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Rip Off At Wenchu Temple

Cobble-stone streets lined with traditional Naxi architecture in the Old Town of Lijiang, Yunnan's number one tourist destination, China

Cobble-stone streets lined with traditional Naxi architecture in the Old Town of Lijiang, Yunnan’s number one tourist destination, China

Depending on which way you choose to walk up to the “Looking at the Past Pavilion”, you may pass Wenchu Temple. There, we were taken for a ride, big time!

Young English speaking ladies in traditional dresses usher you into the temple where we met the “Taoist Master”. He asked for our Chinese signs and made us turn a small horn on large map of all Chinese signs. This round map was surrounded by small stacks of paper. Wherever the horn pointed, that piece of paper was yours. When we were asked to pay 20 Yuan for each slip, we thought this was a creative way to increase donations for the temple…

Then, we were asked inside the temple. The pieces of paper were translated and a piece of cloth was stamped with our names on it. The “Taoist Master” started with Heidi and told her that she had her second husband, which she vehemently denied pointing at Gilles and said, “No, first!”. He glanced puzzled at Gilles birth date and said, “Of course, first husband!” Then, there were two children (!!!), a beautiful face, a long life, happiness and of course … A lot of money. “Good, very good!” he kept saying. Our palms, foreheads and brows were touched and considered okay. The scenario for Gilles future was surprisingly (?) identical!

We were given two small glass mascots and a few other rituals were performed. We still thought this was part of the 20 Yuans, 2 Euros deal. Then came the big bang! Our “Taoist Master” showed the booklet so typical for tourist sites, stating who gave how much. The usual donation throughout Southwest China is 10 to 20 Yuans, exceptionally 50. Here we stared at numbers like 900 to 1.200 Yuans! He seemed really surprised when we told him we would not pay nearly as much. Then he started negotiating like any good souvenirs seller. Finally, we caved in and gave a hundred, which the master commented is per person. At this point we simply said “njet”! He nevertheless wrote 200 in his book. Maybe now, our souls burn in some Taoist hell…

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