It turned out to be a piece of cake.
The 23-year-old spent most of May living the high life: gorging on buffets in VIP lounges, sipping wine at exclusive events, and sleeping on plush sofas in the lobbies of five-star hotels. She ended up sticking to her zero-yuan budget with ease. The secrets to her success? A fake Hermès handbag, bright red lipstick, and a velour designer tracksuit — all of which helped Zou pose as a member of China’s wealthy social elite. She found that when she was disguised as a mingyuan— or “socialite” — businesses would let her exploit their hospitality without question.
“Though I’m poor, I was able to enter the world of the rich and get their free stuff,” Zou tells Sixth Tone. “I wanted to break the rules.”