Jillian R.
I was reading an email about made-in-China products which were detected to contain melamine and was taken off the shelves in Malaysia; makes us wonder how many others are still undetected, right?

Anyway, reading the email made me think of this incident which occurred when we first arrived in Muscat. It was our third day here; we haven’t found our own accommodation yet and were still staying at the small beach hotel in Qurum which Eric’s company had put us in. That morning, we were having brunch at a nearby coffee shop* when a local guy approached us. I can’t recall his name so we shall call him “Walid”. So Walid introduced himself and asked if he could sit with us. We were still getting used to the “Omani hospitality” so we shook hands and said “Sure! Please join us!”.

Walid admitted that he wanted to practice his English and he apologized for his limited vocabulary. We found him to be quite pleasant. While we ate our mediocre sandwiches, he told us about dessert parties where we could “ride the camels”. At this point I was convinced that he wanted to sell us something, possibly the camel rides. Also, he kept saying “come with me” – present tense; which sounded really pushy at the time. 

Eventually Eric asked how much do we have to pay for the camel rides. Walid looked absolutely shocked and said “NONONONO, IT’S FREE!”.  After lots of hand gestures and explaining in very broken English we finally understood that he was inviting us to a dessert party when there was one.

When we finished eating, Walid asked where we were going, we told him we were going to the mall. He said “I take you”. Usually, this means the guy runs a transport service and wants to make a profit right? No. He was just being nice. During the drive he talked about visiting Malaysia and possibly Thailand during his upcoming vacation. I looked out the window and zoned out a bit while Eric told him about places to visit there.

Then Walid suddenly spotted my Ray Ban aviators.
Walid: Your this…this… err (makes two circles around his eyes with his fingers)…very nice

Me: Oh my sunglasses? Thank you

Walid: Name what?

Me: These are Ray Bans, I really love them.

Walid: Ohh I want buy sun…glass. How much?

Me: Oh I got these for $ xxx , I’m sure you can buy them here too

(Actually, my Ray Bans are limited edition ones and I'm pretty sure he CAN'T get them here, but I didn't tell him, of course. The hand gestures would be too complicated)

Walid went quiet for a while, I wasn’t sure he understood me. Suddenly I remembered that I had a pair of sunglasses which I never wore in my purse. I got them from Korea a couple of years back and had only worn them once. They were one of those unisex frames. So I thought I would give it to him as a thank you gift for driving us to the mall.

Me: Here, I can give you these. I buy from Korea. Wear only one time. For you.

Walid: *took sunglasses, turns them around in his hands while driving, tries them on* This very nice.

Me: You like it? It’s yours. Thank you for taking us to the City Centre. It’s very nice of you.

Walid: *took off sunglasses, looks at them more closely now*

Me: (I thought this is quite rude but then again, different culture, whatever, no judgement)

Walid: This, made in China, this? *shoved (yes, shoved) me the sunglasses with the part which said “Made in China” clearly* I no like China.

Me: Uh…yes, um, I didn’t know (I honestly didn’t!! I bought them in Korea!!) *took sunglasses back, embarrassed, shocked, slightly insulted*

Walid: Sorry, huh? Sorry! I no like China.

“Sorry”? Wha-? I felt like I was trying to sell him the sunglasses or something. I was only trying to be NICE!

(The scariest phrase on a product?)

I guess I should never again attempt to give a local anything with “Made in China” stamped on it.


*Coffee shop; a (usually small) shop that serves hotdogs, shawarma (meat wrap), French fries and other fast food with sodas, juices or instant coffee.
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2 Responses
  1. jamie writes Says:

    LOL this is a good one! love your experiences in Muscat! :P


  2. Jillian R. Says:

    Thank you :) The sad thing is, these are TRUE stories. People can be so bizarre


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