Expats to Street Food Vendors: “The Jig Is Up”
Foreigners outside metro stops citywide have been seen walking off in a huff, outraged by what seems to be an outbreak of race-related overcharging.
“This is ludicrous,” muttered Daniel McKay of Portland, Oregon, rummaging through his wallet for another one-yuan note. “I don’t have time for this.”
“Dwoh-shaow chee-yen?” McKay asked again, then leaned in and asked louder, forcing the baozi vendor to resort to hand gestures when he seemed unable to understand the amount specified in Chinese.
“Tai gui le,” was all he could muster up as he turned away, waving his hands and adding a “No fuckin’ way.”
“They’ve had a good run, but we’re on to them,” said McKay, found later at a different baozi vendor. “I once paid three kuai for one of these little bread things, only to see some Chinese dude come up behind me and pay two. After a while you’ve gotta put your foot down. It’s like, how much am I willing to pay for something I can’t even pronounce?”
This irritation is increasingly apparent on the once-popular snack streets, where exasperated foreigners can be seen practically breaking into a sprint, yelling “Aww hell no” and making references to the recession. One particular sweet potato cart has seen a 42% increase of “You gotta be kidding me” in the past month alone, as well as an estimated 17% of customers comparing the experience to “highway robbery.” The mental health of such vendors is even being called into question, as onlookers proclaim, “If he thinks I’ll pay that much, he must have lost his mind.”
“I can have a cocktail on the Bund for that price,” exclaimed one expat to a cluster of confused looking jianbing merchants.
“It’s total bullshit,” remarked Jake Stevenson, working in Shanghai as an English teacher. He admitted to being a frequent patron of the street food vendors outside any number of expat bars around 3 A.M. “These only cost one kuai each over where I work in Pudong.”
Stevenson then proceeded to buy out the chuan stand’s remaining supply of lamb for the night. “Yeah, I didn’t have change for a fifty, so, whatever. And anyway that’s, like, what—thirty cents American?” Stevenson laughed, throwing a half-eaten kebab at a stray dog.
Some expats have stated that the “questionable pricing” of certain items at fabric markets leads them to wonder whether they are “really even brand name.” When asked their opinion on the recent outbreak of scams, travelers visiting the Beijing Silk Market were baffled. “This girl just sold us 12 scarves!” beamed Sue Hobaker of Jacksonville, Florida. “She gave us a ‘friend price,’ so we had to jump on it! We can’t say exactly how much we paid—she asked us not to tell. But let’s just say we would have been crazy to turn her down.”
Hobaker’s husband, being taken to a traditional Chinese tea ceremony by some newly-found friends, was unavailable for comment.