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How to treat ‘begpackers’?

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
103 posts
1,766 reviews
1,076 helpful votes
How to treat ‘begpackers’?

You’ve seen them near TST, in Wan Chai, on Lamma, even in Kowloon Tong: Westerners holding up signs/selling some cheap rubbish in order to fund their Round-the-World adventures. I think these people are as low as it gets in terms of entitlement and insensitivity but my question is: how to respond? Confront them? Take pictures of them then shame them on social media? Throw 10c coins their way and shout, “Dance, dance!”? Or is there some other to make them realise how wrong it is to beg for money in order to fund their holidays?

35 replies to this topic
California
Level Contributor
3,974 posts
19 reviews
11 helpful votes
1. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

How about you just ignore them? At best you're likely to start a confrontation that will make you feel a lot more uncomfortable than someone who would beg for travel money in the first place. There are more important social ills to fix in this world if you want to take on a cause.

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
103 posts
1,766 reviews
1,076 helpful votes
2. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

Agreed (poverty among the elderly and disabled in HK are two causes that leap to mind) but it just irks in the extreme when these idiots are begging on the same streets, often next to, those two genuinely needy groups I identified above. These three groups are the only people you ever really see begging in the city at all. Their greediness/lack of foresight makes ALL Westerners in HK look like grasping, myopic scroungers. I do agree that a confrontation would be uncomfortable but how ese to make these people realise what they’re doing is wrong?

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
8,055 posts
36 reviews
45 helpful votes
3. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

There are lots of scam artists on the streets, too, like fake monks and time share touts. Do you feel equally compelled to put them in their place?

>>Their greediness/lack of foresight makes ALL Westerners in HK look like grasping, myopic scroungers.<<

Why would they? I certainly don't think that's the case. Lots of Westerners stay in nice expensive hotels, too. Similarly, I don't think all Westerners are rich. (But that's just my point of view. Can't say others don't stereotype.)

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
67,817 posts
181 reviews
180 helpful votes
4. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

If you aren't interested in giving them anything, why do you even need to acknowledge their existence? I just walk past them all the time. The same goes for organized beggars from mainland China--those who typically have a physical deformity. Before any non-local blasts me as being insensitive, it's well-known here in HK that these are actually organized gangs coming down to make a buck, and they make a lot of money.

Anyway, this post isn't even travel-related.

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
103 posts
1,766 reviews
1,076 helpful votes
5. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

Glacierfed and Sammy, I appreciate that there are other scam artists begging in HK. Given that I do not speak Cantonese or Mandarin, I feel unable to challenge them. And I am not sure if I would, as I would find it very hard to tell which people were begging as part of a criminal enterprise and who had fallen on hard times, who genuinely had no other option. I suppose it's about context. I realise this leaves me open to the criticism that Westerners on (however extended a) holiday may also have had some misfortune, such as being robbed or scammed themselves. But their signs never reflect this: its seems they have CHOSEN to beg as a way of funding their luxury habit, namely travel. And as for it affecting the way in which Westerners are perceived, I'm merely going on the reactions of my Chinese and Western colleagues, all of whom seem to feel that it makes them doubt the sincerity of anyone who might be in real need.

As for this not being travel-related, again I disagree as it goes to the core of how people fund their travels and how they view this experience, seemingly as a right. This is an incredibly entitled way of thinking about something which the vast majority of the world is in no position to experience. Given that we (posters to a travel forum) are all fortunate enough to have been able to afford such wonderful, varied experiences, I find the idea that anyone owes them the means to do this very troubling. Especially when those they are asking for money (maybe more of a problem in even poorer countries in SE Asia than relatively affluent HK) are not able to travel themselves.

But you're all right that I should just walk past them, and I do. However, I find that solution unsatisfactory: if no one challenges them on it in person then they will continue to take the mick.

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Tokyo
Level Contributor
27,745 posts
30 reviews
56 helpful votes
6. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

Why don't you report them to Immigration Department as they are not abiding to the conditions of stay.  

Or the police for contravening <<summary offences ordinance>>

districtcouncils.gov.hk/east/doc/2012_2015/t…

(document only available in Chinese)

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
67,817 posts
181 reviews
180 helpful votes
7. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

I don't know why you get so bent out of shape about this. There are all sorts of beggars, Western or Chinese, plus others.. Whatever habits (traveling, smokes, drugs) they are funding, if you don't want to give, then just don't give. It's the same as walking past a bunch of real estate agents trying to sell you flats. To me, they might as well be transparent.

Hong Kong
Level Contributor
837 posts
29 reviews
27 helpful votes
8. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

What's the fuzz about? Can't see what the problem is.

In fact, Hong Kong lacks people that bring in a skill. Would love to see more street performances. Saw a young couple a few month back in Wanchai that did some drum performance, was just amazing.

On the simple beggar type, prefer them to the organized gang beggars that are usually send from China.

@SammyF1oyd

real estate agents, LOL, that I agree is an eyesore.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong
Level Contributor
11,388 posts
9. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

Street artists would indeed be an enrichment - but they should leave their terrible electric amplification out of it. It seems that this is all illegal with no way to get permits.

Those "begpackers" I just ignore, and as long as everyone does this, the issue will go away by itself. Reporting to police is another option indeed - what they do may very well be illegal.

More irritating to me are those copywatch/suit peddlers, or those offering massage.

Once in Mongkok I had a middle-aged Chinese lady trying to sell me massage services. First I simply ignored her, didn't work, she continued asking. A bit later told her directly that I'm not interested. Still not enough. She continued to follow me into a building (I was there to pick up some shirts from an upper-floor tailor shop) and into the lift up. On the way down she was still there, nagging me. Then in the lift going down, in front of a bunch of other people that happened to be in the lift as well (that part was not intentional, just a nice bonus), I gave her a piece of mind in a loud and seriously angry voice - she was very silent after that. Some people seem to just don't get the message otherwise...

Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
1,171 posts
90 reviews
78 helpful votes
10. Re: How to treat ‘begpackers’?

I always doubt that wetheter they r the tourists or the professional begpackers

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