We don´t mean to scare you but in every travel, we found ourselves in certain situations in which someone realized that we were tourists and tried to get money from us by a scam.
Before travelling, we think it´s important to learn about the destination culture, museums, attractions, transport, accommodation, etc… But that´s not all. Besides, we think it’s convenient to find out about such situations in order to be able handle them, and then turn them into travel anecdotes.
Lady of the rings
Imagine the picture. We were walking beside the senna river heading to D’orsay Museum, it was autumn so it was a bit cold and streets were covered in brown and yellow leaves. Suddenly, between the leaves, a pretty big golden ring appeared. Sergio bended to grab it, and in that moment a lady also tryed to take it. Finally she stared at Sergio and tells him to keep it. Astonished, we walk a few meters holding the ring. There’s a strange sense in the air..
Closer to the museum, the gentle lady, who let us keep the ring, came to us and begun yelling that she was very poor and didn’t have anything to eat, so since since she gave us the ring, we would have to give money in exchange. In that moment we realized we had fallen into the trick. We wanted to give her the ring back but she kept asking for money. We never thought about giving her any big money, we had to be careful about our budget, and the only thing we had was some coins in the pocket of our camera case so we gave her one euro and as she kept yelling, we run away to the museum.
Once in our hotel, we begun searching on the Internet and we found that this kind of scam is very common in Paris and in general, when people want to give money to this woman, they end up giving her 20 or 50 euros for a very cheap ring. In worst cases, when the tourist takes out the wallet looking for money, this person grabs the wallet and runs away.
The “nice” taxi driver that offers a ride that has it all
When we arrived to Ica, Peru, the first thing we wanted to do was to go to the Huacachina lagoon but it was quite far from our hostel, about 6 kilometers, so we decided to take a taxi. Ica is full of noisy taxis and motorcycle taxis that circulate slowly on the streets trying to attract customers. We stopped a car and told him that we wanted to go to the lake but the driver said that for a small fee we could also visit two warehouses and a factory of chocotejas. We really didn´t care about the chocotejas factory and the first thing we wanted to do was to go to the lake before the sun went down.
He drove directly to the cellars first, and he made sure that we would have time to go to the Huacachina lagoon on daytime. We got to the first destination, we visited the cellar and tried different types of pisco and as we were there, we bought some bottles, for which the driver took his commission, of course. You get to try eight types of pisco so leaving without buying is almost impossible. Honestly we enjoyed the ride but we ended up spending more money than we expected. But that was not all! When we left the cellar, the driver wanted to take us to another winery which could mean another expense in bottles of pisco that then we wouldn´t even know how to carry so we got firm and told him to take us wherever we wanted. In short, we went to the lagoon at night and we couldn´t see much.
No matter our faces of anger he insisted on going to the chocotejas factory, so we went and received a small tasting to make us buy so our friend could again get his commission but we had already learned.
That day we ended up doing what the driver wanted us to do. Were we fools? A little, these guys are masters of persuation.
Stalker Tuk tuk
Second day in Bangkok and much to learn. Wat Pho and the Royal Palace were our choices. The heat was unbearable, the sky was cloudless and there were no trees in the way to rest. Near Wat Pho there was a stand with a parasol selling cold drinks, an oasis in the desert, so we bought bottles of water and we stayed for a while in the shadow.
At that time a man approached asking us where we were from, if we liked Thailand, he welcomed us to his country and asks us where we were going, so we told him that we’re going to Wat Pho and said: “Noooo, it is closed because tomorrow is the Songkran and monks are meditating, go to see other temples and come back at six. I can offer you a Tuk Tuk to take you to other temples that are open” I told him that no, we preferred to go to Royal Palace first and then Wat Pho. Immediately this man, middleman between client and tuk tuk driver, began shouting at us and left very angry.
The tuk tuk is much more expensive than a taxi and also they are always trying to rip off tourists taking them to other temples that maybe are not what they want to see and obviously charge exorbitant sums of money compared to costs in Southeast Asia ( with the exception of Singapore, of course).
This situation not only repeated many times at the entrance to other temples but also a day we were waiting for a boat that would take us near the Siam Paragon shopping center. Nearby there was a couple from Germany to which they were done the same scam, a man was telling them that malls were closed and he could take them to see temples. When we saw that scene we approached them and told them not listen, we knew the Siam Paragon was open. Finally, the four of us shared taxi to cheapen the trip. Please note that it is not personal, you have to see them in action to see that they act as mafias.
Unmetered taxis (or metered but not wanting to turn it on)
In Bangkok we stayed in Khao San Road, landmark of the film “The Hangover II? It’s amazing but a bit far from the metro lines, so from Hua Lamphong one of the few ways to get there is by taxi. We must be very attentive to the driver to start the meter (clock) and you have to demand it. If the driver refuses, you have to get off the taxi and wait another. So until you get an honest taxi driver to turn on the meter. If you don´t require them to turn on the clock can pay up to eight times a trip, and a cheap destination can turn into the complete opposite.