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#229
I originally posted this on Quora, figured I would share on here as well =)

Timeframe: October, 2012

Location: Jaipur, India.

Background: Had just completed a 35-day trek through the Himalayas with NOLS. After finishing the program, decided to continue traveling in India with a close friend. Following a few days in Delhi, friend and I (we’ll call him Greg) decided to save a few bucks and took a cheap, local bus to Jaipur. We were in the very back row. Sat through the 4 or 5 hour ride with our packs on our laps, and 7 people crammed in the back.

The story: We arrived in Jaipur after sundown, and had little idea of where our guesthouse was. Immediately after getting off the bus we were approached by dozens of people asking if we needed lodging, where we were going, etc. One man in particular seemed overly eager to help, his name was Babu. He had a beer belly, a lazy eye, and was clearly not too well off financially. We chatted with him for a while, and he pointed us in the direction of our guest house.

The next day, we explored Jaipur on foot, and had a great time wandering through the local markets and back alleys. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant, and while we were eating some locals struck up a conversation with us. Two were about our age (around 22 at the time), and the other was a few years older. They invited us to drink chai with them at a shop down the street (we had drank chai with dozens of locals on our trek, so didn’t think twice). While drinking chai, the three new “friends” asked if we wanted to go with them to a nightclub later that night. Eager to get the local perspective, we agreed.

Later that night, our friends picked us up in a car at our guest house. We drove to what seemed like an amusement park. People dressed in tribal attire, a tree house, some wild animals, interesting for sure but not a nightclub. We sat down and had a big meal with our friends, and continued our conversations. They offered to show us a tour of the city the next day. We agreed. Part of the reason we were eager to continue hanging out with our friends, was we wanted to travel south to Mumbai, and our friends said they were driving down there within a couple days, and we could road trip with them.



The following day, our friends again picked us up in their car, and showed us a carpet making factory they owned. We each ended up ordering a carpet which was sent back to the US.



After carpet shopping, we went to a local pool and snooker hall and had a few beers with our friends. This is when they propositioned us. They were in the “jewelry exporting” business, and they worked with tourists to export jewelry, because with a tourist visa they don’t have to pay the astronomical export taxes. We said it was interesting, but we weren’t interested in helping.

We continued hanging out with our friends, as we didn’t know where we were, and had little reason to mistrust them. After the pool hall, we started driving again. This time, we seemed to be heading towards an especially run-down part of town. Dilapidated buildings, visibly impoverished people everywhere (more so than typical in India). We stopped at what appeared to be a hotel, and walked in with our “friends.” They clearly commanded respect from the hotel owners. We went with them up the 5 or 6 flights of stairs onto the roof. While on the roof, we sat down on reed mats, and had chai with our friends. We realized we didn’t know where we were in the city, we didn’t know much about our friends, and the only way down was a staircase which was essentially blocked. At this point we were certain we were in a bad situation.

A well-dressed man walked up the staircase, and introduces himself. He sits down with us, and brings high-end Whiskey, and ice (very unusual for India), and offers a drink. He then starts asking questions about our backgrounds, our parents, if anyone knows where we are, and then finally propositions us to bring jewelry with us to the US. They would organize and pay for our flights, and when we arrive, they would have a contact waiting. We would then drop off the parcel, and the contact would give us each 8,000 USD for transporting the jewelry. We thank them for the offer, and say we’re not interested. We continue sitting there and they try to make small talk.

Then, another Indian man walks through the doorway. He’s tall, very muscular, wears fitted clothing, and is wearing lots of expensive-looking jewelry. Everyone bows to him when he walks through the door, and he is clearly the boss of the situation. He sits down, and continues to ask questions about us, our parents, what they do for a living, if anyone knows where we are, our backgrounds etc. He then talks about his background. We ask if they are all friends (we’re trying to keep our cool and not look like we’re petrified, my heart was pounding in my chest throughout this whole situation). He laughs and tells us they are much more than friends and business partners, they are more like a “family.” All of them laugh. I’m scanning the area for any possible exit, but the only way down is the stairway, as we’re on the roof of a 5 story building.

The well-dressed boss aggressively propositions us to carry jewelry from Jaipur to NYC. He says we’ll stay with them in the hotel tonight, and they’ll show us a side of India we’ve never seen. He tries to entice us with offers of drugs, prostitutes, and more alcohol. Anything we want, and he will get it for us. We tell him we’re not interested in his propositions, and respectfully thanked him, again and again. We say we’re not going back back to the states, because we’re headed to Vietnam next. He talks with his friends, and says they also have a contact in Vietnam, and we can travel their instead. After 20–30 minutes of him propositioning us in every conceivable way, and our continued declines, they finally ease up. We continue talking, and they say regardless of whether we will transport the jewelry, we can still hitch a ride with them down to Mumbai. In hopes of getting out of this situation, we agree to riding with them, but will have to meet at our guest house the following day as we still have our bags.

Finally we’re able to leave the rooftop, and take a rickshaw back to the guest house we stayed at. Both Greg and I are pretty damn intimidated at this point, a mixture of nerves, adrenaline, and relief. Clearly we weren’t going to hitchhike with our “friends” at this point. The guest house was sold out for the night, but we didn’t want to leave the area, so we camped on the roof in sleeping bags. The next morning, we booked a flight out of Jaipur, ordered a taxi to pick us up directly at the guest house, and got out of there.
#238
That article was also very interesting to read...but honestly as advanced as this scam is, you have to wonder how you don't do some research yourself before participating. Not to mention it's about jewelry...red flag alert! Lol
#525
Okay I think I am gonna take the cake here coz I am by far the queen of travel fails lol. I have had all sorts of travel misadventures from lost money to being pick pocketed with 0 bucks. Here are few of my worst travel fails -

1. Bike accident in Laos and I ended up traveling back home in a wheelchair (provided by airlines) - urrgghh
2. A recent surgery didn't heal well and a stitch in my neck opened in Sri Lanka - was rushed to emergency in an auto rickshaw.
3. Lost all money and even my card in Bali
4. Got sloshed and lost my way back to my couchsurfers house in Laos

Sigh.. and maybe 10 more or so.
#794
I'm in the capital of Cambodia and meet a nice girl in a bar. We hang out for a few days and then decide to go to a seaside town for a week to party for New Years. We arrive and check in to a nice little hotel with a stunning pool. After a day or two we go on a day trip in a boat to some nearby islands. The boat is small and completely overloaded with the roof covered in tourists sunbathing and the inside full of people also. We leave the harbour in high spirits, it's a beautiful day and everyone is having a nice time. My friend has bought another of her friends along with her so there are three of us.

Once we reach the open water the waves get larger and the wind much stronger. Everyone on board becomes very very seasick, except myself as I'm standing and moving my legs to counteract the movement of the boat. There is vomiting, people moaning "why did we do this??!" and lots of sad faces. The waves continue to get bigger and the boat starts to surf down the sides of each swell, with the driver turning the direction of the boat each time in order to surf safely. A sort of rolling twisting motion. The roof remains full of tourists, ensuring our top-heavy-ness.

An especially large wave combined with the driver misjudging the direction tilts the boat heavily over onto it's side and water comes pouring in. Cargo that is (all unsecured, naturally) on the deck violently slides towards the water, the engine stops and everyone is screaming. I was certain we were about to capsize, far from land. Fortunately the wave passed, the boat returned to normal and nothing bad happened. Shaken, I put on a life jacket. No one else did, maybe they were too sick to move.

About 45 minutes later we arrive at our destination, a beautiful beach with the finest whitest sand I've ever seen. After that ordeal it felt like heaven. I'm not very sick so I have lunch.

After lunch the boat is leaving to continue the journey but I refuse to go onto it until the weather improves. The girls want to get back to the city and decide to go with the boat so we part ways. The beach is practically undeveloped so it is very peaceful. I find a bamboo bungalow on the beach and check in for the night. It's then that I realise that all my stuff (laptop, credit cards, etc) are at the hotel and the girl of questionable morals that I've known for a week is there. She could disappear and I'll be in the middle of nowhere with no way to do my job, a hotel bill that's due and no way to pay for a trip back to the capital. The paranoia sets in. I resign myself to the possibility of very dark things. Acceptance of nothingness. Hmmm.

The next day I get a ferry back to the mainland and we are happily reunited. All is well. We have a few friends over and have a couple of drinks beside the pool, get a little rowdy and suddenly get kicked out of the hotel (no warning was given just "the police are coming, you cunts, get the fuck out now") so we drive around drunk in the dark with 3 people on each motorbike until we find a new one. Driving in Cambodia is scary as shit when you're sober, imagine this situation. The old hotel is in a part of town with no other hotels so we have no other choice.

The new hotel is a palace and right next to the main party beach where New Years is kicking off. There are fireworks shooting up constantly along the entire 2 km length of the beach and it goes for hours. We dance and have a great night.

Good times but scary times mixed in there.
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