Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
43Trip End Ongoing
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Tuctuc drivers spend their days hassling people to go to these shops, pingpong shows (more about this later), and temples - "i take you best temple, very big Buddha, special lucky temple, many Buddha for you." Are they working on commission for this as well? It figures that more tourists equals more money for the monks. This may explain why we have seen monks buying $600+ digital SLR cameras in every camera shop we have been to. After China, we had seen enough Buddhist propaganda and vowed never to visit a temple again. We watched 40 people, who had payed $80 to go see the 'worlds biggest Buddha,' come back disappointed because it was only the 'worlds biggest sitting Buddha.' As my friend once said about Bangkok, 'sitting Buddha, kneeling Buddha, lying Buddha, big Buddha, I prayed to never again see a Buddha.' Same same.
There was probably loads of cultural stuff to do here but there was only two Bangkok institutions we wanted to visit. The predictably vicious Thai boxing and the unpredictably depressing Ping Pong show. Anyone easily offended should look away now. Out of curiosity (and because its one of those must do things in Bangkok) we payed $10 for a beer and watched a group of Thai women use their genitalia to do everything other than have babies: blow out candles, smoke a cigarette, fire ping pongs, smash an egg, insert razor blades - all performed with the enthusiasm of Kevin and Perry at a school parents evening. They looked smacked up and did everything in such a matter of fact manner, yet some of them must have done some hardcore training. We watched a woman blow out darts which popped balloons on the ceiling 10 meters away. Maybe there is a special Olympics for talent like that. No-one would ever find it arousing and all the guests were similarly curious Westerners who didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the 'menu' on display. In the final trick we saw, a woman inserted a pen and used it to write "thankyou for come to super pussy bar." Enough to graphically describe what happens. A dilemma clouded my mind on the journey home - were Westerners like us helping provide an income to impoverished women, or was our presence maintaining the suffering of opium addicted Thia's being forced to work. I suspect the later.
I didn't intend to write so negatively about Bangkok - we have had a great time here - unfortunately its the negative elements that jump out of me when I think back to this city. I have one piece of advice for travelers for whom Bangkok is the first place they visit - don't bring anything. Seriously, don't pack a bag, don't even take a bag. Everything you could ever possibly need can be bought from the market for a fraction of the price back home - clothes, a backpack, books (thats all you really need), mosquito net, lonely planet guides etc etc.
People to avoid while traveling # 7 - The "I'm trying to find myself" people (ITFMs)
Its a well stated cliche: you go traveling and you can 'find yourself.' Why? Normally when I lose something I look in the last place I had it. I say this to ITFMs but they're so unbelievably self absorbed they fail to recognise the sarcasm and usually obliviously continue talking with the classic line "I just feel so lost." Have you asked for directions? Of course your lost, your 10,000 miles from home. Most of the ITFMs seem to come from America with a particularly strong crowd from New Yaarrrk. Its impossible to change the subject of conversation - whatever you say is irrelevant, their just biding their time, waiting for you to shut up so they can carry on babbling about themselves. If you have ever been complimented as being a 'good listener' be careful. ITFMs will sniff you out and cling onto you like a leech.