When in China- KTV KARAOKE (and something known as the TEA SCAM)

When visiting China there is no doubt you will find yourself singing KTV karaoke at one point or another. The Chinese absolutely LOVE this form of entertainment and more often than not they decide to ‘give it a go’ at fairly inappropriate times: unless you too feel the urge to sing the Spice Girls at 5 in the morning, on a public bus, oh so loudly and off key.


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Early or not, this will never stop a merry group of Chinese having the time of their life, singing songs of years gone past and the top 40 classics in a somewhat unrecognisable way.

KTV Karaoke originated in Japan and rapidly became popular all over the world. It is loved by all ages and an activity that brings everyone together. There are many settings in which one can ‘karaoke’ but most popular is to hire a private room, get a group of friends together, order PLENTY of drinks and sing until you’ve lost your voice (or the bar closes, whichever comes first). There are a lot of places offering karaoke, some of which are even open 24/7 creating even more KARAOKE fun!

When I was in China I got approached by two lovely Chinese girls asking to practice their English. Now, if you have been to China you will know that this is not such a rare request. You have probably been asked to practice English, hold babies, pet dogs and take many, many (many!) photo’s with excited looking Chinese boys, girls, grandmas and grandpas. You probably have even been (not so) secretly videotaped walking down the street. It is quite funny actually and one really can’t get upset when a harmless Chinese man follows you down the street recording your every (Western) move. When being looked at he quickly swivels his camera to face the bin on the side of the road (you can just imagine him whistling in a Disney-like manner). As soon as you glance away for even a second, he will resume filming his masterpiece that will be titled something along the lines of “Weird tall white girl walking down the street”. The best thing is to just go along with it and enjoy your 15 seconds of fame. In all of my travels through China, (with either my family, a friend or my boyfriend) I got “paparatzoed” many times and it makes for funny situations. The Chinese are many things but subtle isn’t one of them, but then again, are we when we take pictures?…

Anyway, as I was saying: 2 girls asking to practice their English, right. So here you are chatting away when ‘someone’ mentions the desire to go for KTV karaoke (ok, it was me, but in my defence, when in China and all…). One of the girls will then suggest taking you and brings you to this ‘amazing’ place she knows. You drink (a lot), you dance, you sing. My god do you sing! There are Chinese songs; which you will attempt to keep up with after the right amount of Tsingtao beer and regret instantly as, you will soon discover, there is no keeping up with Chinese songs. Then there are the “English classics” which we obviously all know are Aaron Carter, S Club 7, Ashley and Jessica Simpson and something known as “The Cheeky Girls”… But rest assure you will as the Chinese say ‘play good’, and the only thing taking away from this (lets for argument sake call it typically) Chinese activity is the bill at the end of the night and the knowledge that you too got duped into the notorious tea scam. There are bottles of wine on the bill more expensive than a lobster-and-champagne dinner and drinks you won’t even recognise. This is either due to the fact that you had too many or the fact that the names are, as one can expect in China, in Chinese. And then there is the tea ceremony you hadn’t even realised had taken place. The monstrous bill will total to the amount of a small mortgage or at least a hot meal back home, but you will definitely be an experience richer.
….Oh well, at least you’ve given Hillary Duff a run for her money.

This way of scamming tourists out of money is becoming increasingly more common. Don’t let this put you off taking your new Chinese “friends” up on an offer to Karaoke, but make sure to check the price list before ordering your snake wine!

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