Sunday, June 18, 2017

Beijing Day 4

This was the worst day, full of angst. We were brought to Dizhen Silk Products Co. Before we got off the bus, Apple told us her expectations - each family ought to purchase something. Well, I don't know about the rest, but I sure was not going to buy anything here.

We were greeted by a staff at the silk outlet who explained to us how silk was spun from silkworms. After that we were all ushered into a room, where we were shown silk bedspreads. The prices were atrocious. RMB12,000 for a set of the latest design.

I was utterly dumbfounded. I wouldn't buy a set of bedspread for RMB12,000. That's about RM8,000. That's a lot of money. I wasn't growing money on trees back in Malaysia. Mine was hard-earned money. Why should I spend RM8,000 on a bedspread. And it's not even branded. I mean, I wouldn't mind spending a few thousand on a Louis Vuitton. Because, it is RECOGNISED worldwide for its quality. The bedspread? Hmn .... how can I be SURE that it's worth that much of money .... I've never heard of Dizhen Silk Products Co. before that day.

No one in our 40-person group showed any interest to buy. Tension was building as we lingered around the room. We sat down and waited, scolded among ourselves, and also brainstormed all sorts of reasons or excuses to give them should they forced us to buy. My friends and I thought we would just tell them that we lived in traditional longhouses in Sarawak and we slept on mats on the ground. No beds. No need of beddings ....  Heh.

But ultimately, we weren't able to leave this place without buying. We were then offered 4 sets of bedspreads for RMB12,000 and after a long, long while, the staff managed to persuade 4 families in the group to buy. Albeit reluctantly. Even that wasn't enough, when I was approached, I flatly told the lady that I will not buy. My friend W, enquired about an older version of the bedspread .... and eventually was persuaded to buy it for RMB1500. All in all, there were at least a 2 more families who spent, but reluctantly.

Some of us sneaked out of the room and sat along the corridor. We were getting restless. It had been hours since we had arrived. The mood wasn't good. Taiwanese-Australian Auntie got mad at this stage and expressed her desire to leave the tour group. Taiwanese-Australian Auntie's son asked his mother to refer to their travel agent in Australia as to why they weren't informed that this was a shopping tour. Apple responded haughtily! Pay USD150 per person and you may leave immediately, she said. And that LOOK on her face .... tsk tsk tsk ... she's more SHREWD than she let herself out to be. Apple also told everyone of us off, saying we were getting in the way of the other customers visiting the silk outlet by hanging out at the corridor. Heh. Like we cared. We continued sitting there along the corridor ...

Well, just like Taiwanese-Australian Auntie, we were also never informed that this was a shopping tour. I mean, we knew that there would be shopping stops when we signed up for the tour - but we had never expected it to be this bad. I'd been to China a few times, and I had never felt obliged to buy when I did not want to. My friend W shared with us that during his trip to Chengdu, the staff of a particular silk outlet had even locked them in a room to prevent them from going out. At least we weren't locked in this time.

Anyway, back home in Kuching, we'd lodged a compaint about this incident with our local agency. Mind you, if you are reading this, be wary of this travel agency - Beijing Relaxing Holiday 北京轻松国际旅行社有限公司 and also the tour guide, Apple, 黄金萍

When we left this place, it was already time for lunch. We'd been held up for 3 hours. Sickening.

Egg-drop soup, cabbage, chives, egg, beancurd and chives, potato and pork stirfry, chilli and pork stirfry, braised chicken, spicy braised fish

After the incident that morning, I was hardly in the mood to eat. None of the dishes tasted good to me.

We spent a bit of time at the Summer Palace 頤和園. It was past noon, and very hot. The place was massive and there wasn't time to explore.

The dragon boat on the man-made lake, known as Kunming Lake

 Longevity Hill in the distance
The map shows plenty of gardens and pavillions beyond the buildings across the lake; I'm not sure whether it's open to public ... 

 The bridge across the lake 

We walked a bit and sat down to eat an ice-cream .. the green tea ice-cream tasted weird.

After Summer Palace, it was MORE shopping. 

See this guy? He's a con artist. And he duped many of us that afternoon.

I read this from Tripadvisor and it described what we had gone through through exactly. Just click on the link to read it. 

We did not go to Derun Jewelry, but we went to Pu Yu Hun Jin. This is the Facebook page, and there's a similar story there. 

Upon reaching Pu Yu Hun Jin, we were ushered into a room and served tea. A sales lady came and entertained us by telling us more about pearls and jade. Apparently, she was a mere sales person, and we were actually waiting for another staff who had more expertise in precious stones to come talk to us.

Then all of the sudden, she was interrupted by another sales lady who came in and announced that the 店长 or the manager would come talk to us. The sales lady feigned surprise. "店长?" she stammered.

The店长 or manager came in. He was the young man in the photo above. The sales lady bowed subserviently and he signalled for all sales persons to go out of the room. Then, he started to talk to us about jade. From his presentation, we could tell he was inexperienced. Taiwanese-Australian Auntie even asked if he was a Fuerdai  富二代, i,e, the offspring of the new rich. He said that the jade business was owned by his dad and it was his elder brother who was running the jade outlet here in Beijing. He said he was getting married at the end of the year, and his family thought that it was about time for him to help out with the business now that he was going to settle down. 

He told us that his name was Sun Hao Cheng 孙浩程. Taiwanese-Australian Auntie thought he had a good name. He said that he had put in a lot of effort in his presentation that day, and he asked us to just listen to him. He had been snubbed by a group of tourists from Hong Kong before, and ended up arguing with them. This incident reached his brother and he was taught a lesson. All he asked from us, was to listen to him. We were not obliged to buy anything. He just wanted the staff outside to think that he was doing a good job with us. So he kept us in the room for longer than usual - hoping that the staff outside would be impressed with him. We laughed. By now, we had believed in his story, and we found him to be very cute in his antics.

At one point, he straightened his Versace t-shirt, and I glimpsed his Hermes belt. He HAD to be who he said he was ... the younger son of a rich businesman in Beijing. Or was he? 

Sun Hao Cheng finished telling us about jade. And then he told us more about the outlet here in Beijing - how big it was and the types of customers who patronised there... and I distinctly remembered him telling us that tour groups did not normally went upstairs. So when we finished the session, he brought us quickly round the outlet and then HE BROUGHT US UPSTAIRS.

Once upstairs, he spoke about the jade Buddha in the photo above .... and showed us some 14K gold pendants, some very expensive jade bangles, and THEN he started his selling. He brought us to a section and showed us some zodiac jade pendants. He told us how those pendants were made, and then recommended them as something we could keep as the jade was of quality and that they came with a certificate. The price RMB7800. But for us, he would sell them at RMB1000. We gasped. So much of discount! I caught sight of a very young sales girl, whose jaw dropped. Sun Hao Cheng saw her expression too. And he reprimanded her. She looked away, embarrassed.

And so lots of people bought the pendants, including me. I also bought 2 bracelets at RMB100 each. I believe I was conned. I believed that the pendants and the two bracelets that I had bought we probably less than RM20. And to think that I forked out RM800 for them ..... Tsk tsk tsk .... I wished I had done my homework before going to Beijing. An expensive lesson learnt. 

Later on, my friend CV told me that he had gone to the toilet while everyone was busy shopping. Sun Hao Cheng happened to be there in the toilet too, and he was smoking. CV said that his countenance while he was smoking was a stark contrast to how he had presented himself to us. CV said that he did not look as stupid as he made himself out to be .... 

Egg drop soup, cabbage, broccoli, egg and black fungus, chicken dices, pork ball, pork belly,
braise preserved mustard and pork (I liked!) and steamed fish fillet

Outside the restaurant ... 

 Olympic Park Observation Tower
The five circular tops of the towers resemble the Olympic rings

We drove further and we could see ... 

 Water Cube and Bird's Nest Stadium, lighted
This was as near as it got; we lodged a complaint about this attraction as well with our local travel agency when we got back to Kuching; by right, we were supposed to be brought to the stadium itself where we could appreciate the aesthetics and design of the building from upclose .... but no, Apple decided that it was good enough to let us see from afar ...

When we got back into the bus, Apple dispensed some instructions in English. I cringed. It was bad. She sucked at English. She spoke too fast and swallowed her words too much that it was difficult to comprehend her. Well, I wouldn't have judged her if she hadn't said that she was good in English. But she did just that, announcing proudly to us that she could speak well in English too. That raised a certain level of expectations. Another example of her self-centredness. I mean, I'd listened to other Chinese tour guides speaking English at various sites these past few days - and they were at least clear in their speech.

The best thing that day was McDonald's. We went inside the restaurant and asked for an English menu, which they did not have. Instead, they had a digital kiosk with its menu in English .... so cool! One could actually order their food digitally and then pay via the mobile. Since we could not use our smartphones to pay, we merely referred to the menu in the digital kiosk and did our orders and payments at the counter.

I was disappointed to find that there was no pork burger ..... so I settled for a burger which was not available in Malaysia ....

 Regular Coke 

The fries for our burgers & ketchup

Chipotle BBQ Style Chicken Burger, RMB28 per meal
Lovely bun was covered in seeds ...

Take a peek inside ...  
There was a battered and deep-fried chicken fillet - the chicken tasted dry and very hard; layered with bacon, a slice of tomato and chopped lettuce and then smothered with a tangy chipotle sauce; overall it did not taste that special ..... 

We returned all the ketchup and asked for this garlic chilli sauce .... originally meant to go with McNuggets but we ate the sauce with our fries 

We sat there and enjoyed our supper while gossiping about the day's happenings at the silk and the jade outlets. What unscrupulous ways to do business. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

So who's Sun Hao Cheng? Was he really the boss' son? Or was he just a staff? Or was he an actor? Was his Versace shirt and Hermes belt real? Or were they just counterfeits? Hmn ... what sort of a tour guide was Apple that she allowed her guests to be coerced and duped into buying? Wasn't there such thing as consumerism in China? Where were the regulations? How can the GOVERNMENT not act upon con artists like these? 


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  2. In Hunan, at a building selling traditional medicine, I was coerced into buying a RMB5000 pills claimed to hav ebeen made of extreme rare herbs in Tibet. They wanted me to buy more, but I said I had no money. Then, to day this I am still confused, a man made me take out all my credit cards and I let him swipe them one by one. Why did I let him do that I have no idea. I was completely .... in a dream-like state but luckily none of my cards was effective for transactions.

  3. They are unscrupulous ... my friends and I were talking too, and we wondered whether it would be wise to travel to China with limited RMB and without our credit cards in the future .... that way, we could insist that we didn't have money or cards when they coerced us to buy their stuff ...



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