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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia forum

Sometimes it is worth listening to travel agents

Posted by amnicoll on 14/9/2015 at 10:13

well worth reading this article from the T/F newsletter as us veteran (or experienced) travelers are so used to ignoring such advise like this or when we are told that the guesthouse/site is closed expecting a scam that sometimes it pays to listen

#1 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by daawgon on 14/9/2015 at 13:38

Travel agents in SE Asia can be invaluable, in my experience. In Vietnam, for instance (a country known for terrible drivers) I once complained to my agent about the driver he gave me, and the result is that now every driver he gives me is really excellent. I was starting to get paranoid about road travel there.

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159

Posted by Gogomobile on 14/9/2015 at 19:28

Local agents are worth listening too. It is foreign ones that have limited knowledge unless they have personally been to the country several times.

#3 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by somtam2000 on 14/9/2015 at 22:04 admin

Thanks! I meant to post this here last night but forgot.

Here's the full piece for those not getting the newsletter (you can sign up here):

This morning, along with a few friends, I went for a wander in Penang National Park. As we reached the park entrance, a salesperson in a travel kiosk by the entrance waved us over and suggested that we go to Monkey Beach and book a return boat through her for 40 ringgit. We said we wanted to go to Turtle Beach as we'd been told it was less developed.

"Oh," she said. "Turtle Beach is not very good this time of year. You can't swim in it because of jellyfish." The two beaches are a couple of kilometres apart, so I was reluctant to believe this. But before I could say anything, she added, "But, if you want, I can arrange for a boat to pick you up there. Just tell me the time and I'll arrange it. 80 ringgit and you can stop at Monkey Beach on the way back."

We briefly conferred. None of us had been to either beach before, but we were sceptical. Surely there would be jellyfish everywhere? And how hard would it be to get a boat back? We politely declined and were off on our way.

Turtle Beach was of course, full of jellyfish, and there were no boats in the offing for the trip back. Not wanting to walk out again (it is about a two-hour walk through the jungle each way), we waited for an hour. When no boats showed up, one of our number humbly went and asked after a boat.

"No boat, man! You pay, I call, 100 ringgit!"

We didn't see Turtle Beach at its best, thanks to Sumatran smoke (that's another rant), a thunderstorm, jellyfish and a semi-closed turtle sanctuary. But I would also say that in non-haze, non-jellyfish, dry season, between 10:00 and midday or 14:00 and 16:00, it would be quite nice.

Twenty minutes later we were skating past Monkey Beach -- no stopping, because that wasn't included in our special call-in price. Back at the bus station, we got talking to a travelling family -- they loved Monkey beach and the swimming there was good!

So don't assume all travel agents are there to scrape a hefty margin and talk up whatever they can. Some are just there to help, genuinely hoping to help you see a better time. Lesson -- again -- learned.

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by Gogomobile on 15/9/2015 at 01:40

Rather strange to ignore advice and assume they are skimming you. You cant read body language give aways?

#5 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by amnicoll on 15/9/2015 at 03:57

I think that very often we simply have our defenses up and this is not just with travel agents but with all contacts where they might be scamming/or what ever and so we reject the advise offered. You only need to read through posts here and elsewhere to see stories of travelers who have fallen foul and sufferered

For instance the taxi driver tells you the hotel is closed - do you believe him or is he just wanting to take you to a hotel where he gets commission,The travel agent tries to sell you another trip because he makes more money and so on

I am not saying we ignore all advise but I certainly recognise the scenario in the newsletter

#6 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by somtam2000 on 15/9/2015 at 04:27 admin

@amnicoll Yup, exactly. I've been given extremely bad advice by plenty of travel agents over the years. It need not be a case of skimming, it can just be bad or not suitable for me advice. In this case of course, it was good advice and we should have listened!

#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by Gogomobile on 15/9/2015 at 05:56

A travel agent selling a $10 return boat trip isnt making much money at all.

An agent promoting a $200 tour over a $50 one, yeah it might pay to be cautious and not believe everything being said.

Chalk and cheese.

#8 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by amnicoll on 15/9/2015 at 06:41

An agent gets for a $10 trip 20% commission from one and 10% from the other............

#9 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by Gogomobile on 15/9/2015 at 07:30

Wow $2.

#10 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by amnicoll on 16/9/2015 at 04:42

I was just using simple maths to illustrate but do not forget that $2 is a lot for many locals

#11 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by Gogomobile on 16/9/2015 at 06:17

Call CNN and report this outrageous ripoff. How dare they make $2 on a sale.

#12 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412


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