Touts are everywhere. They are in the train stations, the bus stations and on street corners. They are unavoidable and like vultures they swoop and prey on foreign travelers. They are vicious and relentless and will stop at nothing to get your money. Here are a few stories:
Our worst experience with touts was in the desert city of Jaisalmer. As soon as the bus was inside the city limits the touts started jumping on the bus, hustling their hotels and guesthouses, shoving old business cards at us. By the time we were at the "station" there were already about 15 touts harassing us. As we stepped off the bus 30 men wrapped in old blankets and waving ratty business cards swarmed round us like flies. They blocked us around the bus and relentlessly began shouting at us. We grabbed our packs and tried to shove our way through the mass. Mom finally reeled around, screaming at them and knocking people over with her pack. We shoved our way out and hiked to the RTDC (Rajasthani Tourism Development Council) Hotel.
Another story an Australian women we met told us was about how they had actually been held hostage at one of the train stations by a greedy taxi driver. They were trying to find a cab to their guest house when one of the drivers blocked the exit from the station and refused to let them go if they didn't ride with him at his price. They knew from experience that the trip should only cost 45 rupees, but he was asking 250. They tried to negotiate with other cab drivers, but this one wouldn't let anyone near them. In the end the driver took them to their guest house for the appropriate amount, but only after three hours of haggling!
Another traveling family had been suckered into a tout's office after he flashed them a "government ID." They were tricked into buying a package deal for a 14 day tour, that ate up over half of their entire traveling budget. Their original plan had been smashed when the touts pretended to call hotels and then tell the family that they were all full.