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Everyone ends up getting scammed eventually and it sucks. In Europe I became very good at picking out the scams and the scam artists pretty quickly. It made me feel a little jaded but at least I was never totally scammed while living in Rome. Once we got to Asia though, it was a whole other ballgame. It seemed the second we stepped off the plane people saw us as targets; most likely this was just my feeling but it was my first impression. It was a little unnerving but after the first day or so I got over it and just started to enjoy our trip.
On the last day of our Southeast Asia trip we were scammed at Batu Caves, the largest Hindi temple in Malaysia, and I was not happy about it. After 18 days in Asia I was finally getting the hang of things. We had managed not to get ripped off too badly by taxis and tuk tuks which is my ultimate pet peeve and overall things were good.
Alex and I decided on our last day to take the train out to Batu Caves which we heard was one of the highlights of visiting Kuala Lumpur. To be honest, we didn’t do much research on Malaysia because we were visiting Christopher and basically were relying on him to show us around. By this point, however, he had gone on to Vietnam and we were on our own.
The train was easy enough to navigate. We took it to the last station and then started looking for the entrance to the caves. All I knew about them were there were a lot of stairs, other than that I was completely ignorant. (So essentially all that happens was my fault) We start to see some giant statues and steps immediately up to our left but as we walk up them I realize that it can’t possible be it as there are no caves.
We walk a little farther and there are more tourists but most people are just milling around. Eventually we came to a place where two people were selling tickets. We kind of hung back for a bit to see if this was the entrance to the caves and we saw a few people go in. So we went for it. I asked the gentleman first if this was the entrance to Batu Caves and he agreed that it was. He also mentioned that the ticket was good for the park as well. So I asked him a few more times for clarification and he kept repeating that yes, this was the entrance and yes, we had to buy a ticket. So we did….
I don’t know how I missed this being a scam. I really don’t. It seems so shady now that I look back on it but hey it happened. We got our wristbands and went in. And it was the weirdest thing ever. There was a bird sanctuary, some cheesy decor and I just got a bad feeling about it all. And of course we circled around, exited and there were no caves in sight…..
Cue angry Ashley.
Asia tested me and I am not going to lie at this point my patience was thin. So I did what any normal non-thinking person would do. I ran back and demanded my money back. I am not going to lie, I was THAT American causing a scene but I was infuriated. Eventually I caused enough of a stink and I was able to get our money back. Not a totally proud moment for me but maybe they will think twice about scamming people next time. It wasn’t just me they scammed either. The place they charged us for was for FREE too so they were just making money off people whose kids wanted to see the birds.
*Unless I am totally wrong and instead of being scammed I was just taken advantage of for being naive…..
Either way we eventually made it a whole minute walk farther to Batu Caves. Now being there I cannot imagine how I fell for the scam. It is HUGE and you cannot miss the 237 stairs to the entrance of the caves and of course you can’t miss the GIANT GOLD STATUE of Murugan, a Hindu deity.
But hopefully for those of you traveling to Kuala Lumpur soon and want to visit Batu Caves you will learn from my lesson. Although most people with an ounce of IQ generally wouldn’t make the mistake I did 🙂 but there you have it. Don’t get scammed and don’t forget that Batu Caves are free but you will have to pay to use the dingy bathroom in the train station.