In many situations you have to be careful. Especially in areas where there are lots of tourists and people who are less than honest gather opportunistically. It happens everywhere. The guide books for the country will warn you about the specific scams, etc. This post isn’t about places like that.
Away from the maddening crowd
When you get away from areas where there are a lot of tourists things change. Not everyone is out to get you, and sometimes people really do just want to drink tea and visit, showing off their business, wares, or artwork, or sharing a hobby.
My first, and probably best ever, “yes” was when I was wandering, not quite lost in Weifang. I didn’t know exactly where I was but I knew how to get back to my son’s apartment. I was looking at a water work and an older man stopped. I’m not quite sure how we communicated but I wound up following along with him. He was carrying a long, thin tube that I thought might be a fishing pole. It wasn’t, it was his kite. I wound up watching him and his friends fly their kites, then he let me have the controls and I let him play with my camera. It was a wonderful afternoon. My post Chance Encounter is about that afternoon.
A few times I’ve spotted something interesting in a shop window. When I get close to peer in, someone pops up and invites me in for tea. Drinking tea with friends is part of doing business in this part of China (it may be in others, I just don’t know).
A tea shop where I did this turned out to be owned by a somewhat well-known Chinese painter and the young woman who kept the shop was one of his students, she showed me around the studio that was upstairs.
The jun ceramics shop (Take Luck) I happened on, while spirally exploring near my son’s apartment here in Shouguang, is splendid, basically it is an art gallery. The owner took us to her newer showroom that was even more spectacular the next day.
A less slam-dunk “yes” that turned out great was when I was walking back after having lunch with my son at work. I was wandering through a fun park that runs through town on an old rail line, taking photos. A couple of men approached me and struck up a conversation. They wanted to show me a rose garden. I had them call James, and after talking to them he said he thought it was fine.
It was. Turned out these two worked for the company that built structures within several parks in the city. They enjoyed showing off their work and were obviously rose buffs. They took me to a different park the next day. Sadly that park is gone now. It was on the river bank and they are reworking the dams because of floods from a typhoon that passed through last fall.