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17 Costly Scams In Asia You Can Easily Avoid If You Read This

17 Costly Scams In Asia You Can Easily Avoid If You Read This

Expect scams when you travel, and a lot of them. After a six month trip in Asia, I found myself getting ripped off many times. Here are 17 scams and how to avoid getting trapped in one. As much as we all love travelling to exotic places in Asia whether for a gap year, vacation, buisness or even for a honey moon, you should be aware of  what’s waiting for you. Some locals are friendly and very helpful, some just see you as a pile of cash walking. So keep these in mind if you want your trip to go as a breeze without bringing back home any bad souvenirs.

1. The Tea Ceremony Scam

tea ceremony  scam

    You’re walking in people’s square  looking at all the impressive architecture, it’s your second or third day in Shanghai, China, your friends have warned you already that it’s not as safe as you might think, and just when you see everyone has their unfriendly face on, a Chinese girl approaches you and asks you to take a picture of her friends, an exchange of thanks and a strike for small talk, but when you walk away, they ask you to join them on their tea ceremony as they are university students coming to Shanghai from another city.

    Now if you are like me, then this time your curiosity might cause you trouble, the reason being you will accompany them to this nearby tea house, and soon enough you will be tasting different tea samples, before you leave they will pressure you into buying your favorite one, but when the bill comes, it might hit you like a lightning, or you might not even be sure if you’re being scammed or not since you’re not familiar yet with the new currency rates  so you have two options either resist or give in and pay the extravagant part of the bill that would cost you not less than 700 RMB (110USD).

    How to avoid the scam: You decline the offer since the start with a simple no, and never show hesitation so they won’t bother you with more lies trying to convince you.

    2. The Uncertified Guides Scam

    lonely guide in the forbidden city

      While visiting the forbidden city in Beijing, the Grand palace in Bangkok, or Angkor what in Siem reap, you will encounter people asking you if you would like a guided tour, to mess with them ask if it is for free, because if you don’t and you show a curious face you will have a bundle of information that might not even be true costing you a ridiculous amount of money. What you should do instead is head to a tourist information office then ask for an official guide, if you don’t see one then keep note that the real guide would have a flag with a group around him unlike the fake one who only targets individuals.

      How to avoid it: The same rule of thumb applies, decline the offer with a simple no.

      3. The Special Massage Scam

      Nanjing Road Shanghai

        This scam is often performed on solo western-looking men who just happen to be walking on the famous Nanjing road, Shanghai, a local Chinese would try to lure you into following him or her, after they tell you the cheapest price you can imagine for a happy ending massage. Actually this one shouldn’t even be listed among scams because if you fall for it , you’re the one looking for trouble, and trouble you will find my friend. Two or three large men will walk you to an ATM and take all the money you have,either that or you will have a policeman who not only will interrupt your happy time but also extort all your money claiming you’re doing illegal stuff.

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        How to avoid it: Keep walking, a firm no would suffice.

        4.The Student Art Gallery scam

        This one is just another version of the tea house scam. You’ll be approached by people on the street who often claim to be students. They will tell you about their studio and ask if you want to take a look at their paintings. Once inside, with their sales tactics they would pressure you into buying their outrageously overpriced artwork.

        How to avoid it: Tell them you’re in a rush, or that you don’t like art. Or go and check out the art if you want without making any purchase.

        5. The Tuk Tuk Scam

        tuk tuk in bangkok

          You’re taking a walk trying to find something different than what you’ve been seeing in khaossan road, a few blocks away, some local person spots you and approaches you or gestures you to ask you a question, you’re here for the experience and you don’t want to close yourself off and miss every interaction with a seemingly friendly looking Thai so you answer their common questions, they ask you where are you going and they ask you how long have you been in Thailand to see if they can get you in their net, later they would call a tuk tuk to show you three or four different attractions, sounds all good until now and for the few cents you give the driver, you think you’re lucky but that will soon change if you plan all your trip with the travel agency you will have to go in,and even when you don’t, you’ll be forced to check out some stupid suit store where you have to act interested for nothing.

          How to avoid it: As soon as some tuk tuk driver offers you a ride for as cheap as 20 baht or less 1/10 the real price, just ignore him.

          6- The Taxi Ride scam

          taxis in bangkok

            When in touristic places, never catch a taxi right away, walk away from that zone then catch one, you just saved yourself from a rip off, for either they won’t use the meter and give you a fixed price that is double or triple the real one or would use a modified meter that runs faster than normal ones or even take a longer way they call “shortcut” to maximize the fare to your destination.

            Tip: Try getting an idea from someone else of how much the fare would be before taking a taxi.

            7. The Cheap Restaurant Scam

            Naturally, most of the scams happen around famous attractions, this one is quite rare but very dangerous, here is the scenario, a young guy would be trying to enter the Grand palace in Bangkok, around noon a local would approach him and ask him if he wants to try some local food, the traveler declines but the Thai person insists and adds that if he accompanied him to his favorite restaurant he could eat for a cheaper price, with sympathy the traveler approves and later find himself drugged with the worst consequences imaginable, losing all his money, not only what he had on him but also what he has in his bank account. In Malaysia, you might be offered cookies and have the same outcome happen to you.

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            How to avoid it: this is when a very old advice from you mom is good to listen to, don’t accept food from strangers, strangers who approach you and not the other way around.

            8.The Go Go Bar Scam

            bangkok nightlife

              If you want to explore Bangkok deeper and go out at night in places like Silom, the red district of the city, you will have countless people showing you their crazy menus, they would throw words like, ping pong show, no cover.. if you ask any question they would add that you will only pay a beer and enjoy the different shows, once inside and after you’ve seen enough disgusting stuff, though you might lie to yourself that it was worth the beer, you will get up to pay your tab at the counter but only to discover your 60 baht beer turned into a 2000 baht bill, when you shout that it wasn’t what you agreed on with the first guy, they say that watching the show is not included, they may get violent if you show fear or hesitance to leave the place.

              How to avoid it: Act that you’re giving them all the money you got plus what you agreed on of course, then leave immediately.

              9.The Travel Agencies Scam

              I remember talking to a french guy in some van while travelling in Thailand, he had his two week trip all planned out with an eye popping amount of money which included only the transportation and basic accommodation, 30k baht.

              How to avoid it: Never take a deal like that even if they put it as packages and try to convince you that it’s cheaper. believe me it’s not, because a two weeks vacation in Thailand would only cost a person at around 7k baht.

              10. The Border Scam

              Passing through the border from Thailand to Cambodia, you will arrive at an immigration office that won’t accept the 20 dollars official fee even if there it is clearly written on the office wall, they would aim for 40 dollars, and see if you lose patience and give them what they want.

              How to avoid it: Stand your ground, refuse and be patient and repeat to them that you will pay 20 dollars just like it is shown in the Cambodian government website.

              11.The Motorbikes Maintenance Scam

              endless bikes

                When you go to the islands you will rent bikes since it is a very convenient way to travel around, however, even experienced drivers out there have had problems when they would return the bike, either the owner would point out some scratches, new or old, and would charge you for the replacement of damaged parts which cost a fortune sometimes. Your best option if he already got you real passport and having signed some contract is to lower down the price as much as possible.

                How to avoid it: If you wanna avoid this from the start, go to places where the bikes don’t look brand new , preferably a place where they can fix the scratched with no additional fees. if you can’t find it then give them an expired passport or at least a copy of your passport but never the real one so you won’t be trapped in such a messy case.

                12. The International Driver Licence Scam

                In southeast Asia, you might get pulled over driving your bike even if you have your helmet on and driving safely, if this happens you’re looking into some police looking for bribes. they would try to give you a fine if you don’t carry an international driver licence. and would ask you to pay a bribe labeled as a fine.

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                How to avoid it: You need to insist that your driver licence is indeed an international, just repeat that until they let you go. However, That won’t work in Bali,Indonesia, because policemen there have pictures of the real international licences from every country, therefore, you should pretend to be an expat studying or working there, so they know you’re not just passing by and can cause them problems.

                13. The Drug Sellers Scam

                Walking out from your hostel which happen to be close to where all the action happens whether at night or during the day you are going to have locals coming up to you and offering you drugs, always say no because if you don’t you can run into big trouble, BIG TROUBLE, when the transaction is complete, an undercover cop would be just waiting for such a victim and get you to bribe him, we’re talking big money here.

                How to avoid it: Easy, just ignore the temptation, it is not worth jail time and money you don’t even own yourself, there is ways to get drugs but never do it on public.

                14. The Attraction Is Closed Scam

                You have a few hundred meters more to walk to get to the Grand palace in Bangkok when someone asks you, where you are going, you want to be friendly and you answer, the guy at ease tells you that it is closed and adds that you can’t go in shorts, so you naturally feel stupid because you didn’t do your homework, with a disappointed look on your face, he suggests you other attraction options to see, how helpful right, and suddenly you see a tuk tuk waiting for you who will on his turn perform the scam #5 on you.

                How to avoid it: If you don’t see for yourself that the attraction is closed, it is not, Moreover, most famous temples provide extra clothes for visitors if they need to cover anything.

                15. The Short Change Scam

                A taxi ride

                  Since converting the Dong to Dollars is not quite simple, Vietnamese people take advantage of the situation and would shortchange you in money whether it is a taxi, a street seller, a shop or a restaurant.

                  How to avoid it: Never hop on illegal taxis, those guys have countless scams up their sleeve, and remember to take your time counting your change back.

                  16. The V.I.P. Bus Upgrade Scam

                  broken down bus

                    Many people get ripped off In Laos when they pay a VIP bus to take them from town to town, the bus comes but it wouldn’t be VIP or a even sleeper. Bus stations sell VIP tickets after they convince you to go for an upgrade from the basic fare. but they put you on the cheapest one they can get anyway. As a result, you may be standing for hours before you reach your destination, it may even break down in the middle of nowhere and be asked to push it,

                    How to avoid it: ask people who are also buying tickets to buy you a sleeper or buy it with the hostel or hotel you are staying at.

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                    17. The Gem Scam

                    Fake Gem

                      Buy precious stones from Asia and make profit by selling it back home, sounds just like the movies right, the bad news is that those sparkling Gems you bought for no less than 2500 USD is actually fake, and the receipt, money back guarantee and certificate of authenticity can’t get more fake.

                      How to avoid it: If a stranger is convincing to buy valuable stones, just say No.

                      A Note Before You Take Off To Asia

                      With all this in mind, you can now go enjoy the best time of your life, a trip to Asia is what you’ve been dreaming of for quite some time already and it’s time to live the adventure.

                      It goes without saying that, common sense is what’s going to alert you if you’re looking into a scam in action, remember to ask for the price first, and that following a stranger somewhere might turn into the worst souvenir of your whole trip.

                      Travelling to foreign land is risky and if you’re still unsure about taking that decision these three books will convince you that it’s all worth it more that I can.

                      tourist in asia

                        “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”- Ibn Battuta”

                         

                         

                        Featured photo credit: raybay via unsplash.com

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                        Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                        13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                        13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                        Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                        Why is this so critically important to you?

                        The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                        Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                        1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                        Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                        When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                        • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                        • The man facing the judge.
                        • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                        • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                        • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                        • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                        These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                        Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                        Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                        2. Accept Your Fear

                        Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                        We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                        And here’s what can be done.

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                        3. Get Some Perspective

                        I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                        And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                        That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                        We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                        So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                        • Are you really at risk?
                        • Will this kill you?
                        • Which leads us on to..
                        • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                        4. Hold a Hand

                        As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                        Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                        We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                        Ask yourself:

                        • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                        • Could that really happen?
                        • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                        • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                        By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                        5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                        This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                        Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                        The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                        It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                        For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                        Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                        6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                        I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                        Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                        Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                        Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                        Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                        Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                        7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                        Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                        I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                        It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                        One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                        Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                        It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                        8. Assume the Worse

                        If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                        Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                        • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                        • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                        • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                        And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                        When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                        Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                        9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                        If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                        Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                        Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                        10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                        One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                        11. Go with Fear

                        When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                        I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                        Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                        One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                        However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                        We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                        12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                        And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                        The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                        What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                        13. Own Your Fear

                        Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                        We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                        You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                        More Resources About Fighting Fear

                        Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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