I Baht it in Bangkok


As I previously posted, I just got back from a two week long excursion in Thailand with a good friend.  Our first day in Bangkok, we were very excited, and had mapped out a few things to do for the day.  First on the list was to find some breakfast, then we wanted to go to this snake farm and then head over to this park that was near the hostel.  We had our maps, our good walking shoes, and were on our way.

We found a cute coffee shop to eat breakfast in, it was just across this major street from where we had been walking.  Now, traffic in Bangkok is crazy, I mean crazy.  First, as in many other countries, they drive on the opposite side of the road, which means you have to train yourself you look the OTHER direction to see if a car or a moped is going to come and smush you.  Also, there aren’t a lot of traffic rules in Bangkok and people just drive whenever they want, so waiting for the light to change is not really an effective option.  Our solution?  Wait for a local to cross, and then follow them 🙂  So, this man was going to cross the street, when he looked and saw we were obviously foreigners and offered assistance.  He seemed so nice, telling us that many visitors get hit by cars and that we should just wait for him and he would guide us.  We thought, ‘ahh, the kindness of strangers…”  He then went on to explain he used to work in New York and loved the US and asked us what our plans were for the day.  He showed us a few places we might want to check out on the map, we thanked him, and then went to eat our breakfast.

It just so happened, the very same time we were leaving the coffee shop, our kind stranger emerged again.  He asked us where we were headed, and we told him the snake show.  He said he would get a tuk tuk for us and arrange the price with the driver, so we wouldn’t pay too much.  When the tuk tuk, which is a kind of motorcyle taxi arrived, the nice man informed us that the snake show didn’t open until 1pm.  We said that was fine that we would just go to the park first, and then the snake show.  He then informed us that the park was closed for cleaning until the afternoon, which is when we should’ve become suspicious.  Oh well, we thought.  The ‘nice’ man arranged for the tuk tuk driver to take us to a few places in the meantime that he thought “we would really enjoy.”

This, my friends is THE SCAM.  Tuk tuk drivers will tell you that whatever place you want to go to is closed, and that they will take you around shopping ‘in the meantime’ for a ridiculously low fare.  We of course, fell for this scam hook line and sinker.  See the other part is, they take you to ridiculously over priced shops where, unbeknownst to us, they receive meal vouchers if you buy something.

Our first stop on the ripoff express was a beautiful jewelry shop.  They actually made the jewelry right there and you could watch the jewelers while they worked.  Then, came the shop.  We had no idea Thailand was known for its gemstones, but this place was crazy sparkly!  They had so many beautiful things, we couldn’t stop looking at everything.  Of course, we know we can’t afford fancy jewelry, but there was one section of lower end items, that were made of silver and other stones that were actually quite affordable.  I bought a cute pink sapphire ring, and my friend bought a nice blue topaz ring.  Her ring was like thirty bucks, and mine was just a little more than that.  We were both so excited at our purchases!  We thought, thirty bucks! dude, thats so cheap! Of course, we later found out that we could’ve gotten the same ring for like a quarter of the price.  Oh well…

The next stop on the sucker-mobile was a clothing store.  Now, this was not just a store that you buy clothes.  This shop will custom make clothing for you, whatever you want, suits, dresses, blouses, anything.  We had read and knew that it was pretty inexpensive to have nice clothing made for you in Thailand and were thinking of doing it anyway, when our Tuk Tuk driver brought us to a nice place called City Shop.   We both had some clothing made.  My friend had a suit made, and I a beautiful silk dress.  Thailand is known for its silk, so I thought this was a good chance to do something extravagent for myself.

We left the shop knowing we had spent more than we wanted to, but that we still got a pretty decent deal, compared to US prices.  Our feelings of excitement over our new items were quickly smashed when we got back to the hostel and learned that we’d just been had.  We were not the only ones however, it seemed everyone we talked to fell for the same thing their first day.  Oh well.  I still love my ring and dress, and wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Word to the wise though, public parks don’t usually close 🙂

There is a second part to this story that I will tell in my next entry, so as they say on tv, ‘to be continued…’


4 Responses to “I Baht it in Bangkok”

  1. KittyCat Says:

    We thought of going to Bangkok for a family holiday but wonder if you all saw the protests going on at Government House? If the city’s at all unsafe, I don’t want to risk bringing my toddler there. Will appreciate your feedback! Thanks 🙂

  2. colleen Says:

    I felt perfectly safe the whole time I was there. My friend and I were in Koh Samui, (another city in Thailand) at the time the protests began and we were a bit concerned as well. However, we had no problems and didn’t see any demonstrations. I would definitely check with the US embassy to get their opinion before going however. Also, you could only stay a few days in Bangkok and then travel to other locations in Thailand relatively easily and inexpensively. Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Kelly Says:

    For some reason, I’m flashing to ANTM.

    and by the way, I MISS YOU!!!

  4. gaussling Says:

    I’ve had the same tuk tuk ride. Did the driver ask you for gas money? We were picked up outside the Grand Temple. It is a major hustle there.

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