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How do you guys deal with the touts?
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struelle



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 2372
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:16 am    Post subject: How do you guys deal with the touts? Reply with quote

This is my first post on this forum, I regularly post, live, and have worked in China for 3 years. I'm traveling for a week here, mostly in Java.

Great places to see and people to meet, no doubt about that, but I simply can't get over how bloody obnoxious and irritating the touts are in this country!! How do you guys deal with it? Coming from China, I've got a pretty good grasp of 'tout psychology' already and can fend these buggers off without too many problems.

But what really gets me is how persistent and omnipresent the touts are here. They are 10 times worse than China. Whereas most touts will congregate around gateways like bus stations, train stations, etc. here in Indonesia they are all over the damn street. EVERYWHERE! You know things are bad when I actually want to go to a McDonald's, it's one of the few places I can escape from the touts! Smile To quote a friend who had just come from here, he warned me, "The people are going to cheat you at every single turn."

Well, he was exactly right.

FYI there is a well-known 'tourist mafia' in Jogya which consists of a group of touts who operate in the gangs with all the budget accomodation. They masquerade as friendly locals who make polite conversation and say, "We have an art exhibition today, you can come, it's the last day before it closes." Then they make high-pressure sales pitches and quote paintings in X *dollars* where an Indonesian would pay the same in X thousand Rupiahs. The tourist mafia also sell overpriced packages to Mt Bromo and Bali, as well as send tourists to expsensive restaurants where they collect their commission.

I fell for none of these scams, but it seemed there was no getting away from this nonsense. As well, most of my trip was spoiled by having to defend against all these irritations.

Things did improve at the end by moving the hell away from the budget hotel gangs and spending more on better accomodation. This was a wise move, as the other hotels on Jalan Prawiroptha? even had swimming pools for only 100,000 Rupiahs. And way fewer touts there. Finally it got better with a volcano tour to Mt Merati with some Swedish friends.

Once in the mountains, the people were far more genuine and friendly, no cheating. The tour guide even sat down with us and told legends about the volcano, as well we enjoyed a morning of peace.

For all you long-terms here, hats go off. I'm sure you've found a way to deal with the touts, but the tourist authorities here should really get on tops of this here. The touts can be a major deterrent to having a fun and peaceful trip here.

Steve
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gugelhupf



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 575
Location: Jabotabek

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've been rather unfortunate with this - tourist honeypots seem to be full of touts and scammers but elsewhere life is much less irritating. Here in sleepy W Sumatra most people are pretty genuine and we tend to pay the same prices for goods and services as the locals.

Contrast this with my transit at CGK airport where I got completely fed up with the constant barrage from touts. I found that a curt "tak mau" made the point, but it was still irritating to have to deal with so much pond life in such a short space of time.
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El Llama



Joined: 12 Jul 2004
Posts: 70
Location: The Big Durian

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, the "taxi" touts at Soekarno-Hatta are a right pain in the proverbial -persistent, high prices, crappy cars as well. Whenever I arrive, I go upstairs to the departure area and jump in a normal cab after it has unloaded its passengers. No stress and you don'y have to pay the "airport tax."

Only hitch, there's some rule barring it. Fortunately, it is the kind of rule than can be overcome by giving 5 thou to the security guard Smile
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ls650



Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 3484
Location: British Columbia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm with the original poster. When I taught in Indonesia, I found it difficult to enjoy travel with the constant pestering of these dorks.

I learned quickly the phrase "tidak, terima kasih", but the 'touts' would still hang around and badger me constantly.
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guru



Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Posts: 156
Location: Indonesia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At CGK you can get a silverbird taxi. There's no hassles. Just book at the Silverbird counter.

What I've done in the past is go right to the end of the airport and hailed a passing bluebird. You need to get in really quick because the Satpams are really aggressive and threatening.

If you are on a tight budget you can get a Damri bus to Jakarta, Gambir railway station or Bogor (it's dirt cheap).
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Bedevilled



Joined: 02 Aug 2004
Posts: 28
Location: Medan, North Sumatera

PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

previous posts made the suggestion to learn enough of the language to say 'no thank you'. It will go a long way. Try using your head too, it wouldn't hurt. If they see you're new in town and you're flustered, they'll try to bombard you and won't leave you alone in the hopes you'll get fed up and say okay... because it might be easier to do that than fend them off.

"I have friends picking me up"

(Depending on the airport, you may even be able to walk out to the main road and catch a taxi. Way cheaper. Otherwise pick one and tell them where you have to go. You don't like the price, then walk away. The price will come down.)

"don't waste my time" (good when trying to bargain prices)

"I've already made reservations"


Three very handy phrases to use. Try to roll with the flow and not get your panties in a bunch. Indonesia is a place that requires (infinite amounts, sometimes) of patience and tolerance. You can't let it get to you, otherwise you'll give yourself a coronary from the stress.
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TEAM_PAPUA



Joined: 24 May 2004
Posts: 1679
Location: HOLE

PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:44 am    Post subject: * Reply with quote

Hey Steve! (I guess we're not having that beer in Shanghai then Shocked )

Just ignore them mate - I did for two years!



T_P Cool
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Cardinal Synn



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 581

PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The way I dealt them was to smile and say, 'Tidak Mau' without breaking step or stopping conversation or munching food or slurping drink or smoking cigarette or a thousand other occupations they try to interupt.
There is no need to be curt or unfriendly, after all you're in their land and they aren't doing it because they're rich. You get so used to them after a while anyway, that you don't even notice them much.
At the airport, just ignore the taxi touts and walk to the back of the taxi rank and you'll find a Bluebird taxi hovering (if not, one will arrive very soon). The only taxi companies I trust in Jakarta are Bluebird and Centris (or is it Centrus? dur, can't remember) The one to avoid is Prestasi.
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struelle



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 2372
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:14 am    Post subject: Re: * Reply with quote

Hey Papua,

We'll do the beer, I just arrived in Shenzhen now, should be in the big smoke in a couple days Smile

Steve
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struelle



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 2372
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Bedevilled,

Good suggestions and having been working in China for 3 years, similar advice applies there. What really gets me in Indonesia though, is the persistence and repititon of the touts. Fending off a few is fine, but shooing off more than 200 in one train ride? C'mon, that's ludicrous!

I guess for expats who live and work here it's different, you learn to adapt as I did in China. But for tourists who just want to relax and have a vacation, dealing with touts and 'adapting' to them is unnecessary stress that takes away from fun. The sheer volume of aggressive touts also gives me the negative impression that parts of Indonesia (the most developed, actually) are quite backward and corrupt. Certainly a deterrent from future visits and/or decisions to work there.

Fortunately I had some good times away from the pondscum, such as climbing the volcanoes at Mt Merapi and checking out Peranggritis Beach.

Still, the tout issue is something that the tourist authorities should deal with, if they want to see increased visitors to the country. Some immediate suggestions could include:

- no-soliciting zones outside train, bus, airport, and ferry terminals, reinforced by police or security guards.
- clear signage to direct tourists to licensed taxi operators.
- vendors must apply for mandatory tourist licenses to provide services like tour groups, rentals, hotels, internet bars, money changing, etc.
- signs posted up warning travelers to beware of scams and not trust strangers to help buy them tickets (they have these in Thai bus stations)

Not that any of this would actually happen, but it's worth considering if the government wants tourists to come. My impression is they don't, and I feel that Westerners are increasingly unwelcome, so I guess it's a moot point.

Steve
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ls650



Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 3484
Location: British Columbia

PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

struelle wrote:
The sheer volume of aggressive touts also gives me the negative impression that parts of Indonesia (the most developed, actually) are quite backward and corrupt.


Your impression is correct.
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guruengerish



Joined: 28 Mar 2004
Posts: 424
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2004 6:31 am    Post subject: Touts in Indonesia Reply with quote

Things must be getting worse in Yogya! I didn't have much problem with them a year ago. A few popular restaurants and pubs have closed due to the lack of tourists.

I certainly found that using the Javanese for 'no thank you' had a quick effect, as they assumed you were not just off the plane.

I was also taken for a ride with touts. Following a round trip on my first visit to Yogya, the driver offered to buy my train ticket back to Jakarta. I gave him the money, and that was the last saw of him.

On my return to Yogya some two months later, I went to the station and asked to see the head of the tourist mafia, which everyone denied existed. I kept asking, (I remembered the name of the guide) and was eventually taken to a scruffy looking guy amongst the hangers-on at the station, who said that he would speak to someone.

I went by betcak back to my hotel, and believe it or not, my money had been returned and was waiting at reception!
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struelle



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 2372
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:44 am    Post subject: Re: Touts in Indonesia Reply with quote

Quote:
Things must be getting worse in Yogya! I didn't have much problem with them a year ago. A few popular restaurants and pubs have closed due to the lack of tourists.


I would suspect so. During my trip there I saw, at most, 10 other Westerners. This surprised me as Yogya was renowed as a top destination in the past.

The Lonely Planet guide showed both a negative GDP growth and high inflation rate for Java, both of which I'm skeptical of. Certainly the inflation has had a marked effect, if you compare, say today's prices with 1997 ones. But hasn't this more or less settled down? Also, the economy is expected to be growing again, if not already, under Susilo's leadership.

Hopefully the tourist numbers will increase again if the economy picks up more and Susilo can bring about more stability. The terrorist threat is another issue that must be tackled, especially when you see the rise in fundamentalist Islam - I'm sure he knows about that.

Glad to see you had success with getting your money back from the tourist mafia! Now that would be unheard of, as they descend like vultures on the few remaining tourists who dare make the trip. But, hopefully, that will change under the new leadership.

Hey, he's declaring war on corrpution!!!! In principle that's great to see, but in reality, let's just see what happens.

Steve
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Cardinal Synn



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 581

PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lonely Planet guides tend to be out of date almost as soon as they're published. You only need to compare the book's hotel prices with those of the actual hotels to see this. I imagine the information about inflation etc. is from a few years ago. Smile
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Chester



Joined: 15 May 2004
Posts: 383
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 2:19 am    Post subject: A way to the future Reply with quote

So the new president will fight corruption and magically improve the economy and the people will be happy. NICE. I think 90% of employed indonesians got their job through corruption and nepotism. a free economy will mean the end of monopolies and lead to competition - which would threaten most peoples jobs as they are not productive (and never had to be). we will see, but I doubt if anything wil change in Indonesias economy for a long time yet.
its not in the interests of those with the power to put in motion policies which threaten their cartel. New president? New Regime?
"meet the new boss...same as the old boss........we wont be fooled again!"
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