Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tourist guide: How to stay vigilant

+Travel Army 
The tour guide boasts as he informed us during a road trip that the Dubai International Airport has now surpassed Heathrow as the busiest in the world. He also talked about the high safety profile in the city. A point I silently agreed with based on a YouTube video I saw of a Caucasian with a secret cam who pretended to drop his wallet by mistake in the streets of Dubai, and each time for over two hundred times, somebody called his attention to return the wallet.
Dubai is perhaps one of the most cosmopolitan cities I've come across.. Indians, Bengalis, Filipinos, Chinese, Pakistanis, Sudanese, Africans, Arabs and endless number of Europeans and Americans.

You can move around and with these vast mix of complete strangers while feeling safe from harm or molestation.
However I was saddened and appalled when saying goodbye to the city, I forgot my backpack in the taxi that dropped me off at the airport. It was right beside him in the front seat where I sat. This is Dubai I told myself, he'll return it. So I waited at Terminal 3 where he dropped me off confident he would turn around to return it as soon as he saw it.

After two and a half hours of waiting, running late for my flight and reporting to the airport police and calling the rta (dubai road transport authority), I had fears I might not find my bag again.
I have still not found my bag, I had my laptop and a tablet and other stuffs in it.
How to stay vigilant:
1. As much as possible, use the certified or authorized and registered state taxi. I did.

2. Take a second to take a glance or stare or snap the taxi number or plate number before getting in. (note: Taxi number and car plate number are different) The  rta asked if I knew any of these numbers, it would have been easy to track him. All I know is its a Toyota Camry.

3. Try and engage the taxi driver in a talk, a simple greeting is fine. I'm not asking you to go all chatting-chatting. This gives you an opportunity to see his face and make an impression of it on your mind. My taxi driver was quiet, clean shave, in his 30's, not Arab, not Caucasian, not black. I don't want to mention where I think he's from before you people accuse me of racial profiling.

4. An airport security asked me "did you collect a printed fare receipt from the taxi?"  this would have had the taxi details. I didn't even know they issue receipts. Most of these drivers don't issue it.
5. Preferably, ask the hotel you're checking out from to get you a taxi, they would usually know them. My hotel actually got the taxi for me, but I was there when they just waved him down off the street.

6. This is probably not exclusive and you guys might disagree, but I think the more Elderly Taxi drivers have more conscience.

7. In this case, speaking exclusively for Dubai Airport, Terminal 3: ask to be dropped off at the entrance of the Terminal. This area is covered by the airport security street camera. The police could not locate the driver on security cameras because he dropped me off on the No Parking, temporary road stop outside the security camera coverage. (most of them do)

8. Always install security on your devices. Many of them have tracking apps in case of loss or theft. My tab was new, still in the pack, I wish I had installed a security app. When you buy a tab or smart phone, make it first priority to install security, or activate a pre-installed one. You just can never tell.
Any other ideas on how to stay vigilant as a tourist ? Please share.
The taxi driver did not report my bag to the authority, he didn't report to the rta, nor to the police, nor to the hotel where he picked me from.

What do you call a taxi driver like that?

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