One Nice Day in Bangkok and we lost all the pics

Trip Start Mar 01, 2005
Trip End May 20, 2005

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Saturday, April 9, 2005

Well, actually, only a couple hours of the nice day was in Bangkok, but that's about all you can get from that place. There are many reasons why they call Bangkok "the armpit of Thailand" and we found out about all of them and more. It stinks, it's heavily polluted, it has 24 hour traffic jams, there are stairs leading to nowhere, things are broken, moved or malfunctioning everywhere, the transit system is atrocious, there are con artists and thieves everywhere, it's expensive, and even the locals hate it there (and you know that they must know more that even Erin and I found out about during our short stay).

Oh, and it's hot! Freaky deaky hot!

Honestly, it's all compounded by the fact neither of us felt that great when we were there and the fake friendliness of so many Thai people trying to find a way into your pocket is just wearing after awhile. Canadians have a reputation for being overly friendly which is qualified by many stories of international generosity like hosting passengers stranded on the East Coast after the 9/11 disaster, all the way down to commonplace localized actions like holding the door for someone else. I will never take any of this for granted again. Canada, you look better and better every day and in every way!

Our patience has been tried over and over again, on a daily basis, by people in "the Land of Smiles." It's B.S. The smiles are shady and despicably motivated more often than not... and it's truly a damn shame. The people at the forefront and taking charge of showing Thailand to travellers coming in from all over the world are the type of people who would steal your silverware if you invited them over for dinner and left the room to check on a $30 roast. You have to be battered and worn down by this on a daily basis, and when you meet the genuinely nice ones, you unfortunately feel like you can't trust them or give them the time of day in fear of them stealing your watch. There were some spectacularly nice Thai people we met on our trip and managed to put down our guard long enough to enjoy conversations or activities with. Unfortunately, it didn't happen enough because we represented mobile dollar signs to those out to make a quick buck.

Example: en route to one of Bangkok's biggest attractions, the Grand Palace, we had to walk through a park littered with scam artists trying to get your money. A possible mother-son combo went from innocently feeding dried corn to the pigeons on the walkway to stuffing the corn in our bags and getting in our face when we wouldn't pay for it, even after forcing it back in their hands. They dumped the corn through our hands and threw it to the birds before demanding we pay who knows how much for the privilege of being stopped and accosted on our peaceful walk. Erin thought the young boy, possibly 15, was trying to steal her wallet and the placement of something in her bag for something coming out would've been a proper distraction if it was sitting near the top. I refused to pay and told Erin not to either. The lady got downright mad and the young boy started to puff out his chest and direct a glare at Erin. You never know in a situation like this how many of their "friends" are just waiting for such a situation, or whether any police intervention would make things better or worse. It's basic intimidation and it's sad to think how often it probably works. I walked past the old lady and pushed the little twerp away and told him not to start with that crap, before we walked away. We got glares from their friends pulling the same crap just up the road, but it felt good to win and cost them some of their corn at the very least. Woulda felt best to have them busted by the cops or worked them over, but I didn't find out just how sympathetic Bangkok cops and tourist police are to visitors until later on. On our return trip, similar "corn people" were on the other side of the park, but hid their stashes of corn and didn't bother us much with a cop not far away.

Anyway, this is just a small sampling from our trip to Bangkok. It wasn't much fun. Beggars who deform themselves to make more money or borrow the children of other families to look more in need, and tuk tuk drivers who don't understand the meaning of the word no or want to take you anywhere but where you want to go... it just becomes too much. Two or three days is definitely enough, and shopping on Khao San Rd. was probably the best part. The other fun we had was going to a cabaret show and visiting the ruins of Ayuthaya (the old capital of the 18th Century I believe). The ruins were great and made for some solid pics (both funny and scenic) but they've up and disappeared much like our first camera. So, we should have even better quality pics to show from now on our better quality camera. It's all about you guys!

Oh, and update, we're now in Sydney, Australia and it's just beautiful.
Cheers from here,
Scott and Erin
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