How I Was Scammed in Beijing Airport

“Don’t be gullible, use life before it uses you. Understand there are no free lunches, and for every action you take, there’s a reaction.” Sylvester Stallone

I know, I know! I feel so ignorant that I was scammed. But more than that, I felt sad that there is that harsh world of scammers. Husband always scolded me about this, always told me that I live in a fairy tale world. I received that comment with indignation. I don’t think I was stupid because I always believed in the utmost goodness of man.

This, however, just threw me off my belief and forced me to see others in great caution. At the end of the day, we should choose to protect ourselves in the first place.

Okay, so now to my story. Sorry, I got side-tracked haha —

I was on my way back to Manila from my four-day Beijing trip. I was early at the airport and was viewing the flight schedules when a man in a suit with an Air China nameplate approached me and in pre-school English and a lot of Mandarin, told me that he will assist me to the counter. Since I was too early, He said that I will be catered to a different front desk apart from where all the other passengers lined up. The counter was just beside the other Air China counters so I did not have any doubt that this was just some staff extending excellent customer service. Check-in was a breeze and I searched in the internet how much other people would usually tip. I did not see any reference. Since I was feeling pretty generous because of this extra mile (and I did not have smaller bills as well), I was planning to give him RMB100!

After checking in, he pointed to me the gate and asked me for RMB300! Is this guy effin’ crazy?! That is equivalent to PHP2,100 just for a tip his assistance? What the hell! He kept on egging me to give him more and I interjected and shouted what a lousy kind of an airline personnel he is. I told him I do not have any bills anymore. He kept on insisting until I raised my voice several notches higher, enough for other people to look at us. When I was drawing a little more attention, he left and said goodbye. Ugh!

I searched for Beijing scams and found out that there are sooooo many crazy scammers in China! So to give you a heads up and to those naive travelers like me, here is a list of those scams that I have found in other sites:

1. Top Scams in Beijing
2. Scams and the City
3. Comprehensive Scams from China-Mike

Hmm, this makes me all the more scared to go around. This has been my third time in Beijing and the past two visits had been okay since I had a colleague with me. This time around, I was alone, I did not look anything Chinese, can’t speak Mandarin (I truly regret not taking my classes seriously), so I was an easy target.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that it was all that I shelled out for a con artist. I am ever so glad that I was not part of any of those more serious ones that I cited above.

Lesson learned for RMB100. Hope you won’t fall into this trap and yeah, don’t trust a helping hand all the time.

Corporate Junkie

Day 91: Because Amici is Love

Amici is a restaurant close to my heart. We used to traverse the roads of Pasong Tamo from our old office to the canteen of Don Bosco to experience their awesome pizza, pasta and of course, the gelato.

Even now, when we want comfort food, we go to Amici at the Venice Piazza. It seems like most of the critical conversations that I have with my friends from work happen in Amici. It has become our stress-busting place which offers really good Italian food. The restaurant has two floors, an ambiance which is really homey (imagine picture frames of old photos hanging on its walls) and ample seating area.

I already have my staple here. Parmigiano Pizza (PHP248) al Pesto which is parmesan-coated pizza crust served with a side of pesto sauce. Equally good is their spinach artichoke. Same coated pizza crust with spinach artichoke dip. This can be good for 2-3 persons.

This one is my ultimate favorite — Chorizo E Spinaci (PHP432). It is gourmet Spanish chorizo and spinach in white sauce. Good for 3-4.

For their pasta, I always order the Linguine Al Prosciutto E Tartufo (not in photo, PHP298) which is a flavorful combination of prosciutto (as the name suggests), truffle oil, porcini and shiitake mushrooms. Good for 2-3. 

Here is a photo of their Linguine Al Salmone Cremoso (PHP318) which is basically linguine pasta in a creamy mix of salmon, white sauce and lemon. 

To know more of Amici’s menu, click here.

The Amici Story (from their website)

In June of 1994, Fr Gianluigi Colombo, a Salesian Italian priest in charge of overseeing the operations of the Don Bosco Printing Press, was given permission by Don Bosco management to set up a “canteen” to support its employees. Fr Colombo made the request to address the concern of its employees not having access to good food during lunch break.

 The employees not only got good food to satisfy their hunger but authentic, freshly-made Italian dishes in a “turo-turo” setting. The friendly, familiar atmosphere made the foreign dishes that were new to their palette, less intimidating and phenomenal beyond anything they had ever tasted before.

Starting with Italian coffee and gelato, the canteen eventually introduced wood-fire oven baked pizzas and homemade pasta. Fr Colombo’s kitchen eventually became a taste of heaven where tired and weary “souls” found comfort.

By June 2001, Amici di Don Bosco (Friends of Don Bosco) was legally established as a business entity to also serve the needs of students studying in Don Bosco. The “turo-turo” was now known to many as a self-service canteen and eventually opened its doors to a broader market. However, it wasn’t the requirements of the printing press nor of the students of Don Bosco alone that kept Amici di Don Bosco’s stove burning.
News of great Italian cuisine prepared and served by priests and “ordinary people” inside a canteen spread like wildfire, attracting patrons from all over Metro Manila. From humble beginnings, the printing press cafe became known for authentic Italian pizza, pasta, and gelato.

Initially believing that it was the good Italian food that drew in the crowds, the employees eventually realized that they offered something much more. Customers experienced a certain warmth and charm whenever they came; where the staff treated each and every customer with special attention. People from all walks of life: expatriates and celebrities, white and blue-collar workers, housewives and socialites, flocked to Makati to experience Amici di Don Bosco. Every day, from 11am to 2pm, this inconveniently located “hole-in-the-wall” along Pasay Road would be packed with lines of patrons waiting to be seated!

Perhaps the novelty of the paradoxical situation became an attraction; Italian cuisine in a canteen setting, warm and excellent service by people who had no formal training: former carpenters, printing press laborers, and priests. Everyone was willing to share tables, eat using mismatched utensils, appreciate the same good food, and enjoy the same ambience of chaos brought about by good friends and family at the table!

This is the “magic” of Amici di Don Bosco!

Buon appetito!

Corporate Junkie