LUXOR TRAIN STATION – Not for the Faint-Hearted!
Luxor Train Station can be a nightmare for new arrivals. The touts are inside and outside the train station trying every possible means to divert people to hotels and accommodations in Luxor where they are given commission. A lady coming to stay at Mara House once told me that, having tried several times to get the taxi man to bring her to me, it was only when she said “I am a police woman and I am here to meet with some friends in the police whom I met in England so if you don’t take me to where I want to go RIGHT NOW I will call one of them!” It then took the taxi driver about 7 minutes to deliver her to my door.
5 COMMON TOURIST TRAPS AT LUXOR TRAIN STATION
- One person asks where you are going then a second comes up to you (having been told by the first one where you are going) and gives you the name of your hotel….obviously you think he has been sent for you!
- The line “I have been waiting for you!” To which you might reply “Oh, are you from ___________Hotel?” and off you go!
- “You want hotel? Cheap room, very clean, Just 5 mins down the street!”
- Then there is the “Battle of the Taxis” – as you are surrounded by drivers shouting “Tax! Tax!” (Tax is how the Egyptians say “taxi” )
- When you ask the taxi driver does he know the “___________Hotel” he will always say “Yes, of course, get in, get in!” So, in you get (remember agree the fare first) and the driver starts the engine and off you go. After a couple of seconds the driver usually asks again “where did you want to go?” Then you may be told any of the following:
- It’s closed down
- Had a fire
- Owner may be sick, dead or gone on holidays
- too far away
- “oh you should not go there – they are all thieves and liars there! Bad, bad people”
- last resort may be “So sorry, thought I knew where it was but don’t remember now….
All of the above will be followed by something like “but I have a very very good, cheap, nice, clean hotel….good good hotel – best hotel in Allllll the Luxor – I can show you…if you don’t like it no problem…up to you!”
Well, what are you going to do now……………..?
If you want to avoid this scenario, make direct contact with your hotel or apartment owner in Luxor before you arrive – confirm your arrival and ask to be met at the station.
Egyptian people are always smiling and friendly and for the most part genuinely so, but tourists should keep their heads and use common sense when dealing with anyone working in the tourist industry. If something sounds too good to be true – it generally is!
On your way to your requested accommodation you will undoubtedly (after the first 5 mins of small talk such as what your name is, where you are from etc. – maybe an exchange of family information such as how many children, brothers, sisters etc both you and your driver have – whether you are married, single etc.)……you will undoubtedly be asked where you are going later in the day, tomorrow and the day after.
If you give this information you will then be asked how you are getting there, if you need or have a guide etc. THEN your taxi driver, with whom you are now firm “friends” will offer to take you to the same places for cheaper prices. And he will, to gain your confidence he will go lower than ANY price you give him – (so if you want to have some fun here – you know what to do next!).
You can engage in a game of tag with the taxi or calesh driver over the next few days if you have the speed of thought and energy………being aware that stops for toilets, coffee, welcome drinks, quick stops at his “brother’s” place or invitations to his family home for dinner will most likely put you at some stage, in an Alabaster, Papyrus, Jewellery, Perfume Shop, Bazaar, Coffee Shop or Restaurant where your “Egyptian Friend” will be handsomely paid for delivering you. Go anywhere especially in Luxor or Aswan with a local person and commission is automatically paid to your escort – later.
This is a situation it is very difficult to extricate yourself from because everyone you are introduced to is soooooooo nice! Because most tourists are now aware of this, your “friend” may even be “honest” with you by telling you he is getting maybe 10% commission for helping you shop and he is going to share it with you…….don’t you believe it – he is getting quite a bit more than that!
Last piece of advice – always agree the price BEFORE getting in the taxi (also calesh or felluca), agree the currency and agree that this is the TOTAL amount not per person.