Tuk tuk tuk

Yeah, we fell for the common Bangkok scam! It’s hot and humid. We’re trying to find our way around Bangkok on our own, using public transport and Google maps. Google hasn’t let us down yet, even in the alleyways of Venice, and the wilds of Australia. But with the language/script differences, we’re struggling. Temple and street names are spelled slightly differently in each reference article we read. It’s hot and humid (I said that, right?!) I’m tired, but there’s no excuse, I really should have known better!

We met with friends for a couple of days before they left for home, and they took us on the canal boat-bus, so we followed that example, and successfully walked to the stop, got on the right boat, paid the fare, changed boats, got off at the end, where we planned to end up.

taking the boat-bus, Bangkok

We were going to walk to the museum, but it’s hot and humid, so we grabbed a tuk tuk. Dropped off at the museum, reasonable fare. Guard at the gate told us it was closed on Mondays! (thanks for not telling us, tuk tuk man in charge!) Ok, try that another day. So we continued walking, following, although backwards, the suggested walking tour in Travelfish.  Stopped in a cafe to re-hydrate, walked on.  Wandered through the Phra Chan Market and admired the beautiful array of Buddhist amulets and statues available. (photos not allowed because of the religious significance.)

beautiful old locks on a street stall, Bangkok

Back down the alley, walked over to Wat Mahathat, but didn’t stay long.  Trying to work out which direction to walk to get to the Grand Palace, and Wat Phra Kaew, home of the revered Emerald Buddha.

At which point we’re approached by a helpful, slightly officially dressed man in a shirt with badges, and a peaked cap, who tells us he’s security and can he help us. We ask for the Grand Palace, and are promptly told it’s closed because of Buddha Day. It’s hot and humid, we’re tired, and have already been told the national museum is closed, so we believe him. First mistake. He offers us a tuk-tuk to the Standing Buddha temple, and then to a fashion place, and then to another temple, and then back, for 200 baht. That’s about $6US, and we thought ok, at least we get to see a couple of temples, we know the fashion place is a shopping scam, but we figure we won’t fall for that, we’ll just stay two minutes.

Bangkok

Jump in the tuk tuk, driving through the streets, stop at the Standing Buddha temple, Wat Intharawihan, which is actually beautiful. The grounds have many shrines and statues, and it’s peaceful. We wander round, taking a few photos, admiring the Buddha statues, and pictures of past Thai kings. The Standing Buddha itself is truly magnificent, huge, but covered in scaffolding for renovation! Anyway, it’s a good visit, we’re happy so far.

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Wat Intharawihan, Temple of the Standing Buddha, Bangkok

We decide to tell our tuk tuk driver “mai ka shopping” no shopping please. Get back to the tuk tuk, point out the fashion place on the map, and say mai ka shopping. At which point he’s nearly in tears, and I feel like the biggest shit tourist ever! He’s showing us his card to get 5 litres of gas if he takes us there, and telling us about the family back in the village that he supports, and we feel bad. He says we only need to look, 2 minutes, no need to buy, just look. So we agree. Off we go to the shopping place. Turns out to be a “choose your fabric, have clothes tailored place”. It might well be a good place and a fair deal, but we’re not in the market for clothes shopping, we travel light. So we browse quickly, politely resisting all sales talk, figure out we’ve stayed long enough for our driver to get his cut, and go back out.

Driver is not looking too thrilled, but still… so we ask to go back to the Reclining Buddha temple, Wat Pho (because we’ve been told the Palace is closed today!) We drive back to the Reclining Buddha temple, where the driver says we finish here. There’s the Reclining Buddha, one minute over there is the Palace, and one minute over there is the Emerald Buddha. We hand over the money (plus a bit more, because in the scheme of things we are rich, and the Standing Buddha temple was good), and our tuk tuk driver heads off to find other hot, damp tourists.

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Wat Intharawihan, Temple of the Standing Buddha, Bangkok

At Wat Pho, The Reclining Buddha with iridescent, mother of pearl feet is extraordinary, and we wander around the temple grounds with all the other tourists.

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Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

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Buddha toes: Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok
Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

I try to google map the Palace again, and learn that it closes at 3.30 (it’s now past 2 pm). We decide we really don’t have long enough to do it justice. So we dive into the nearest cafe, get a plateful of food and lots of re-hydrating coconut water.  We talk it over and decide to call it a day. Going to try to get the Chao Phraya river bus back down river, to pick up the BTS Skytrain to get back to our hotel.

Get to the pier, but the guy there says we need to go to pier 9. There are hordes of other hot, sticky tourists. Walk around, up the street, can’t find any sensible looking way to another pier. Walk back.

Something’s going to happen, we never did find out! Bangkok

Another guy says we can cross the river, and pick up the river bus on the other side. So we queue up, pay our 4 baht each to cross the river (that’s about 12c US). Ferry takes us across, but where’s the pier to catch the river bus down river? This is Wat Arun, the famous temple of the dawn. Chris suggests that since we’re here we go and visit it. I snippily reply that no thanks, I’m all templed out, and I’m hot and sticky and tired. We finally give up on public transport and go and look for a taxi. First three taxis we flag down look at us like we’re crazy. You want to go WHERE, in THIS traffic?! So we flag down a couple of motorbike taxis, who are very sweet and helpful, but look really doubtful about taking us back to Sukhumvit soi 27, suggest we try further up the street.

Finally flag down a taxi, who agrees to use the meter (another common scam is saying the meter is broken, and then demanding a large fare), and agrees to go where we want. 45 minutes and a meter fare of 150 baht (less than $5US), we’re back at our lovely little, urban chic hotel, Tints of Blue.  We were so grateful to have an honest taxi driver, who used the meter, we of course gave him a good tip.

Here’s another good tip, if someone tries to tell you the Palace in Bangkok is closed for some holiday or other, don’t believe them!

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4 thoughts on “Tuk tuk tuk”

  1. Oh the joys of being scam bait in a foreign country! We have an almost identical story (only worse) about our horse and carriage driver in Luxor, Egypt. Talk about paying the stoopid tax!
    Alison

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