I never intended to come to The Land of Smiles.. as they call the capital of Thailand, i.e. Bangkok. If you are up to date with current world affairs, you would have no doubt heard about the whole red-shirt protestors saga which eventually ended up with many burnt buildings around central Bangkok. Here’s a photo of Central World (a major shopping Centre) that was completely closed! I didn’t even know it was burnt down until I arrived there. Instead of a shopping mall, it’s now a tourist attraction in its own right with lots of people coming just to take photos of this broken building!!
The only reason why I came here was for JKim & Chaleeya’s wedding (or more correctly Kim C. & Chaliiya S.), my friends! They have been together for over a decade, so the only thing I have to say to this is, “About time!!” I am certainly happy for them, and want to make it badly, but I had many doubts whether I will make it here. Fortunately, things stabilised in the last 2 weeks. I eventually made a last minute decision to fly here! Nevertheless, many did not make it, presumably concerned about their safety.
I am only here for 5 days. To be honest, I have done no prior research at all before coming to Bangkok, given my focus was entirely on China. So, thanks to Sir Al (family friend that also made it to JKim’s wedding), I managed to cover at least a few touristy things.
Much of my money was spent on BTS Commuter Skyrail & taxi fares, oil & traditional massages, various street food, fake Apple charger (which I regret buying), entrance fees to less-than-impressive tourist attractions (like Grand Palace & The Reclining Buddha), and drinks at bars. That pretty much summarised where my limited amount of Thai Baht went!
And, like China, if you are going to be travelling around Bangkok, be aware that everyone that smells the scent of a tourist will try to suck every cent out of you to their advantage. It is even well recognised by the Thai government! I find this sign amusing at the ticket office for the Grand Palace:
I was no doubt the victim of scammers, namely at Patpong (red-light district), which by all means, my own fault, given we already knew we were going to be ripped off! Shame on me! The experiences described in the forum below summarised the exact experience I went through (if you want to read about it):
Overall, taxi drivers will short change you like it is perfectly normal. Tuk-tuk drivers will outright lie to you, and plenty of touts on the streets will to suck you into their dodgy bars!
Having said that, even when were ripped off, the amounts were not huge. For example, a 500 baht taxi fare really should have been 240 baht (Approx. AUD$9 more). Or, a 1600 baht Ping-pong show, should have really been 400 baht (Approx. AUD$45 more). So, I wasn’t ripped off by hundreds of dollars, but enough that I feel disgusted.
Anyway, I am more satisfied that this is a trip to catch up with old friends and time to relax:
Don’t get me wrong. Bangkok is still a great place. In many respect, it is better than China in areas like toilet hygiene, and far more civilised people who actually knows how to line up. It is just a very different place compared to Khao Lak or Phuket which I visited last year.
Enough relaxation.. I am already on a flight to Tokyo, Japan! So here goes!