Tourist troubles in India
Have you ever found yourself in a spot of trouble when traveling?
Here’s a little story about Elephanta island, a short boat trip away from Mumbai.
We’d already encountered the usual scams in our other India tours, taxi drivers claiming places are closed and taking you to their friends shopping mall instead – yes ok my friend I believe you but perhaps let’s have a look at what my phone says – oh it says it’s open! Must be far harder to scam in today’s online World!
We’d arrived in Mumbai and after a days rest around the pool took a taxi to the port, the Gateway of India, to look around and take some pictures. Sold the idea of Elephanta Island, a short boat trip away with monkeys and magical, historical caves we headed excitably onboard. Escaping the fast paced from Mumbai was also pleasing!
Around 45 minutes later we descended off the boat and were given the choice to either take a little train up to the caves or to walk. This was a perfect chance to help shake off the precious nights excesses which the boat journey had done little to remedy!
As we started walking up a “friendly” guide approached. No thanks we said, happy to look around by ourselves. Ok, no problem he said. We were in no rush and it was a straight route up with other people around so couldn’t envisage any problems.
We passed the local venders trying to sell us thing but battered them off with smiles and said we’d have a drink on the way back down.
This guide followed us around, always about 10 feet behind making the odd comment about the caves we were visiting which although was a little odd we had no issue or concerns about.
The caves themselves are quite beautiful even if some of the stone work has been destroyed. The main caves have some impressive statues and carvings but the other caves are smaller, darker and less of interest.
Elephanta Island Caves
It’s also worth popping up to the cannon on top of the hill to take in the views.
Now all this time our “guide” had remained with us, stating information on the caves and offering to take pictures. Again, we took little notice choosing to ignore.
We had a few run-ins with the local food-stealing monkeys and went back down for a refreshing drink in the searing heat.
The only way off the island was by boat. As we had a beer to quell the searing heat the guide came and sat with us. Out of British politeness I bought him a few drinks whilst he talked about the island and his life. As it goes it was quite interesting although we clearly had some very different views.
We then began to stroll towards the boat. There aren’t a huge amount and we were told this was the last boat. Not fancying spending a night on the island we got up to leave and pay the bill. As I did so I felt a firm hand on my arm and was greeted with a sly smile by our “guide” who then asked for payment.
My companion is far more relaxed than me and tried to find a middle ground whilst I was hopping mad! Payment for what, you chose to follow us around, we declined your services etc. He said he’d spent 3 hours with us, no my problem I said you decision and we ignore you until the end! I said no to any payment and we left having paid the restaurant bill.
|As we walked along the long jetty our “guide” followed closely behind. Cross words were exchanged as we walked along with various threats given – you won’t get off the island, my friends won’t take you on the boat, I’ll go and get my “bad” friends etc – this went on even as we were on the boat.
Quite an experience, we didn’t pay any money. Perhaps if I’d be with a girlfriend I would have but I felt comfortable and angry enough not to be held to ransom. Have you found yourself in a similar situation?