Be warned: The post is filled with beautiful language I used for comedic purpose. Please do not get offended by it.
I was born in Thailand, a third world country filled with scam geniuses and con artists. Throughout the years, I have seen foreigners got ripped off by the locals in the most creative ways imaginable. Last month, I went to Egypt, the country well known for these types of things and I thought I was prepared (especially after my trip in Vietnam). Oh, how I was wrong.
Egypt tourism has suffered a blow after the revolution in 2011. The number of tourists is down more than 70%. You would think that the scam situation would improved but instead, it got worst. These fuckers became more aggressive, desperately trying to squeeze every penny out of whatever living things that are in front of them. It was like, the first thing they thought about in the morning was:
“Um.. today I am going to scam some poor souls because I need money more than they do”.
I have never seen these types of scam before and I would like to share with you a few tips I used to avoid these blood sucking scammers.
1. Reject them with Confidence
Scammers are like flies. When they spot tourists, they will be all over them like flies on shit. A firm “no” and a smile are more than enough to drive them away since there are other poor souls out there for them to rip off, but if you started to be indecisive or just ignore them without saying anything, they will stick to you like a blood sucking leech until they get something and by that time, it will already be too late. They have invested more than 5 seconds of their valuable time and they WILL be determined to get something from you.
2. Don’t make eye contact
If you spot a scammer before they do (which is unlikely), don’t make eye contact. In their language, it means that you give them a permission to harrassed you for the rest of your life. If it is too late and they approach you, follow the first tip above.
3. Don’t trust locals who speak perfect english
If you see someone approaching you and they started to greet you in perfect english, I bet your ass you will be scammed in a few minutes. One thing I learned from Egypt is that the locals who speak little to no English are the most genuine and helpful people whereas the others who speak perfect english and seems to be helpful at first will likely scam the hell out of you.
4. “I can no speak england”
As an Asian, I find this to be useful most of the time. Pretend like you don’t speak english and they will find other poor souls to harrass. Communication is how they lubricate their ways into your wallet and without that, they can not do anything.
5. Put on your headphones
I like putting my headphone on and listen to music when I walk around in a city and I found that I was less harrassed by scammers because of that. When someone approach you trying to sell you stuff, just point to your headphone and they will bother you no more.
6. When in doubt, start climbing
Be it a stairs or a hill, start climbing and they will not follow you. Scammers are lazy as fuck.. that is why they scam people for a living in the first place.
When I was in Egypt, me and a couple of friends decided to climb a sand dune to watch a sunset over Aswan. We found a nice ruin at the top and we asked a few people if we could go up there. The answers were mixed. Some say, we had to pay to go into the temple area to get to the top, some say they are no boat going in and out of the island that late and we have to hire a personal feluca. Naturally all of these claims were false and so we took a local boat to the dune and started climbing from the other side (without going through the temple area). A few people (definitely not the authorities) started to shout at us in Arabic but we continued the climb anyway. They gave up after 5 minutes. They were not even waiting for us at the bottom.
When you can’t seem to shake these people off, try climbing a stairs or anything you could find that requires physical effort, and I guarantee you, they will not follow. Unless they have a camel and they decided to chase you with it. If that is the case then I’m afraid, you are screwed.
7. Don’t trust people who hang out with officials
Everyone got scammed at the Giza pyramids. First thing people do when they landed in Cairo is to go see the pyramids without knowing anything. I was among one of them.
It was my first morning in Cairo and I managed to get a metered taxi to the pyramids. All went well until the taxi dropped me off at the wrong entrance and I was left with the officials and a few other locals. One guy among the officials approached and told me that I have to go to another entrance which is quite far away. He offered to walk me to the other entrance. I was young and stupid then so I accepted the offer like an amateur. In my defence, I did not know any better because I did not know where the entrance actually was and he was among those officials so I trusted him. He got me in and wanted to guide me around, I realized then that he is a scammer so I tell him to leave me alone. He would not, and I ended up paying him 300 EGP to get him out of my face. That is the price I paid for being stupid. From that day on, my daily goal was to not get scammed by these devil spawns.
So the lesson is, DO NOT trust people even if they seems to be acquainted with authorities.
8. Always agree on the price first
Whatever you do, do not accept their offers before both parties agree on the price. Even if they say shit like “just come on the feluca first” or “just sit on the taxi first”. They will fucking scam you into oblivion and won’t let you go until you pay them and maybe donate them your kidneys.
If you do get scammed..
Do not take it too seriously. Everyone got scammed no matter how smart we think we are. The most important thing is your safety and if things get sketchy, just pay it and save yourself. Money is replaceable, your life is not. The point of this post is for you to learn how to avoid putting yourself in sketchy situation and help you enjoy the country more.
I love Egypt. It was awesome seeing all the ancient ruins and interacting with the locals (the good ones). The purpose of this post is not to discourage you to visit Egypt or any other countries that are known for scams, but to help you understand the reality and show you how you could avoid those unfortunate situations and still have a great time.
Looking for more inspirational articles? Check out The Solo Traveler’s Inspiration section where we will discuss topics related to the nomadic and traveling lifestyle and shower-thoughts that will invoke wanderlust in all of us.
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