Scams, elephants, cabbages and condoms

Bangkok Travel Blog

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oooooooooh!!

For Lisa's birthday I had booked a couple of nights in a swanky hotel more in the centre of Bangkok. Given that it was such a reasonable price, we were very impressed with it, by far the best place either of us had ever stayed! Their obsession with blue neon created the 'wow factor', and it had the most free toiletries ever, plus you could even go downstairs and request a 'black tie emergency kit' for when that unexpected invitation arrives. Sadly we did not need that service, but they did ring our doorbell (yes we had a doorbell!) and present us with a single red rose on the first evening and we found a plate of chocolates on our cabinet on the second! I think they were abit confused really, when we checked in they apologised for there only being one bed despite assurances that it really was fine.

Outside the shopping mall
Then when I had to sign the check in form it was addressed to 'Mr Spencer'. Seriously it's not even as if I'm the bloke in our relationship *snigger*.

 

The morning of Lisa's birthday we decided to go and find a market we had seen on the map, getting the Skytrain for the first time. It was very crowded but lovely and cold, a welcome break from the searing heat outside. We got off and walked down the street, pausing to take a photo of the buddhist icons outside one of the buildings. A woman stopped and started talking to us, asking where we were from and where we were going. She seemed very nice, I assumed she was a business woman on her lunch break. She said that the market we wanted to go to wasn't open until later and pointed out on our map the 'temple of the lucky buddha' which we could go to while we waited.

Our hapless tuktuk driver
It was only down the road and she would talk to the tuktuk driver to get us a good price as they often rip tourists off. So far so good. So the tuktuk driver would take us to the temple, wait for us to take some photos and bring us back to where he had dropped us for 20B, assuming of course that we didn't get killed on the way by him driving the wrong way down the street and cutting across the 3 lanes of traffic.

 

When we got to the temple we were accosted by a man who wanted to sell us flowers to put at the door, as a sign of respect to the Buddha. I politely declined but he looked at me like I'd just spat on the Buddha so I backed down. Lisa managed to get us a buy one get one free type offer and we took off our shoes and went inside.

The temple of the lucky buddha
After a couple of minutes of sitting around feeling slightly awkward, the man inside started talking to us about the buddha, and then again about what we were doing. He told us that our market was actually closed today as they were sweeping the floor and recommended a travel agent who would have 'special price today only', advice which we declined and walked us back out to our tuktuk driver who was waiting patiently. I thought at this point that it wasn't even an actual temple, but then we saw some monks, so unless it was a really elaborate set up involving costumes and props just to elicit 20B for some flowers, it probably was real.

 

So we get back on our tuktuk, not knowing where we are going because 1. the canopy is too low to be able to see anything other than the oncoming cars and 2.

Well if you will go to Thailand in the rainy season.....
we don't know where we are anyway. We stop and get out, asking where we actually are, the driver says the expo, we must go inside to look at some gems and come back out or he won't get his gas vouchers. Ahhh the dreaded gem scam we had heard so much about. They take you to a 'gem' shop and sell you coloured bits of glass for the price of real precious stones. Well we are too poor to buy anything anyway as we told him, but he pleaded with us to go in and look anyway. Thankfully another tuktuk arrived with some Dutch guys on it so we knew that nothing too terrible would happen. We walked around, nodded and smiled a bit then went back outside to our ever grateful tuktuk man. Sighing, we climbed back in and were taken to the market which was of course in full swing. Our first scam, at least we were only 40B down!  It made me feel really cross actually.
Happy Birthday!
The first woman seeed so nice, maybe we lost our British scepicism in America, but for a string of people to tell such bare faced lies made me wonder who was trustworthy in this place. Reading up more about the different scams it worries me, you really can't trust anyone, travel agents, transport officials, guest house owners.... So how are we going to get around??

 

So slightly drained we made our way through the market, not finding anything much we wanted, had some lunch and decided to go back to the hotel for a bit as there was a storm brewing. Sadly the storm was quicker than we were and we got caught in a huge thunderstorm soaking us to the skin in bizzare hot rain. The doorman found it very funny and asked us if we had been swimming, *oh how we laughed*.

Sitting outside at the restaurant

 

Feeling much more human, we made our way out for the evening heading down the main street. It had stopped raining some time before, but the heat and increased humidity made it feel exactly the same as it does when you walk into the bathroom after someone has had a hot shower, very odd. We were walking and chatting, and I looked up and swore out loud, 2 foot in front of me was a baby elephant. Lisa quickly got out her camera and managed to get a photo of it's bum, I think the man walking it would have wanted money for a proper photo anyway. We couldn't believe it and just stood in shock for a moment, did we really just walk past a baby elephant?

 

Well, onwards we went to our restaurant destination, Cabbages and Condoms.

Lisa and a heavily protected Santa
We had read about it in the guide book and heard that the food was reasonable priced and very good so we though we would check it out. The founder of the restaurant believes that in this day and age everyone should have access to birth control and that it should be as easy to obtain as vegetables, hence the name! A good percentage of the profits also goes towards HIV education, so it really is a good project. It also made for some amusing photos when we spotted Captain Condom and his friends, plus a bizarre Santa Claus!! The place sounds awful but was really lovely, full of coloured lights, lanterns and waterfalls, we sat outside for hours thoroughly enjoying the evening.

 

After the meal we wandered up to try and find a bar to have a drink in. We quite wanted to see a ladyboy show (its ok, that's actually what they are called!), as we had heard that they were very funny, like drag shows in England. Unfortunatly the more seedy side of Bangkok meant that every bar was full of sweaty, fat middle aged white men fawning over young thai girls, who were lapping up the money and attention. It was really sad and pathetic so we quickly bypassed them for a quiet beer in an 'Italian' cafe. Even so we kept seeing these guys and girls everywhere, even at breakfast this morning when this old guy was trying to explain to his bored 'friend' where France was. It's quite disgusting. Anyway, we enjoyed our cheap thai beer and put the world to rights.

 

Well there's a birthday you won't forget Lisa!!

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oooooooooh!!
oooooooooh!!
Outside the shopping mall
Outside the shopping mall
Our hapless tuktuk driver
Our hapless tuktuk driver
The temple of the lucky buddha
The temple of the lucky buddha
Well if you will go to Thailand in…
Well if you will go to Thailand i…
Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
Sitting outside at the restaurant
Sitting outside at the restaurant
Lisa and a heavily protected Santa
Lisa and a heavily protected Santa
Bangkok
photo by: Deats