Something I have found very annoying and disheartening about India that young travellers, especially ever so slightly naive young Europeans, is Scammers.  Sure these people may be poorer than us Westerns and are merely opportunists and if the “foreigner” agrees to a price then what’s the harm?  OK, sure you got a point there; basically you’re saying taking advantage of the naivety and vulnerability is OK.  Alright, but my big grippe is with those who in my eyes are just blatantly dishonest and lie to meet their ends.  Poor or rich there’s no excuse for that.

One simple example of blatant dishonesty was the Kathmandu Laundry guy, you see you pay by the kg, he weights it and it says 6, now I wasn’t born yesterday, I know the difference between 6 and 3 kgs, so I take it somewhere else for a second weighing, sure enough 3kgs.  I go back to the guy, he claims to know nothing about it, but he’s using a pounds scale and charging people for Kgs - dishonestly.

Another is the fake hotel drop off by the crooked auto rickshaw driver to a guesthouse that has the same name and claims to be the place from the guide book you were looking for when it’s not – dishonestly. This happened to us in Varanasi.

However, those pale to this scam we heard from a young German couple (they had just returned from Kashmir when we met them and heard the story). They had just arrived New Delhi and went to the “Official Tourist Office” (scam, not really the real one) in town and are soon bullied into a tour to Kashmir, they pay four times the usual flight cost and once there, burly men confront them on their houseboat demanding they pay 300 Euros each for a four day trek and fly off the handle when they refuse.  At this point it turns criminal, the boy is manhandled, the young couple being scared pay them 200 Euros to be driven to the railway station so they can get the hell out of there.  

The driver stays with the young couple until they get on the train so they don’t talk to the police.  This is a young 20 year old couple being taken advantage of, they had come to India for some travelling and these people do this?  This is the extreme example, but it’s disgusting so for those new to travel you need to have your wits about you and don’t always trust everyone before asking a lot of questions first, or double checking with others first.

It is not the only story from inexperienced travellers being taken advantage of either that I have heard. The lesson is, if you plan to come to Asia, have your guard up in the tourist areas as most people who start talking to you are merely reading the ATM sign on your forehead.

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