Back in the ol' days in China
, it was considered perfectly normal to blatantly commit daylight robbery
on helpess foreigners
. 10 apples for a dollar? Foreigners
get 1 for 10. At every single tourist
destination there are two prices, one for regular Chinese
visitors, one for foreigners
, at anything from 5 to 500 times the regular cost.
That wasn't all. Foreigners had to use a special currency in China, called the "FEC" (foreign exchange currency, I assume). It was technically worth the same as reminbi, the regular money, but a few quirks stopped that. When you buy anything at all with this FEC and wanted change, the clerks would look at you with a blank stare and say that they have no FEC money left, and refuse to give you change. Buy a $3 coke with a $100 bill? Expect nothing in return. Sometimes when you do manage to ram your arm down their throats and get some RMB back, you're not allowed to use it. You have to go through a massive bureacratic mess to change it back to RMB, involving questions of "Where did you get that barred currency?" Frankly, it wasn't worth it.
People would rip you off on the street. Taxi drivers go loops around the city before dropping you off. Bus drivers cover up the fares then ask for double the price. People make up prices on the spot, no matter what the original listed prices were. It gets annoying after a while, the constant minsinformation and lying, but that's socialism for you. There are so few opportunities to make money everyone wants a slice of foreign pie.
Once, I heard a storekeeper saying in Shanghainese (the fool thought I only spoke English, because I look like a foreigner) that it was their "patriotic duty to rip off foreigners" Basically, she was charging me $50 for a bag of apples that should cost around $7 or $8. A very nice excuse for daylight robbery indeed, when people can blow off blatant dishonesty as a "patriotic duty".
Yet another travel horror story. Beware, tourists are indeed very easy pickings.
Ahh, my dear iain, hence is a point of the writeup! These poor people have languished under Marxism, Maoism or plain old socialism for eons, they're dying to get out of their predicament! The people of China are embracing capitalism, no doubt a good thing, but being on the receiving end of trickery is no fun. Contrary to what some socialists might think, lies and misinformation is not a trait of capitalism.
A consequence of socialism is poverty and inequality. People should have realized that by reading history books. And by the way, being a tourist doesn't mean getting ripped off. No, there are many ways to escape that kind of stuff.