- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1129 Hour
- Reading permission
3) Making a purchase|
There is most certainly a "foreigner price" in China. When I tell my Chinese friends how much I pay for certain things, they typically respond, "You paid too much." Previously I didn't believe them—after all, I'd use my upper intermediate Mandarin to negotiate a reasonable price—but when I needed a new pair of boxing gloves a few months ago, the cheapest I found was 100 RMB. My Chinese friend swore he could get them for less, so he came with me one day to make the purchase. Lo-and-behold, he was right. Without batting an eye, he bargained them down to 80 RMB; a 20% discount. A penny saved is a penny earned and I began thinking of all the money I could have saved just by receiving the "Chinese price" on miscellaneous items. If only my Chinese friends would help me buy everything, I could save literally hundreds (of RMB)!
But while such a method will help you save money, is it really worth it? Do I really need Chinese friends to help me purchase street food or socks just because I want to save a bit? If our roles were reversed, I can only imagine how annoying it would be to constantly be receiving phone calls asking for my bartering assistance…So the next time I found myself needing to buy some traditional souvenirs from Chengdu's Tibetan Quarter, while I thought about asking my friend to help, in the end I decided to spare him the trouble and do it myself. Of course, when I later told him how much I paid (even after bargaining ferociously), he replied, "You paid too much."
Final Judgment: Once or twice on expensive items or items you know nothing about is okay, but in general it's best to save your friend the trouble.
4) Finding a spouse
Another common question one gets asked in China is: "Are you married?" And if you answer "no", it's not uncommon for your friend to mention that they happen to know someone who is not married…and offer to set the two of you up. If you're looking to start a relationship with a local, accepting this Chinese blind date offer could be a great opportunity. You never know who you're going to meet or what can blossom from it. It may also be a nice way to meet a significant other outside of the more common drinking, clubbing or online dating scenes. And if you do meet that person and the attraction just isn't there, you could always end up with a pleasant friendship instead. Many foreigners come to China in the first place to meet locals and learn more about their culture, so why not, right?
In the few instances that it's happened to me, I've always chosen to "respectfully decline", although such refusals do always cut it. While living in rural Henan Province this past summer, it seemed that all of the shop owners I frequented were trying to introduce me to someone they knew. After getting to know my daily schedule, one of the owners went as far as having a single girl wait in his shop all day long to meet me—When I finally arrived, it was an extremely awkward moment to say the least… But apart from such awkwardness, if you do decide to accept a friend's offer and the date or ensuing relationship doesn't go well, you'll most likely cause your friend to lose face and possibly damage your friendship.
Final Judgment: This one is 50/50 and completely up to you. Good luck!
5) Planning a trip
Like many China expats, one of my greatest passions is traveling, and I especially enjoy it when someone offers to take me somewhere that only the locals know about (and that's not mentioned in the Lonely Planet series). Aside from the obvious "off the beaten path" value, your Chinese friend may also be able to tell you about the history and culture of the sites you visit. Furthermore, they can help you avoid the ever-present tourist scams, get discounts on special attractions, and help you arrange transportation at chaotic bus and train terminals. They can even arrange homestays or, in my case, sleeping in a traditional Tibetan yurt with a family in western Sichuan! Having the right local friends can undoubtedly lead to some unforgettable travel experiences.
On the other hand, there's the cautionary tale of my American friend, who shares my passion for adventure travel, and decided to let his Chinese girlfriend plan a trip to Nanjing together. After returning from the trip, he told me that he was bored out of his mind the whole time and that the entire trip was spent inside a tour bus or following a guide with a hundred other Chinese tourists. They would stop at remodeled "ancient" temples, take photos, buy souvenirs, eat at overpriced restaurants then return to the hotel immediately. It's important to note that the concept of "traveling" greatly differs between China and much of the West.
Final Judgment: Discovering a local, non-touristy place in China is about as good as it gets, but be sure to state your travel objectives and personal preferences beforehand to avoid annoyances on the road.