I feel like I was Shanghaied five times on this trip to China, dragged to the sell, sell, sell locations. One day it was pearls, another day it was jade, another it was silk or green tea and then finally herbal medicine.  Each time it was almost a waste of two and a half hours.


Pearls, pearls and more pearls. Even though we were Shanghaied the pearls were interesting to look at. I wanted to hold a fist full just to feel their cool caress.  I didn’t know that one oyster could have 25 – 30 pearls – amazing. I didn’t know that pearls came in so many different colours – pretty cool – I have to say. And then there were some pearls that were as big as a marble but I think that I would rather put a down payment on a house than dangle one from my wife’s neck.


Jade, Jade and more Jade – green, white and even red carved into what we might think of as Chinese clichés but for the Chinese they are layered with mythological and cultural significance. The lion’s paw on the ball or kit signifies male or female, the power or gentleness. Don’t you dare touch the eyes or the teeth of a dragon in fear of one calamity or another.


Silk, silk and more silk was displayed in a department store atmosphere with soothing Chinese music as a subliminal hint to buy, buy, buy after a short not very educational presentation about silk and silk worms. Inflated prices chopped in half then half again if you were astute enough to dicker but don’t be upset if you found convincing knock-off scarves at 100th of the price on the streets.


I could not afford pearls, silk or jade. I buy my green tea in Toronto and I don’t need any green tea pills to cure my fatty liver. Finally herbal medicine, no thanks. Am I supposed to trust someone that says he is a doctor that gives me a 20 second stick-your-tongue-out examination followed by a diagnosis and then sell, sell, sell some pills to cure all of my ailments.  LOL – I think not.


I soon realized

we were not tourists

but products sold

to the sell, sell, seller.

The tourist company paid

to bring me there

to buy, buy, buy.



The term “Shanghaied” comes from the term “Shanghaiing” which comes from the practice of kidnapping people to serve as sailors by coercive techniques. The verb “shanghai” joined the lexicon in the 1850s, possibly because Shanghai was a common destination of the ships with abducted crews. The term Shanghaied has since expanded to mean “kidnapped”.

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