Shortly after we moved to Beijing, I met my wife for lunch on a balmy afternoon and at the end of the meal, she asked our waitress for a fapiao and explained to me that it had a scratch off award area. She scratched away the silver bar and underneath was a prize for RMB 10. Beaming like the Cheshire Cat, she returned to the cashier to receive her cash winnings. Ever since, I’ve been scratching away. Everywhere I ate, I requested a fapiao like a man desperate to win the lottery. However, after three years of fruitless scratching, I still had not won once. I decided this exercise in chance was futile and simply gave up.
I have friends in Xi’an and Shanghai who win the “fapiao lottery” quite regularly. In Xi’an, one friend explained that he wins every couple of weeks, but that the prize money is small, usually RMB 5 or 10. However, Lisa from Shanghai won RMB 3,000 last year after a meal. That’s some hefty coin for simply taking the time to scratch at a receipt, but three years is a long dry spell and I simply assumed Beijing’s odds were much smaller than other Chinese cities’ and therefore not worth the effort.
Recently, Lisa from Shanghai came through town and we met for dinner. I told her of my lack of faith in the almighty fapiao award area and she chided me for not sticking with it. What did I have to lose other than a few seconds of my time? So with much skepticism, last month, I began scratching away again. And then it happened. After enjoying a tasty burger at The Filling Station out by WAB, I requested a fapiao, scratched, and won RMB 500! Honestly, the waitresses got more excited than I did. They showed the winning receipt to Claire Bradbery, the manager of the Filling Station, and Claire told me she was completely unaware of the award area on fapiaos and had to call a colleague for guidance in the matter. Consequently, I did some checking around and it seems that many of the expats in Beijing do not ask for receipts and are unaware of the potential for instant cash awards.
Now, not all fapiaos have instant prize areas (taxis receipts do not), but the ones that do state clearly, albeit in fine print, award area above the place where you scratch away. If you would like to know more about the history of fapiaos and the awards, including how to enter each fapiao number into a monthly lottery, you can check out this wiki site here.
Three years was a long time to wait for a winner, but I’m quite satisfied with the amount of my first award. I just hope my next winning receipt doesn’t take so long. Good luck, and happy scratching.
Photos: Christopher Lay