Recognize and plan for those times when you need to be particularly careful such as when you arrive by bus, train or plane and the crowd in the arrival area suddenly mobs you, wanting you to take their taxi, their hotel room, their tour.
Here are some tips for surviving the mob:
- Think about what you’ll do when you get off the bus/plane/train such as: look for a money exchange bureau; find the authorized taxi stand; find the person holding up the sign with your name on it
- If you’re not being met, write the hotel where you’ll be staying on a piece of paper; if unknown, write the area or street where you plan to stay
- Hide your valuables and get a good grip on your luggage
- When you reach the mob, ignore all those who are trying to get your attention—stare right through them; don’t be sidetracked
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed get away from the crush, compose yourself and slowly decide how to proceed
- Don’t give up your luggage to a porter unless that is clearly what you want to do; some porters try to charge for carrying your luggage a very short distance; some try to get you to go in an unauthorized taxi
- Find the authorized taxi stand; show the driver the paper on which you have written the name of your hotel; know the fare before you get in the cab; have the driver write the fare on the paper if you are not sure what he is saying
- Ignore the taxi driver if he tries to talk you into going to another hotel with claims that it is cheaper or nicer or that your hotel is full.
You’ll visit countries where no one hassles you and you’ll say to yourself “that woman was just teasing me!” But when you meet those infamous mobs (and they are out there) you’ll say “aha, so this is what it was all about.”
A friend met the mob at the airport in Delhi. He had arranged for a driver to meet him but became a little concerned when he saw three different men each holding up a sign with his name on it. Not good. So he decided to go to the hotel on his own and left the airport and that’s when he met the mob. They were all over him, grabbing his luggage, pressing against him, at him, at him. And that’s when he remembered that he should only take an authorized taxi but an armed guard stood between him and the authorized taxi stand (he begged his way back in).
By Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses 2010