|One of our rules on this trip is that we "walk" whenever possible. This is recommended by our friend Gavin who's completed backpacking in Asia a while ago. Walking is great as
1. saves money
2. good exercise
3. heaps more discoveries along the way walking, talking to locals, finding small souvenirs etc.
Anyway we walk a lot, at least 5km a day, sometimes longer, and we love it. This tuk-tuk scam happened when we were walking to one of the temples in Bangkok...
Tuks Tuks are very common in Thailand it's a three wheel taxi vehicle with a driver and you sit at the back. We had read in guide books that be careful with Tuk Tuk drivers as they perform all sorts of scams to try and get every cent off you. How they do it and set up is so professional, I almost call them "artists". It is the art of scam.
While we were walking to the temple, we were approached by a friendly man (Man A) asking us where we from, he loves Australia etc.
Man A: so where are you guys off too today?
Hiro: We are going to the grand palace.
Man A: Oh, did you know that the palace is being closed at the moment for toursit until 4pm, as today is the national buddha day.
Hiro: Oh, really? we didn't know that.
Man A: but it will be re-opened at 4pm, now being 1:30, maybe I can tell you a few other temples around here that are open at the moment.
Hiro: oh, thank you, that would be great.
- We got a map out and he pointed a few temples on the map for us -
Man A: Just catch a Tuk-tuk to these temples, but watch out for ripp-off tuk-tuks, it should only cost around 10Bahts (30cents).
Hiro: Ok, that's cheap.
Man A: Do you know how to identify government-approved tuk-tuks? One with yellow number plate and a flag on the top of the roof, just like.... that one just coming.
-Man pointed out the tuk-tuk and stopped it, we said thank you to this kind, friendly guy and got on to the tuk-tuk. The driver agreed to take us around to these temples with 10bahts. He also agreed to bring us back to the Gland Palace by 4pm when it's re-opened for public. We got to the first temple, it was OK, he was waiting outside the temple and took us to the second temple, what they call "lucky temple". This was rather quiet temple, when we walked in, there was another guy there (Man B) telling us that we have to wait for 10mins as the budda day ceremony had not finished yet. He said he was waiting as well and suggested to take a seat just in the garden outside the temple.-
Man B:How did you know this great temple?
Hiro: oh some friendly man and tuk-tuk driver told us.
Man B: oh you are really lucky, normally this temple is hidden from tourists. He must be a great tuk-tuk driver, it will be only 10mins to open, just relax here.
Hiro: Ok, thanks
Man B: Did you know that today's the national Buddha day?
Hiro: Yeah, we didn't know, but guys told us.
Man B: Today there is the government trade show celebrating buddha day, and especially jewellery are so cheap over there. Today is last day and you guys should check it out!!
Hiro: No thanks, not interested. (now bit suspicious with this guy, but hadn't realised the whole thing is set-up).
-Man B tried for a bit to make us go to the "government trade show", but realised that we were not interested at all, he gave some sort of sign to our tuk-tuk driver. Nice and kind tuk-tuk driver said, "oh ceremony is going to go on for another 1 hour, I will take you to somewhere else". We got back on the tuk-tuk and he drove us to the "government trade show" which happened to be a just small jewellery shop on the street.
Hiro: (now angry) we are not going there, not interested in jewellery.
Driver: Please just have a look the shop for 1 minute. (begging tone), I will get free petrol from the shop if you go in, please, life is hard..
-Driver being nice all the time, we decided to walk in to the shop just for him, spent 1 min and came out. Nice and friendly tuk-tuk driver's attitude suddenly changed from here.
He did not even drop us back at the grand palace we originally wanted to visit, he just dumped us on the street saying "it should be 5mins walk from here" We refused to pay, but he didn't care about 10 bahts, he just took off.
We managed to walk to the grand palace from there, and realised this buddha day stuff was all bullshit. Temples are all open as usual, it actually closes at 3:30pm!! We just managed to get in, but we could have missed out one of the main attractions of Bangkok.
We thought back and now realised the whole thing was set-up scam, from the friendly man on the street, tuk-tuk driver, the guy at Lucky temple... they are all part of this scam!!
Well we didn't lose any money, so we just think that this was good experience and bitter part of our long trip. It is just beautifully done. I wonder why many people got scammed.
But at last I have to say to these cheeky tuk-tuk drivers,
Thailand is such a beautiful contry with friendly people, it is shame that some tuk-tuk drivers who do a lot of business with tourists let the country down. Charging prices up for tourists is understandable as long as we agree to the price with the service. However telling a lie like "temple is closed" is so wrong. What if it was their last day and missed out to go to these beautiful temples? You guys are shame of Thailand!!
Well I feel better now, haha. We did enjoy Bangkok, very unique city, the only one in the world. Now we are off to Chiang Mai, North part of Thailand!!