The ‘Hello, HELLO!’ people.

One of the most entertaining parts of Beijing were the ‘Hello, HELLO!’ people. If you happen to wander around a popular sightseeing area in Beijing you probably have stumbled across these folks. (On a nice side note, most of these people are a couple of young girls or a guy ‘ never anyone that would intimidate you, much less drag you into an ally and mug you.) The place where their presence cannot go unnoticed is Wang Fu Jin Business District.

You will be walking along, admiring the Scorpions on a stick that those crazy Japanese tourists are eating, and hear a faint ‘Hello’ ‘ Which will grow stronger and louder as it tracks you down. Sometimes the ‘Hello’ will be a more inventive ‘Where are you from’ or ‘are you American’. If you make the mistake of replying in a nice manner you will invariably get a polite sob story about how artists in china are rejected by their peers and forced to beg on the street ‘ while they drag you off to a studio and try to sell you some stuff. Sad thing is this sob story is for the most part true. However, if you ignore them and walk by, many of them will get adamant and start screaming ‘HELLO!’ at you. Well, this is neither fun nor entertaining (at least after the first few times), so I decided I needed new ways to deal with the situation.

The first way I discovered to deal with them was to say ‘Wo bu shuo ying wen’. Which doesn’t work all that well.

Next attempt was to try talking in Spanish. This was a much more successful. The girl responded in Italian. I said ‘no intendo’, she spoke in German. I told her ‘you quiro juagar a la plya con las chicas’ and she walked away. Much more fun.

I also tried talking really fast in English. Didn’t work quite as well. If you continue to talk really fast ‘ even interrupt them whenever they try to get something in edge wise they will stay put and try to get you to follow them. So eventually I just kept talking and walked away. They of course followed for a little while until a more cooperative person happened along.

I also tried to play tag with them. The moment I heard them say hello, I would run after them tag them on the shoulder, declare ‘your it!’ and run off. They didn’t get it.

The final game I came up with is ‘freeze hello’. When someone address you with a ‘hello’ or ‘where are you from’ ‘ you freeze right there mid stride. Don’t move no matter what they say until they touch you. At which point it’s up to you — you can yell at them not to touch you or run away or fall down on the street and try to swallow you tongue.

I am sure there are many more fun things to try. One of the better ones would be to try and sell them something. Or maybe see how far you can get them to follow you. But please, don’t just ignore them.