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Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Indiana Jones and the Teahouse - Page 2

Written by Mike Shanks
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Next stop the Huaqing Hot Springs and a cup of tea in a teahouse.

Some time later the girl returned with the bill. She spoke in Chinese to my girlfriend. Her voice was soft and she had a very appealing waif-like demeanor. She handed me a small handwritten note with both hands, bowed and stood respectfully back. The note was littered with unintelligible symbols.

My girlfriend glanced at the note, looked at me, and then said a few clarifying, sing-song words to the girl. Her expression was dark.

‘What’s wrong?’ I enquired

‘We’ve been charged about €15 for the tea’

‘How much?’


We’d been had. Been got. 

For all our experience and savvy-ness we had fallen for the oldest trick in the book. Don’t turn on the meter in the cab then pluck a number from thin air at the end of the ride. Don’t mention the price before you pull away or consume, then inflate after the service has been performed. 

We had fallen for it and I scratched my Indiana Jones beard feeling more like a British accountant on holiday than I ever had during our adventure holiday. The girl stood by quietly smiling. She was smiling an ‘I got you smile’, that ‘You are so far away from home, try complaining, just try it white boy’ smile.

We looked at each other, the look was enough and we both knew it. That sinking feeling, that realisation we were not as worldly wise or tourist trap resistant as we had led ourselves to believe. 

I started to count out the notes onto the table. As I finished I handed them over with a glare to our sweet young thieving hostess. She bowed yet again, smiled and then spoke in a thick, heavily accented English. 

It wasn’t the jetlag and it isn’t my memory playing games with me. I am certain that as she spoke and for the briefest of moments I saw her eyes glow a deep dark red.

‘Each’ she said.


©Mike Shanks


(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Wednesday, 01 May 2013

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