Some Travel Woes in Santiago de Chile

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For the past week, I have been in Santiago de Chile. I have been here two times previously for two to three days at a time.  And I really like the city. It is different from the other big cities of South America such as Buenos Aires, Lima, or Sao Paulo.

Santiago de Chile Skyline From the Grand Hyatt Hotel
Santiago de Chile Skyline From the Grand Hyatt Hotel

I don’t normally write trip reports of the cities that I visit, but do review the hotels. I have written few travel tips in the past about the taxis and what do when you get sick while traveling.

So far I have had couple unpleasant instances here in Santiago.

1. Taxi demanding double the agreed fare

I had a day trip from Santiago to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Next time, I need to spend couple of days at each of them.

Street in Valparaiso
Street in Valparaiso

Most of the buses back to Santiago on a Sunday night were sold out and only one of the last ones still had seats available. This resulted rather late arrival to the city when the metro was already closed. As I was travelling with a Spanish-speaking friend, he negotiated a fare to the hotel of 10K CLP ($20). The taxi didn’t want to use a meter, but I thought that this would be within couple of pesos of the metered fare so I accepted it.

My friend was living along the route back to the Hyatt so we dropped him off first. Then, after getting to the Hyatt, he was demanding double the fare that we had agreed to. The driver got really verbal and was trying to prevent me from leaving the taxi. I just left him with the price that we had agreed upon starting the trip and told the hotel security to get rid of him.

This wasn’t very nice but I would imagine that the drivers do to get away with a behavior like this and excess demands from most of the non-local passengers. So, it is, unfortunately, profitable behavior for them.

 2. Mobile phone snatched on a way back to hotel

The nightlife is pretty good and starts late here in Santiago. We went to have drinks quite late on a Tuesday night and were walking back to the Crowne Plaza hotel in the center of Santiago. I had my Samsung Nexus S in my pocket and decided to check something using it. Suddenly a guy runs past and just snatches the phone.

Bar In Barrio Bellavista Santiago de Chile
Bar In Barrio Bellavista Santiago de Chile

He was quite a fast runner and we were not able to catch him. This was the first time of all my travels that someone just steals something from me on the street.

I have a travel insurance that covers situation like this. So, yesterday afternoon I went to a police station to have a report filed and to get a copy of it for insurance purposes. There were some others there who had had their laptop stolen.

Luckily, I only lost a phone that was close to 20 months old and needed to be replaced anyway. I had been waiting for it to break down or me mistakenly leaving it somewhere. It didn’t come to my mind that I would lose it this way, however. I had a look at the phones that were available here in Santiago but the prices were very high. Probably need to wait until I am back in Bangkok next week before buying a new one.

Conclusion

Theft and taxi problems that I have encountered are quite rare considering the amount of traveling that I do. When they do occur, you just need to consider it the price of traveling.

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