Spicy Hotpot with a Spicy Hot Thot: Deception in Chongqing

I had just matched a cutie on Tantan, the Chinese version of Tinder.

I couldn’t quite 100% understand what she was messaging with my limited literacy of Chinese, but she was down for some spicy hotpot. I was alone in the city of Chongqing, a gorgeous city famous for its (extremely) spicy food.

150587514739725800_dlinsta
Chongqing, China

After debating on where to meet, I finally relented and agreed to meet her at Hongyadong, a popular tourist destination famous for its likeness to the town in Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”.

150587433321595330_dlinsta
Hongyadong

When I showed up, it wasn’t one, but two girls. A more chic, done-up girl and one that was attractive but dressed more innocent, like someone who was quite literally on their first date. Neither looked like the picture, but Chic told me that innocent was my date. I was really just in it for the hotpot and “cultural” experience, so I didn’t mind that she didn’t look like the picture or brought someone else.

“How do you not know what a yeshi (night market) is?” Innocent asked about a navigational confusion I had made earlier.

“It’s not a word that’s commonly used in America, so I didn’t hear it as much”

“Really? America doesn’t have night markets?”

“of course not, it’s a different country” responded Chic.

“woww America must be really different”

We spent a few more minutes of walking around Hongyadong.

“I’m hungry, I know a good restaurant nearby” Chic said

“Is it hotpot? I wanted to try hotpot.” I said

“I don’t know anywhere near here that has hotpot. It’s too far.”

A little disappointed, I agreed to follow them to said restaurant, after all, I’d had good experiences previously with friends bringing me to their favorite restaurants in Chengdu and Shanghai.

“Is it okay if I order? Let’s all get this” Chic said.

Not being the most literate, I didn’t glance and just agreed. Within minutes, a poorly put-together fruit platter came. Almost immediately later, a check for 888 RMB or $140.

I looked at the girls.

“Are you looking at us to split? Do you know manners?” Chic responded.

I thought about it for a second, afraid to be rude. After an awkward silence I responded.

“Yeah this is really expensive? I didn’t expect to spend this much.” I said.

Chic exploded. “ARE YOU A REAL MAN?! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH MY BOYFRIEND SPENT ON OUR FIRST DATE? 10,000 RMB ($1500)”

“I’m pretty sure your boyfriend is a crazy person.”

“IS THAT WHAT IT’S LIKE IN AMERICA? NO WONDER WE LIKE CHINESE MEN MORE, AMERICAN MEN ARE WORTHLESS”

“This isn’t even normal in America, you don’t ask for a 10,000 RMB dish and then expect someone to pay on a date where you bring your friend”

Innocent was silent during this entire exchange.

I was trying to rationalize how this could be, I’d heard of the gender imbalance causing women to be treated a lot more favorably in a dating environment as well as people paying for an entire night of drinks to be polite but this seemed so crazy.

“YOU’RE EMBARRASSING MY FRIEND. WE’LL EACH PAY FOR A THIRD AND YOU CAN GET OUT OF HERE” Crazy finally said.

I finally agreed to this and coughed up the $50 or so. Then I left.

After leaving I was still trying to piece together what had just happened. It seemed so crazy and so out of the blue but somewhere within the realm of possibility. Finally, after a few minutes I pieced together what happened. It was a moment of clarity; I was Bundledup Crumblebunch but like 90% more retarded.

200

I had just been scammed.

This was a modified version of the teahouse or bar scam. As I pondered it more, this was the logical conclusion.

  • They wouldn’t relent on the location, probably drawing me to the specific restaurant they insisted on.
  • The restaurant was down a series of staircases that was hard to see from Hongyadong, it’s almost impossible to find it if you don’t know exactly where it is and as a result it was quite isolated, a good place to run a scam.
  • On Tantan (Chinese Tinder) they refused to talk to me with voice despite difficulty communicating. This was probably a sophisticated operation much like my test scams where there was an agent who used hot pictures to find rubes to scam and then called up gunwomen to perform the scam.
  • Crazy was attractive, but definitely not enough to think that dropping $150 on the first date was a norm, especially when that was likely two week’s income here. There’s no way this was a norm, no one would be able to afford it.
  • Crazy was probably training Innocent to become part of the scam

I walked back to the restaurant. I had read on how not fearing negative social situations bred some of the most successful people in the world and this action seemed to have few downsides. What were they going to do?

I went up to the counter and said, frankly

“This is a scam. I want my money back”.

There were two men at the counter and three waitresses. One of the men went ballistic at the start.

“WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU TO COME INTO MY RESTAURANT AND ACCUSE ME OF THIS”

“How is it reasonable to charge 888 rmb for a fruit platter and wine?” I said. “I know this is a scam, just give me my money back.”

“MY CUSTOMERS PAY FOR THE EXCELLENT SERVICE. GET OUT OF HERE.”

“You don’t have to try to convince me, I know this is a scam, just give me my money back”.

The waitresses were silent.

“CALL THE COPS IF YOU THINK THIS IS A SCAM THEN.”

“We both know that neither of us is going to do that. Just give me money back”

This continued on for maybe 10 minutes, with me repeating “I know this is a scam, just give me my money back” until the other man finally just opened register and gave me 100 RMB. I thought about it for a second and looked at him.

“Ok.”

I left and went home. I reasoned they probably just gave up and didn’t want me to bother any other potential marks going to this restaurant.

Later my roommate (from Beijing) would tell me about how his buddy got scammed the same way for 4000 RMB. He said the girls took him to a street in Beijing and he even chose the bar. Apparently every bar on that street had a deal with the gunwomen.

I wish there was more to say about Chongqing and its amazing views sitting high above the river, but I think this was the most interesting thing that happened to me.

Moral of the story is to never pay for the first date.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s