Feb 7, 2013

That day I almost got scammed for the first time as a tourist (Day 2)

DAY TWO - 31st January 2013
Sala Daeng BTS
I can't remember exactly what time I rolled out of bed -- or rather, the mattress on Jeff's floor -- but it was pretty early. I was supposed to send a couple of documents Kris -- we became friends when he was in KL and he asked if he could send a replacement debit card to me since I'm the one with the permanent address -- at Khao San Road. I figured it would be wise to drop that off first and get it out of the way.

The most interesting thing about this whole journey is not once I picked up a tourist map. I just kinda winged it with the Lonely Planet guidebook I borrowed from Jeff, Google Maps and good ol' Uncle Google himself.

I wasn't too confident on taking the motorcycle taxi all on my own so I played it safe and took a cab. It was pretty cheap anyway -- compared to Kuala Lumpur of course, where the taxi drivers not only try to scam tourists, they are dumb enough to do it to a local -- and took it to Sala Daeng BTS.

On the boat
Bangkok was foreign, but oddly enough kind of familiar. I think it's just the fact that I am a Southeast Asian myself, I'm just trading one SEA city for another for a while.

Clutching onto my Lonely Planet guide, for some reason wanting to be identified as a tourist (because they tried speaking to me in Thai, you see), I made my way to Saphan Taksin where I'm supposed to take the boat if I want to get myself to Khao San. I saw a girl alone at the train station with a map and looking pretty lost herself so I went up to her, still clutching my book like a complete jackass, and asked if she was going to the pier. She said yes, and introduced herself as Gemma from Holland.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

We walked up to the pier and for some reason, Jeff's advice slipped out of my head and we ended up taking the tourist long boat that would set us back a couple of hundred bahts if headed straight for Khao San. Another guy was heading to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace and it was slightly cheaper, so Gemma and I figured we'll just take that and sightsee with this guy Sam from NYC, who happened to not be having the luckiest of days.

On top of losing his pretty damn expensive sunglasses to the murky Bangkok river, he got splashed with said murky water pretty bad.

Truth to be told, I was never really a temple visiting sort of person. I admit Wat Pho was pretty wicked (and big) but once you've seen one, you pretty much seen it all. But you know if you're into temples then it's a different story. We saw the big reclining Buddha just chilling while pasty white foreigners red roasted in the sun and the Southeast Asian takes pictures of him and was out there in a matter of minutes.

Well, after pretty much elbowing through other pasty white foreigners of course.

I took shade under the makeshift roofed area that is the smoking section, where I agreed to meet up CSers Nadine and Pavel after much difficulty in syncing our schedules together. We walked around Wat Pho for about another hour before we figured we've had our fill of temple for the day. We went out and made our merry way to the Grand Palace down the road.

I've heard stories about scammers saying shit like the tourist attraction is closed and some poor old sod falling for it and got taken for a ride. With that in mind, someone actually did try to scam us, although it wasn't even a good attempt. My grandmother can probably do better. We walked into the compound. And of course, much like the temples, the palace required strict clothing regulation. Fortunately for me, I went out wearing rolled up jeans and a loose Uniqlo top which was perfectly temple-and-palace-friendly. Gemma, Nadine and Pavel however, had to cover up.
Pavel and Nadine covered up
After around 20 minutes of battling with the dress code, we made our way to the ticket booth. Only to find out the ticket to see the King's crib was 500B. Which is more than I would be willing to pay for to see someone's house. I think I could go through life without seeing the Grand Palace. I don't think I'll lose my first born. So we decided to walk through the large park and headed to Khao San.

I refuse to sound even a LITTLE bit racist but goddamn I have never seen so many white people in one area in Southeast Asia in my 26 years of living. Khao San reminded me a lot of Petaling Street, which I don't particularly fancy. I mean, I would go there from time to time but no way am I staying there even for a couple of days. Which I'm glad I didn't book a hostel there because to actually get to fucking Khao San took forever.

Le awesome foot massage
We met up with Kris while having lunch. We chatted for a little bit before we parted ways. The girls and I then decided to relax and get ourselves massages. They got Thai massages, I got a foot massage because Thai massages are way too extreme for me and I cannot have anyone touch my back. The hour long foot massage was just what I need after walking around so much.

Nadine didn't want to be taken
a photo of :p
Being the little fatty that I am, we got something to eat before heading back to our home bases. The girls and I thought of sharing a cab to get to Hua Lamphong. But I realized walking out with two girls from Khao San really means taxi drivers would actually try to cheat you into a high fare and refuse to turn on the meter. Nadine then had the idea of taking a ride on a tuk tuk to the station. Gemma and I figured why not, we haven't taken a ride on a tuk tuk.

Tuk tuk driver wanted 200B. We were like, are you fucking crazy? We started telling him 100B. He then demanded for 150B. I raised my voice and insisted on 100B. Even had a stare-down with the guy until he sighed heavily and said okay. Of course, the ride wasn't the smoothest of rides. Hell, it made the motorbike taxis seem like fucking limousines.

Tuk tuk adventure!
We parted with Nadine at Hua Lamphong MRT and headed back to Silom. Gemma and I parted ways there.

When I got back to Jeff's, he was going out for dinner with a friend. I stayed in and read a little. At first I was supposed to meet up with Jeff for drinks with his friends. The plan didn't really happen so we ended up just chilling on his rooftop and talked. I almost forgot how good it is to sit down and have a conversation with Jeff. Stories were exchanged until we got tired and decided to call it a night.

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