Four Nights in Bangkok
22.07.2011 - 26.07.2011 32 °C
I arrived in Bangkok after an all nighter on double decker bus from Phuket, which left me absolutely shagged. As we headed into town I had Andrew Lloyd Webber's song “One Night in Bangkok” playing silently in my head. I headed straight for the backpacker district of Bamplamphu, and wound up staying at the Rambuttri Inn, which has all the usual hotel amenities including a pool on the roof. After a couple of nights there I ended up moving to the Merry V Guesthouse just around the corner, it was half the price, with twice the view. From the fourth floor, my room had a panoramic view of the city, it had less facilities but was twice as funky.
The first day I fell for the oldest scam in the book. I was walking down the road, on the way to the King's Palace when I meet my new “best friend”, who advises me, that while the palace is open, did I realize that today today was the monthly govt tax free day for certain manufacturing industries. This was the day when everything is almost half price and to encourage this,tax free day, the govt tuktuk will only cost a dollar for the whole day of touring. So in between visiting the sights of Bangkok, the govt would like to show me some of its local business talent.
So I gave the Kings Palace the “spanish elbow” & hopped in my tuktuk and left to see the “Standing Buddha” which was followed by the “Lucky Buddha” my driver Tompak then suggests we should visit an establishment that makes suits nearby. I enter the “Top Ten Tailors” eager to have a look around but I was hit by a sales pitch, that was silky smooth, it started with the quality of their suits, followed by the urgency needed in the purchase as cheapness is only one day a month and finally closing with the satisfaction of having something made especially for you. If I had caved in, it would have been the most expensive tuktuk ride I have ever taken, but by this time I knew the scam and decided to see as much of Bangkok as I could, in between rushing in and out of various businesses who were trying to sell me jewellery & more suits. After a while the hard sell gets to you and got dropped back at my hotel. I was glad to see the last of Topak and if there was any upside it only cost a dollar.
On the bus to Cambodia, a few days latter, people were joking about the “tax free day” and saying everyone falls for it, at sometime, I just couldn't bring myself to admit that it had happened to me just a couple of days ago, my street creds had taken such a hit.
The next day I took my first river boat ride, which was almost an epifany moment. I was by the river jetty, a boat docked and even though I had no idea of where it was going I could not resist jumping board, my theory being, if they are going down the river, there must other others coming back. It only takes a couple of minutes for the boats to dock, let off a dozen passengers, pick up new ones, and then leave forthe next jetty. Any trip costs just 14 Baht for the “Express Boat ”or 25 Baht for “Tourist” one, which has a guide on board..
Then you link the get off point of the boat with the “skytrain” and you can travel to the middle of town, and to many of its outer reaches. Tuktuks and taxis can take you the final part of journey. The whole process is cheap & reasonably fast especially when compared to the gridlock that you may encounter on the roads at peak times
In four days I ate some great food, had couple of restorative massages, went down streets where the carnival goes all night, met people from all around the world, chilled in quiet parks and realized that I will enjoy coming back.
Off to Siem Reap, Cambodia