The Great Bangkok Tuk-Tuk Scam

Trip Start Mar 05, 2007
Trip End May 01, 2007

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Monday, March 19, 2007

So, we had our first real scam pulled on us yesterday, but came out pretty much unscathed, except for the blisters on our feet.

We're been traveling with two Canadian girls we met on Koh Tao island (who are a total riot I might add). So we wake up on our first morning in Bangkok to go hit the city and we wander out in the street to figure out where we are. Almost immediately a very friendly man walks up and asks us who we are and where we're from. When we tell him that we're going to the Koa San Rd market, he informs us that its closed for the morning, but he can tell us where to go until then. He makes quick friends with us and has us pull out our map, which he writes all over and tells us where he thinks we should go. Then just moments later, his friend in his tuk-tuk pulls up and we all crowd in. At this point, we're having a GREAT time! We paid about .30 cents each to spend the whole morning going to temples and seeing Buddhas. Perfect.

We pull up to our first stop, which is a suit shop. We get ushered in and a bunch of really pushy guys try to sell us really over priced suits. We turn them down politely and get back into our tuk-tuk for our second stop, a travel agency. Again, over priced travel. By this time we've already started to figure there weren't going to be a lot of Buddhas in our morning. Back in the tuk-tuk and to another suit shop. This time though, the driver pulls over and sits us down for a little talk. He says that if we stay in the suit shop for at least about 20 mins, then he will get a gas card from the store he takes us to which will really help him out. Now, we're nice people. We're in for a good bit of fun to help someone out. So we go in there and put on the best show ever! We're trying things on, we're acting interested, we're pretending our pockets are just exploding wish cash to spend on tailored suits. After 30 mins, our performance is over and we start to head out, at which point the store owners get angry. They start yelling at us that we're waisting their time and telling us that we're too poor to afford their suits anyway. Shamefully, we get back in our tuk-tuk.

We were done playing. So we told our driver we just wanted to go see some stuff. He was obviously a little upset, but said he would take us to see a famous Buddha the most lucky one in Bangkok. He said it didn't matter that it wasn't in our travel book, because it was generally unknown. It was a little far away, we were driving for quite some time, but sure enough we ended up in front of a little temple area. We hopped out and headed in to check things out. Now, I've been to some amazing temples in my life and then I've been to some small ones. This one was nothing all that incredible. Yeah, buddha was there, but come one.

When we walked out to get back in...our tuk-tuk had taken off. He drove us far out of the way and dropped us far away from the tourist track. Luckily, we're still in good spirits. We laugh about the whole thing and pull out the book to try and salvage what we can of our day. 3 buses, $10 and 4 hours later we had made it back to downtown. We ended up walking for much of that time and didn't end up back at our hostel until 10:30 pm.

Bruised and tired, we rubbed tiger balm on our foot sores and went to bed.

On the good side, we did find the biggest market in Bangkok and did some great gift shopping.
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jnf on

we're all apparently walking money to some
The word 'only' repeated over and over again seems to do okay with them generally. Whenever they ask you if you want to XYZ, say no 'khaosahn only'. They will insist it's closed, in the mornings its pretty dead, but it's not closed. It appears to be largely 24 hours. That said, in the morning is probably not a great time as much of what you find are people still drinking from the night before and all of the Thai's that had no place to go.

If it makes you feel any better, I ended up at two suit shops the other day. After that I began insisting they take me where I want to go and only there and its been okay. Some of them want to give over-priced rides, others seem to be pretty fair. The price of taxi's is more consistent, but even then I've had a couple rides that were 100 baht one direction and 200 back, but it seems like ~200-300 baht will take you from one end of the city to the other, so tuk-tuk's that want that much simply walk away from.

The tuk-tuk that took me all over the city and to two suit shops was trying to get some sort of tax stamp for free gas and insisted that he not take any money from me. I had a taxi driver run me around to get the meter up, then switch out a 500 baht and 100 baht bill on me when I was a bit drunken the other night. YMMV

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