in a group of 3 if you can. They usually don't dare to try anything when you're in a bigger group. I've even heard of horror stories of people getting kidnapped and had their organs taken (Yes, organs as in kidneys, heart, etc). This is extremely rare but its always better to be safe than sorry.
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End of year, up in crime rates
With the year coming to an end and Chinese New Year approaching, there may be an increase in crime rates in GZ, as like many other countries.
A close friend of mine had her handphone snatched while she was using her handphone in a taxi at Ti Yu Dong Lu. The man apparently opened the taxi door and tried to snatch her handphone but she was fast to pull the handphone back with her both hands. The man then fled away. This was not the only time such cases happened even in the city of GZ. My husband witnessed a motorbike snatch of handphone from a lady using her handphone along the street at Ti Yu Dong Lu and my husband's colleague had his laptop snatched by a motorist in Bai Yun area too. (Yes, even though motorbikes been banned in GZ)
So it is always good to be cautious and have awareness of the surrounding we are at.
1) Lock the taxi doors when we take a cab.
2) Try not to use handphones along the streets as we become easy preys since we most likely be preoccupied in our tel conversations. If we have to answer the call or make an urgent call, find a nearby place like, standing with a wall behind you, so that people cannot snatch from your back.
3) Motobikes been banned in GZ. So, if you can still hear the sound of motobikes near you, be alert! Of course, it may be those motorbikes for the handicapped, which are still permitted in GZ. But it's better to be more careful.
- Road Trip
Choose Yellow Taxi Whenever Possible
Your best bet of having a hassle free ride in Guangzhou is to choose a yellow cab. I had taken many rides on yellow cabs and did not encounter any unpleasant incidents such as dishonest acts or rude attitude. I believe the reason is that the yellow cab company operator do not take in out-of-state drivers. They must be Guangzhou natives before they can be selected to rent and operate the taxi from the company. Any complaints by customers would be channelled to the company for investigation. It could mean dismissal from driving.
The case of other taxis are quite different. These cabs are usually driven by non-Guangzhou natives who are direct owners of the cabs. Because they have paid a hefty sum for their cabs, they tend to be overly aggressive in fighting for business and sometimes resorting to underhanded tactics to gain more.
- Business Travel
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Beware of Guangzhou taxi scam
I hailed a taxi from Landmark Hotel Canton going to Baiyun Airport. On reaching the airport, the driver claimed the fare was RMB120. I paid using a RMB100 note and a RMB20 note. Just as quickly, the driver handed me back a RMB100 note and told me that he cannot accept the note as it was snipped in the corner. I distinctly noted that I had given him an older note but the one he returned to me was fairly new. As I was in a hurry to check-in, I reluctantly gave him another RMB100 in exchange. My concern that the RMB100 note was a fake one was proven when I showed the note to a cashier in the cafe terminal. She remarked that it was a remarkable counterfeit piece. So anyone who is taking a cab in Guangzhou and possibly any other cities in China, do be very careful of this scam. I made a mistake of not sitting in the front passenger seat beside the driver. This gave him ample time to fish out a fake note to exchange for a genuine piece.
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