Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Scam

This happened to me the first weekend I got here and I was both to embarrassed and to proud to mention it, but if it prevents one person from falling prey to this then I've done my job.

I was going to have lunch at the Galle face hotel (Yes the same place that made me sick) and was walking in that direction when a friendly man started up a conversation with me.

He said that he has seen me at the Cinnamon Grand hotel but I told him I wasn't staying there, but maybe he had seen me because I visit the food court attached to the hotel. He said that he was on his way to the Elephant Festival, it only happens once a year and everyone was going. He asked if I wanted to go and I thought why not.

He waved for a nearby taxi and we were on the way. Friendly banter the entire way and we ended up at the Buddhist temple, where there is an elephant, but hardly a festivals worth and there was hardly anyone there. My first question, where are the elephants and he talked his way out of that with the present elephant. Next question, lack of people which he explained that people come, pray and leave.

We left and went back and when I asked how much I owed the driver the driver said 1800 Rupees. I haven't paid 1800 Rupees for anything yet. 500 Rupee's will get you to the farthest point in Colombo via tuk tuk. I knew that I had been scammed, I'm sure the driver and tour guide split the fee.

I had a tuk tuk driver take me around today and he treated me to lunch when he told me about the "Elephant festival" scam, even describing where they prey on victims, on the way to Galle Face Hotel.

He also told me that there is in fact an Elephant Festival in Colombo, just not on the day I got scammed! Also they usually try for a larger amount of money, sometimes as much as 20,000 Rupees, if the victim will pay.

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