The transport I got into was behind a red motor bike and it was a one seat and in bad condition…I thought the guy needed money so went with him. He also spoke English.. It was small like this one….just fit one and not good over bumps.
I have been told not to use the small transports that accost you at tourist places or outside the hotels.
Yesterday I did not listen and because the guy spoke English…they all do as I found when accosted again at The Forbidden City…I came close to losing my money and belongings. If the two men had not come by, I dread to think what may have happened. if he had touched me, he would have found my waist bag with all my valuables and my camera on my belt.
The driver took me through the huton, telling me he was going this way to avoid the traffic. The huton is a total maze inside and he stopped in what was almost a deadend saying that was as far as the bike would go…then when I got out, demanded money, when I said I did not have much, pulled out a card saying the fare was 300 yuan.
Here is my story which I have sent to China daily…
Transport Thief Beijing
My free day in Beijing was terribly marred by a standover thief who demanded 300 yuan for a 1 km ride from the Red Wall Hotel to somewhere inside the nearby huton
It was a rusty red wagon behind a motor cycle that stopped me as I walked out of the Red Wall Hotel. I was planning to walk to the Forbidden City behind the Hotel to take leisurely photos as I found the tour I went on was far too fast for photos.
I said no, then when he used 3 fingers I assumed it was 3 yuan as the distance was so close. Thinking he needed the money and 3 yuan was not that much, I carefully hopped onto the seat telling him I had a bad leg and would he drive carefully.
Yes, he spoke good English…so I asked him for his phone number so I could call him when I finished for him to bring me back to the hotel or collect me from the hotel… 18311344553…he said his name was something that sounded like xafai. He is about six foot, quite clean cut looking and speaks English well.
He took me to a corner in the huton and said this was as far as the bike went and I would have to walk the rest.
Then when I took out 3 yuan he got agitated and wanted more. I changed to 10 yuan notes and he still said no and wanted more…I showed him my wallet which had 100 yuan, which I told him was for my taxi to the airport the next day, and a heap of smaller notes…..He insisted on more and produced a card where had prices in English for various places and pointed to South gate for 300 yuan.
I was now getting angry as I was cornered somewhere in an isolated place inside the Huton. A girl came by and she stood with me..she had no English but she realised something was wrong and stayed there. Then two English speaking men came by who were Hospitality students and they stood with me until he took 30 yuan and fled when I pulled out my phone and said I was going to call my Boss.
The young men then walked me outside to where I was in the street that led to the Forbidden city, and was incidentally the same street I walked back to my Hotel after exploring the tourist Places.
They told me I was lucky they had come along as that he was not like all the Chinese in the area. I will never take one of those small vehicles again. I was so scared I spent all afternoon looking over my shoulder for him to materialize and every time a tout confronted me I almost ran from him.
Now I do have his phone number…the police here do not speak English but maybe you could call him, and get a story.
Because I have lived here many years teaching English and traveling to the Uni by that small vehicle, which I used to pay 2 yuan for, I took it thinking the price was OK. I did tell the thief that my taxi from the train Station was 56 yuan…and that my China tour was 160, so 300 yuan for a 5 minute ride was unreasonable as well as being downright robbery.
Because I was walking alone and I was aware of thieves, I took the precaution of emptying my bag so all I had was a wallet with one large note and a few small notes and no cards or ID. My phone is very cheap. I bought it for here after my original was stolen for 150 yuan, and my camera was on my belt and not visible. I also did tell him I have lived here for 3 years and that he was a thief…that was when the men were there
I wonder how many other unwary travellers he has conned and stolen from. His vehicle only fitted one person as it was small, and the place he took me to was a dead end lane and very quiet. I was lucky those men came by.