kerala backwaters

Feb 24th, 2005, 10:21 AM
  #1  
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kerala backwaters

readers should be very careful in their dealings with TOURINDIA(p)ltd,trivandrum,kerala.Make sure you by credit card only.Also check the facilities on their boats and price.Their boats are bad and cost is more than double the going rate.You need air conditioning for sure in Kerala thru out the year and their boats lack a/c.We found them to be unethical and unprofessional.
raichand is offline  
Feb 24th, 2005, 02:27 PM
  #2  
 
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raichand, what time of year were you there? We were there in October, and, while it was VERY humid, we certainly didn't need air-conditioning.... in fact, I would have been horrified to have been stuck inside an air-conditioned boat, as that would have prevented us from really EXPERIENCING the environment. Our boat didn't even have a roof!

How much did you pay, and what is "the going rate"? Apart from the fact that you feel you were overcharged, in what other ways were they "unethical and unprofessional"? I really think that when you make a charge like this you should spell out the details. Were the boats "bad" in other ways except for the lack of air-conditioning?
Alan is offline  
Feb 25th, 2005, 04:13 AM
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Raichand?
Alan is offline  
Feb 25th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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I agree with Alan in that the backwaters of Kerala are best enjoyed on the open deck of the houseboat. Having said that, the nights can be humid at times and it might not be very pleasant to be stuck inside the small rooms that most of these boats have to offer. However, I found that things were much better once I left the window on the side open. I travelled in September in a non A/C boat and found the experience good enough to have considered a second trip within a month. September is off season, although the climate is generally quite good, while October to March is peak tourist season, and all room rates and boat tariffs are at their peak.
The A/C boats tend to be much more expensive than the non A/C ones. If cost was a factor, then there is no point complaining about non A/C boats.
ayakkadan is offline  
Feb 25th, 2005, 11:06 AM
  #5  
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Alan,nice to hear about your positive and pleasant experience.Let me tell you in detail about our experience.On Feb 3rd,we confirmed with A Mr.Surjeet about the time(11AM) and place to meet the boat.We asked our taxi driver to take us the boat docking area in Thoddapally on Feb 4th at 10.45AM.11 AM came and went and there was no sign of the boat or a rep from TOURINDIA.We waited till 12 noon and there was no sign of the boat.The taxi driver wanted to leave us in the middle of nowhere in the hot sun(there was no building or place to wait and the boat docking area happened to be a "just spot" along an issolated canal).We managed to pursuade him to wait(we had to pay extra Rs 280)a little while longer. At that juncture we had no way of knowing whether the boat from TOURINDIA will ever show up or whatelse to make of our that situation.We had prepaid by cash Rs.18000 to TOURINDIA.We had no choice to wait around.Fortunately, we were able to find a kind hearted person in the nearby village who was good enough to contact TOURINDIA office in Trivandrum to find out what exactly was going on.Mr.Surjeet informed us that the boat should have been waiting for us at 11AM.He said he will find out more and get back to us.We never got a call back from him.After another half an hour of waiting,we contacted TOURINDIA and spoke to Mr.Surjeet again.We told him to cancel the cruise and refund our monies since they had failed to provide services as promised.This time Mr.Sujeet's excuse was that the boat had stopped to pick up groceries and will be there soon.Around 2.30PM a Sreejeet showed up and announced that he is from TOURINDIA and he was going to take care of us.He informed us that boat has just left ALLEPPY and will be here soon.After talking to him we found out that MR.Surjeet at TourIndia was not telling the truth.It appeared that the boat designated for our cruise had been rented out to another group.It appeared that the TOURINDIA was trying to locate another boat
We had waited for several hours by now.While we had carried bottled water with us,we had not carried food with us.It was almost 3PM by now.We had not eaten since 7AM.We were exhausted and hungry.It appeared that we were trapped and we were getting all sorts of fibs from people involved.
Around 3 PM a boat appeared at a distace.Mr.Sreejeet told us that the boat was coming.In anticipation,we picked up our bags and waited for the boat to approach.As we we were getting on the boat,the crew announced that it was not our boat and and would not let us get on board.
Finally,around 4PM a boat showed up and we finally boarded.This boat had a bathroom with a door which would close anda shower which didnot drain.
Most of the day was lost.We were greatly disappointed with the way things had gone so far.After about 45 minutes,the boat stopped for the day.The crew announced that they have to stop for dinner.More to follow.........
P.S:we later checked with reutable boat companies like Soma houseboats(same owners as Somatheeram resort) and found that they charged only Rs.4000 per couple.We had paid more than Rs.8000.

raichand is offline  
Feb 25th, 2005, 06:45 PM
  #6  
 
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Dear Raichand,
I do think that you have a valid reason to be miffed. From what you say, it seems that you've been taken for a ride. Did you get a full 22 hours in the boat at least? Maybe you should try talking to this organisation again, or see if there is any way of lodging a complaint. Since Kerala is a state that takes its tourism seriously, I think there will be options to register complaints against erring travel agencies. I'm not sure which month you went in, but INR 8000 for a day's ride in a non A/C houseboat sounds too expensive. We travelled in September 2004 in a non A/C single bedroom houseboat for INR 3000 [US $65 at present rates]. Of course, these were off season rates. We paid each of the crew INR 100 at the end of the tour, not because it was mandatory, but because they were very friendly and helpful thruout. Our trip was arranged by a travel agency based in Basoto Lodge, Press CLub Road, Ernakulam [Kochi]. They were very nice to deal with.
ayakkadan is offline  
Feb 26th, 2005, 02:49 AM
  #7  
 
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Yes, Raichand, you have every right to complain... that's a really poor show, and I think tourindia should have refunded at least half your money. You say you paid in advance -- did you pay your hotel, ot a tourist office, or where, exactly? That's the place to go with your litany nof (very reasonable) complaints. Actually, the lack of air-conditioning pales beside the other problems you had, doesn't it?

With our tour, we paid the hotel, and were picked up from the hotel by the tourist company vehicle, so we had someone to look after our interest, so to speak. I confess I feel rather sorry for your taxi driver, delivering you to the back of beyond and not knowing whether he should leave you, or stay with you, maybe for hours or even all day!However, I bet he dined out on the story for days afterwards!

Hope the rest of your India experiences were more positive! Meanwhile, I will enjoy hearing the next instalment of this saga!
Alan is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 01:08 PM
  #8  
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Alan and Ayakkadam,
I took your advice and sent another e-mail to TOURINDIA.So far no reply.I am not surprised.If they were responsive and cared about American tourists,they would have responded to the several phone calls and e-mails I sent them while I was in India.After returning home on the 16th,I have sent them 3 e-mails.So far no reply.
I had made arrangements thru a travel agency in Mumbai.For some reason the travel agency would not take my creditcard as payment for the various resorts and airline tickets for our travel in India.They also would not forward the credit card info to the airlin or the resorts.We had to cash our TCs and pay them in Indian currency.Fortunately,rest of the travel was trouble free.Back to the TOURINDIA saga..............
We learnt lot of things about TOURINDIA and their practices by interacing with the crew.Over the period of two days we found that several things they had told us were not rue.Originally they were supposed to have picked us up near Kollam.Later they claimed that due to Tsunami,they will not be able to pick us up at Kollam.They suggested Todapally as the pick up point.Of course,that was not the truth.Other peole were able to board their boats just north of Kollam. TOURINDIA was telling lies after lies.
So the whole day(Feb 4th) was lost.The boat crew decided to stop at 5.30PM.We hadly had cruised for about 45 minutes.Because of what had happened earlier during the day,we had lost our enthusiasm for the trip and we were very disappointed with the way TOURINDIA had behaved.I made our guide Sreejeet aware our feelings.He assured us that the resident manager at their Alleppy office will come to meet us when we reach Alleppy next day.
We finally were able to get some food at dinnertime.The bathroom door was jammed and would not close.The shower base kept getting full and the water overflowed on to the bathroom floor after a shower.Fortunately the water water seeped thru the floor into the canal and did'nt flood the bedroom.After dinner,we went to bed.It was a hot and humid night with no breeze. Air-conditioning would have been nice.
We woke up early in the morning.People were "walking"over the roof of our bedroom!!! We investigated and found that the crew who slept in the front part of the boat,had to walk over the ceiling/roof of our bedroom to reach their bathroom in the back of the boat.So much for privacy on the boat.
Around 10 AM we reached land.We called TOUINDIA's office in Trivandrum.It was weekend.The manager was not available.We were given the mobile phone number of a Mr.Thomas.It turned out that he was in charge of the the boat operations.After listening to our saga,he said that that his manager in Alleppy "MR DAS" will meet with us that evening.
Since we had missed a full day's cruising we were hoping to start early.However the crew had their own plans.We saw no point in arguing
That day we started our criuse around 9.30AM.Stopped for sightseeing at 10AM.We took the oppotunuity to call TourIndia.Boarded the boat again at 12noon.The boat stopped for lunch around 1PM.The crew took a 3 hour lunch break!!!Siesta was important for them.We resumed cruising at around 4PM and reached Alleppy by 5PM.Not much sightseeing or cruising done on the second day.We saw no point in saying much;the crew was doing what they pleased.When we had booked the cruise,we were assured that the crew will take you "where you want and when you want".Originally we were supposed have boarded the boat near Kollam.We were told later that because of Tsunami,we cannot board near Kollam.We later found that that was not true.Other people did board their boatsnorth of Kollam.We had originally booked a two night torip because we wanted to travel north from Kollam to Alleppy.
Waited for Mr Das who never showed up.Around 6PM I called Mr.Thomas.He said that Mr.Das will come to meet us in the morning when we check out.
By now it was obvious that our tour guide Sreejeet,Mr Das and Mr Thomas were playing games.They didnot have any intentions of addressing our grievances.They were simply providing lip service to buy time.There was not much we could do,except to wait for the morning.
On the second day we had hardly cruised for 3 1/2hours.We were totally disuisted and disappointed with our experience.While I would admit that the backwters have great scenery and worth visiting,our experience would be more fulfilling and memorable if we had used a more honest tour operator.
We dropped anchor around 5PM near the Finishing point in Alleppy and stayed there till next morning.We got off the boat at 9Am.We had almost 4 hours of cruising and covered 14 miles over 2 days!!
Evening came and went,Mr Das never came;we knew for sure that he would not come.It's unfortunate that we cannot do anything to get our moneys' worth.While things can go wrong anywhere,it is matter of owning up and doing something about it.If TOURINDIA would have been honest and upfront about why they were late and offered sincere apology,we would not be wrting or even thinking of this eoisode.their unprofessional attitude has left very unpleasant meories.
My only reason to use this forum to air the frustations is to make people aware about possible pitfalls of dealings in a foriegn land.Paying by CREDITCARD is always a good idea and dealing with a good tour operator/agent will lessen the chanches of disappointment.Beware,there is NO authority/association/body to complain to.People like TOURINDIA know that THE TOURISTS are them for a day or two and there is nothing they can do if they donot provide the services.DONOT PREPAY BY CASH.In USA,we are used to a certain level of service and professinalism,which is lacking
After we got off the boat,I called TOURINDIA and spoke MR Thomas and told him that Mr DAS who was supposed to have met us to address our concers never showed up.Mr.Thomas said that he is Cochin.He will come down to meet us at our next stop--Marari Beach Resort.We waited for whole day-----Mr Thomas never showed up;not even to bother to call.he has not responded to all our subsequent e-mails.We are still waiting.............
Instead of looking back at pleasant memories of our vacation,it's a pity that one is sitting near the computer,writing about the unpleasant and bitter experience........
raichand is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:45 AM
  #9  
 
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Raichand, this story really needs to be told.... there are so many lessons in it for the naive traveller, like myself. I think you should cut and paste everything you have written and post it on the site www.indiamike.com. There's nothing there BUT people wqho either live in India or are heading to India. Maybe you will save one of them a horrendous experience. Maybe someone on the forum will have heard of Tourindia and may be able to add something that will help either you or others.

Hope you have better luck next holiday... one experience like that is enough!
Alan is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:51 AM
  #10  
 
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Me, again!

I decided to have a look at indiamike to see if I could find a reference to Tourindia... no luck, but there are a few other people on the forum who've had bad experiences with tour operators, and one bit of advice was given to one of them that may be applicable in your case. Here it is as a cut-and-paste, with thanks to the original author:

Many travel agencies are registered with the Department of tourism.. If the one you used is ...(I think this would mentioned on their letter head or other stationery.) then perhaps you could write a letter of complaint to them.

tourisminindia.com or tourismofindia.com both are the official website of the Ministry of Tourism. Look around to see if you find a feedback link.. though personally I think the best would be to send them a letter by post (or even by registered post )
Alan is offline  

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