Bangkok & How we got scammed

I know this is really late, but I am finally ending my Thailand blog series, with our last destination Bangkok! To be honest, it wasn’t our FAVOURITE. Steven & I went from being in the very slow-paced city of Chiang Mai, to the very relaxing Krabi beaches…to an extremely busy, crowded and hot city of Bangkok. Also, while we encountered only the kindest people during our trip, we met a few dishonest souls during our stay in Bangkok.

So on the 6th day of our trip, we took a flight from Krabi > Bangkok. We landed in the evening, and the whole plan was to experience the nightlife. But first we checked into our hotel.

We stayed at “The Sukhothai Bangkok.” Guys….there aren’t enough words to explain this hotel. Just driving into the hotel, you could already feel how luxurious it was.

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At first I booked the “Superior Room,” on Expedia, which already looked lovely. For some reason..a few weeks after, I went back to the same link to see if the price changed. We lucked out BIG time, since for the same price – we were able to change our reservation to the Executive Suite. When we first came in, they had fruits and chocolate ready for us. The entire suite was an open concept, but the best part was the washroom! It had a sink for the each of us, with more than enough toiletries. There were also two showers, a beautiful deep bathtub and a really unique mirror design. Similar to the hotel we stayed in Chiang Mai – you can tell them put a LOT of time and money into the details. It made our stay feel so incredibly luxurious, I really didn’t want to leave.

 

Photo 2017-06-24, 12 37 04 AM (1)After washing up, we went to the front desk to ask for recommendations of places to eat. We mentioned we wanted to eat at places that were popular amongst locals, and to experience the overall nightlife(perhaps bar hopping and such)…I guess we should have been a lot more clear since we ended up at probably the most expensive/ westernized street in Bangkok. All around were the fanciest cars/ fanciest restaurants & night clubs – when all Steven & I really wanted to do was have some street food & drink some local beers. We laughed about it the whole night, since apparently she thought we could afford to spend lavishly on this street.

After walking around for at least 30 minutes trying to find the right place to eat, we decided to settle on a nice pub. It played live music, and Steven & I just enjoyed our last night in Bangkok. We also finished the night at McDonald’s (which sells drumsticks?)

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The next day, was our last day in Bangkok, with us flying out at 2:00 AM. We made the most out of our last day. Planing to visit the Grand Palace, but first we had amazing street food in the blazing sun.

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saying goodbye to our last hotel room in Thailand 😦

 

HOW WE GOT SCAMMED

OK – so now for our mishaps trying to get to the Grand Palace. That day exploring Bangkok, really showed Steven & I that as much as we loved being with one another, we would never be able to do the Amazing Race together haha. Also, before I begin – let me say that I was very aware of the common scams in Bangkok since I read a LOT about them. But MAN are they slick. This ended up being a LOT longer than I expected, so please feel free to skim over.

Steven & I walked in circles, trying to get to an express boat, to get us to the Grand Palace. We were standing in the middle of the street staring at a map, when a random Chinese man (scam#1) comes and makes small talk with us. He asks us where we’re from, we looked lost and asked if we needed help to get somewhere. Steven is Chinese, and so the man started speaking to him in Mandarin, and they instantly clicked. He showed us our directions, but then mentioned it was much better to take long tail boats to get to the Grand Palace, instead of our express boat. He then started listing different prices (that were a LOT more than our boat price). Keep in mind, this man is casually dressed, looking as though he has no association with a long tail boat company! He then said if we wanted the long tail boat, he could help us arrange it! Steven & I politely declined, thanked him for his time and continued on the search to our express boat.

We walked some more, in the blazing sun, reading our map when another man then approaches us (scam#2). He once again, started some nice conversation and asked us where we’re heading. He then mentions, that express boats do NOT run on Saturdays…as the working hours end at 12 PM. Steven then responds that makes no sense, when do they begin if they end at 12 PM? He then gets a little frustrated saying, “don’t you understand what I’m telling you? the boats don’t run after 12 PM, you’ll have to take a long-tail boat, trust me!” Once again, this man was very casual, with no visual connection to these long-tail boat companies. At this point – Steven & I saw a common trend between the two men, and we decided to not speak to anymore locals until we got to the express boat.

We finally get to the boat, take it there (where we paid a landing fee lol). Steven & I walked around, extremely hot (a bit frustrated lol) so we decided to take a much needed ice cream break. We got coconut ice cream in a fresh coconut (amaaazing).

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Now for the best executed scam of all. Steven & I, once again were looking at our map. A very nice older man approached us, and asked us if we need help with directions. He asked where we’re from (we say Toronto,) and he said that he loves Toronto, go leafs go! After learning that we were heading to the Grand Palace, he asked if we had our passports on us, since it’s needed to enter. He mentioned they’ve really increased security due to recent world events. Steven & I took what he said with a grain of salt..but he continued to ask if we’ve seen the Black Buddha…and two other specific temples. At this point, Steven & I are honestly exhausted – and kind of relived to hear someone tell us exactly which temples to go to and where. He also quickly mentions a fantastic export factory if we have the time. He mentioned to make sure we don’t pay anymore than 100 Baht, and that using a Tuk Tuk would be the easiest and most efficient way. He asked if we want to go ahead with this, and we at first politely decline. Steven & I then started fiddling at our map again, trying to figure out what to do since the Grand Palace was a FAR walk away and that we may or may not be able to enter. We then decide, you know what let’s just take the route this man had mentioned. So he then calls a “random,” tuk tuk driver, and tells him exactly where to take us. This man then mentions again, make sure to NOT pay him more than 100 Baht, and to not pay the driver until you’ve seen all three locations. Steven & I thanked him, hopped into the Tuk tuk…looked at each other and said “YUP – I think we just got scammed.”

This man takes us to our first stop, the “Black Buddha.” Now Thailand, is the country of Buddhas, with immense beautiful temples everywhere that you turn. This driver took  us to the smallest temple I’d laid my eyes on since landing (it’s literally a room.) In the centre of it, is a statue of Buddha, a GOLD statue. Coincidentally – there is a well dressed man in the temple at the same time with us. He also made small talk with us, and began to explain to us the story behind the Black Buddha. He shared that people used to visit, with different illnesses and pains, pray to this Buddha, and then slab a piece of gold onto the statue, at the body part they were hurting. Over the years, the Black Buddha, became gold, after all the visits and prayers. He then asked us if we heard of this export factory, that makes fantastic tailored suits/dress shirts/ dress pants, with the highest quality material for the cheapest prices. He insisted that we visit the export factory, and started explaining why it is cheaper (due to some government regulations etc.)….we thanked him for his time, and walked over to the temple beside.

Once again, a very average and small temple – with another well dressed man in there too.ONCE AGAIN, some more small talk (lol at this point Steven & I want to no longer answer when approached and asked where we’re from or where we’re going) He mentions he works for the United Nations, but is just here to visit the temple on his day off. He also mentioned he’s about to visit the export factory, and highly encourages us to go as well, in fact we can go together! Steven & I at this point, as trying to quickly brush off the conversation, cut the tour short and go home.

We returned to our driver, and asked him to take us back (we don’t mind paying but we’ve had enough of the tour). He mentioned, he is going to take us to this export factory. At this point – I am in disbelief and really frustrated. He mentioned he just needs us to go in, and stay for exactly 10 minutes. It’s fine if we don’t buy anything, but he is basically given “gas tokens,” from the factory if his guests stay for at least 10 minutes. At this point I’m extremely uncomfortable, but Steven comforted me since he mentioned his friend had told him about this. So we agreed..to go in for exactly 10 minutes.

We were greeted by a few men extremely eager to get our measurements, and start making us customized clothes. Steven took his sweet time looking through magazines of styles, while I sat there awkwardly and uncomfortable. However, as sneaky and weird as this situation was, the salesmen were not pushy at all. After trying to convince us to customize a few suits and what not, they let us comfortable roam around the store (for the rest of the 10 minutes), before we left the store. Our tuk tuk driver thanked us, and brought us back.

At this point, Steven & I were tired, frustrated, but also laughed a LOT that we got scammed. Luckily it wasn’t for much, and it definitely made our time memorable. These people are pros, and so if you’re planning to visit Bangkok, I’d really recommend you read a LOT of stories about these scams, familiarize yourself and just to be careful because it could’ve been much worse.

Steven & I then got back to the hotel (went for a swim at another hotel and got driven in a Benz, since our hotel was renovating the pool… we even got free drinks). We cleaned up…spent our last hours at the bar in the hotel, listening to music and just laughing over and over about our ridiculous day in Bangkok.

This was my first time travelling with Steven, and I couldn’t have asked for a better time, or a better person to travel with. Someone that is just as passionate about food as me (lol), but also someone that knows how to enjoy every single moment. I stopped myself many times throughout the trip, to remind myself to enjoy and appreciate the moment, and that yes this was real life. With many months of the year away from Steven, this week gave me so many great memories that I’m so grateful for. I can’t wait to continue travelling the world with you.

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Have a great night guys,

 

Alice

 

 

 

 

 

 

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