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.
In a lot of my pictures you can see the sky was grey or even white most of the time I was in Guangzhou. This was more of a haze than clouds, so when the sky opened up and dropped buckets on my head I was quite surprised. When it rains, IT RAINS - I mean torrential!
Even if you have an umbrella or raincoat, you can't walk down the street because it is so heavy. The pavement becomes about 5cm deep in water. Everyone stops what they are doing and heads for shelter until it stops, which usually isn't too long.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, have a look at the picture. No, this is not a stream or drainage system, these are the steps to some flats!
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......
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.
The most precious commodity is to have a roll of toilet paper with you wherever you travel in China.
It is appalling that in the finer restaurants and yes, even the hospitals, toilet papers are not provided.
Don't get caught in an embarrassing situation inside a bathroom with nothing but stacks of $100 rmb bills to
address the situation, be forewarned!
I used the ATM's often because it was safer than carrying around a lot of cash on me but, one day while sitting in Starbucks, across the street was an ATM. I observed people making transactions on these machines and not taking their reciepts, then someone would come along, grab the reciept and put it in their pocket! Just be safe and cover up the keypad when typing in your PIN and always take your reciepts with you.
If you come to GZ from HK by the express train, which mean you arrive at the east railway station. Make sure you have prepared RMB(mainland local money) befor hand. There is NO foreign exchange counter at the station, NOT like that at the airport.
Before starting, make sure that he uses the meter. Don't accept if they propose you a price before hand. A taxi trip to Ramada Hotel, for instance has a normal price of 40 RMB. I have been asked by such a driver 150 RMB. Therefore I got off, went 50 meters towards right, and took another cab from the domestic terminal, paying the correct price this time.
Make sure you stay with your group, if alone try to hook up with a buddy or make it look like your with another group of people. Thieves are everywhere and blend in with the local people, they know already you are tourist no matter how well you blend in, they can tell from your clothing, posture, speech, and the way you carry yourself, etc.
The pick pocket thieves work in pairs, groups, etc and will try to separate you from your group by cutting in and creating distance between you and your group. They will follow you for a long ways, another clue that they are a thief watching you. They will stop when you stop, but they will be a few stalls away pretending to browse. They will follow you into stores and come up very close pretending they are shopping for the same items as you. This is especially so on those busy market streets.
Others will come up to you and try to whisper in your ear whatever they are selling, maybe even touch you by the arm to pull you the direction they want you to go. I found this a problem in the City of Guangzhou, even though there is lots of public security officers around, but this was not the case local villages. Don't keep your cash all in one spot, carry your backpack in the front if you have to take one, don't bother to count your money from the atm, just stuff it in your pocket quickly and leave immediately.
Use ATM's that have security guards if possible and go when it is daylight. Be extra cautious on those packed buses. Read this website extensively before going over, you will learn lots. I was lucky that in 6 weeks I made it through without a problem, my brother had his backpack open on the crowded shuttlebus at the airport upon arrival. Recommend you put those small combo locks on your back packs and carry it in front. I found plenty of great advise here on this site for everything.
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.
There is dudes on the Metro and at the metro stations that try and sell you laptops. I have heard of people buying them and the laptop working good, but also i have bought one for fairly cheap and got raped as the laptop was a fake. Many of them are fake so be carefull, but still some are good.
This is very important to be careful. I personnely have this bad experience of fake currency note.
Some one gave me the fake currency of 100RMB which become very embarissing for me to cover up.......
Mainly the fake notes are more in 100RMB and 50RMB etc................
BE CAREFUL AND DO NOT RELY OR DEPEND ON ANY BODY IN ANY CASE..........
There is a lot of fake money here, if you ever pay with a 50 or 100 RMB bill then the chinese almost always check if it is real or not. But if the chiense do get stuck with the fake bills they will try and pond it off on you......soo be carefull and both times i got the fake money it was given to me by a taxi driver.
There are also many fake paper 1rmb bills but those noone checks, i always end up with them and no problem to give away.
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.
When we got out of the east train station we were hijaked by lots of people that asked us for taxi. We said yes, they took or bags and went for a car. These men were nicely dressed. Then before we left, i asked them for the price, and they said 350 RMB. I said no, and took my bygs with me. Then the bargaining started, and they asked us "what hotel?" i said wich, and he asked me for the number, i shoved it to him, and he pretended to type that into his phone. Problem for him was that i am tall. So i saw what was happening. He were only ***ting us.
Then he said 330 RMB, i said no. And walked away. After excactely 5 meters, some other guys came, and the process started over again. But now we got it down to 80 RMB, still way to much, since the papers we recived from the hotel said about 40 RMB. But then i just wanted to get to the hotel. We got in the car, wich now was a real taxi. But as soon as we got in, they looked the doors,and wanted the money then.
Of course i said now, and after an short argument he realised that he did not get anyway and started driving. We got to the hotel safe and sound, but it was not a good start on the stay in the city.
If this was like this because of the trade fair, or it is normal, i don't know anything about. But we took a lot of taxi the rest of the stay, and it was cheap and mostly good service from the rest. But beware at the train station.