Getting Fooled in Bangkok – Thailand Part III
Since I had to wait until I could change my room, I slept quite long the next morning. Bangkok certainly looked different by day as I checked the view of my room:
The blue sky with its happy little clouds and the bright roof tiles made a totally different impression than the night before.
But when I got into the bathroom I saw a big cockroach. It was lying on the back pretending to be dead, but when I wanted to throw it away it got up. So I had to kill it anyway… But I was kind of relieved, because a dead cockroach would have worried me more than a living… I mean, they survive everything, right? What would it mean if there was a dead cockroach in my room?!
It was almost noon when I finally got to move my room and then I went out to explore the neighborhood. As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, taxi drivers where approaching me. But I didn’t want to go anywhere, I just wanted to walk and so I turned into Khaosan road. It was almost empty and very quiet at this time. Only a few tourists were having lunch and I decided to get some food too before I would walk on.
As I walked, I was approached by Tuk Tuk drivers every few meters. They were telling me that it was a Buddhist holiday and all temples would be closed but one which they could show me, but I had been warned about them before going to Thailand so I blocked all approaches and made my way to the Democracy Monument:
There was a temple near the monument, but there weren’t any tourists or other people. While I was looking for the entrance a man walked up to me and started talking to me in English. He said he was an English teacher at a highschool near that temple and asked me questions like where I’m from etc. It seemed like he was just interested in talking English to a foreigner. He told me that the temple was closed because of a Buddhist holiday (I started to believe that it was one) and invited me to chat for a while. After some small talk he started to tell me about some places I should go and where better not to go, including tailors. He even marked the spots in my map and seemed really helpful, but in the end he guided me… to a Tuk Tuk! Oh no, I thought, but he had been so kind that I thought I couldn’t turn down his offer… After all, could I say I’ve been to Thailand without ever riding a Tuk Tuk? And the driver would charge only 1 Euro for two hours driving so it wouldn’t be a great loss, would it?
So I got on the Tuk Tuk and we went to the first stop, a small temple not far away. While the driver was waiting, I went inside.
There was one monk meditating and one Thai who chatted with me. He told me that his wife was in hospital, because she was in labour and he came to the temple to pray for a safe birth. He also told me that because of the Buddhist holiday, tailors would give discounts on their clothes so that he could afford some very fine clothes that would be too expensive for him usually. He even mentioned the same tailor the English teacher had recommended.
I began to feel safe. Maybe I had been really lucky to meet that English teacher, I thought.
But then the drive with the Tuk Tuk turned into a tourist trap. It was exactly as I had been told: The Tuk Tuk drivers take you from shop to shop and hope that you buy something so they would get coupons for gasoline.
First, we went to the already mentioned tailor. Since I’ve been looking for a suit or costume for a while and haven’t been able to find one in Japan so far, I actually thought that I could get something tailored. The staff was friendly and I chose some cloth and cut. After I bargained and got a good discount, the tailor proceeded to measure me and I filled in the form to order, but when I wanted to pay it turned out that I couldn’t use my credit card although I had asked in advance if it would be possible to pay with a JCB card. Then the trouble began…
One sales person accompanied me to several ATMs so I could get some cash, but wherever we went, no ATM would accept my JCB. It wasn’t even possible to get money at a bank with my passport, so we returned to the tailor and I requested to cancel my order. The tailor said it wasn’t possible to cancel because I had already filled in the form and the company would think he deceived them if I would cancel now. Instead, he offered me to pay just a little amount of cash so he could give the order to the factory and pay the rest the next day when I would fetch my clothes. In the meantime, I could contact my bank and sort things out, he suggested. But I didn’t want to do that. I thought, once the clothes are made it would be very hard for me to pay if I couldn’t get more cash. Unfortunately, the tailor didn’t want to give in and offered me his mobile phone to call my bank immediately, which I tried, but I couldn’t reach anyone. Since he still didn’t want to give in, I asked to call my Thai friend for help. Luckily, we communicated in Japanese so the tailor couldn’t understand what we were talking about. I asked my friend if it really wasn’t possible to cancel my order anymore and she said it was, so I should insist on it. I was really relieved to hear that and told the tailor, that my friend also didn’t think I could get money from my bank after I’ve tried all means, and requested to cancel again. Finally, the tailor gave in and released me from this unpleasant experience…
But the Tuk Tuk driver wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. He drove me to another tailor and asked me to at least have a look so he could get his coupons. Well, I had a look but didn’t want to get into the same hassle again so I left after five minutes. What followed were a jewel and souvenir shop and a tourist agency, where I booked a day-trip to Kanchanaburi. It seemed like the whole tour was good for something at last… The Tuk Tuk driver still wanted to go on afterwards and show me more clothes shops but I had more than enough. I asked him to drive me back to the Democracy monument which he did. When I paid him he had a look at the small bag I got at the souvenir shop and asked how much I had paid. It was around 5 Euro, so he got pissed and just said “cheap”. And that was pretty much the end of the tour.
In the end, I had been driving around for almost four hours without any break and I was quite exhausted but I didn’t want to end my first day in Bangkok like this so I decided to continue walking for a little while. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the route I intended to and it took some time for me to notice my mistake and reorientate. Somehow I had ended up at the Ministry of Defence where a group of soldiers was pulling down the flag.
Then I just wanted to return to my hotel but it wasn’t that easy to get there even after I found my current place on the map, because there were some big roads which could only be crossed at certain points so I had to go back and forth to find a way. Somehow I made my way back, took a shower and ate at the Indian restaurant a few meters away from my hotel. How glad was I that I would meet my friend the next day!