Adventures in the Lone Star State

Turbulent Times in Thailand

I can’t even begin to explain what went on today. Even though I was quite tired this morning, I was pleased by the breakfast offered here at the hotel. The staff has been very helpful and courteous. However, I cannot say the same about the taxi drivers in Bangkok. At the present moment, I wish to dust off my feet on them. Yes, those are harsh words for and you may wonder what provokes me to feel so. We started the day by catching the Sky Train (elevated metro) to the local mall; we planned on seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 3 tonight. We then caught a taxi to the Grand Palace, which was fine. However, once we arrived, some men on the street told us that we could not enter because we needed to wear long pants and that it was closed to tourists until 2:00 pm. Somehow, one of them convinced us to use a small vehicle called a Tuk Tuk.

At first, it was lots of fun. The Tuk Tuk was an oversized go-kart with enough room for the three of us. The man also drove recklessly, which added to the adventure. (He swerved in and out of traffic, made illegal turns, drove head on to oncoming traffic, etc.) We did arrive at the first spot just fine. We saw this golden Buddha and the man waited for us. However, before taking us to our second destination, he said that we had to make a few stops at these shops. We didn’t know why, so we agreed. The first shop was a custom tailor store. We sat there for a few minutes before jumping back on the Tuk Tuk. He promised us that he was going to take us to the next tourist spot. However, after the first store, he said that we had to make another stop; this time at a jewelry store. We walked around looking at overpriced jewelry and left. Finally, we made it to the second location on our journey. We climbed up the tower and had a good view of the city. Sadly, there wasn’t much to see. Bangkok is full of slums and unimpressive buildings. There isn’t much of a skyline and after snapping a few shots, we headed back to find our man. He was nowhere to be found. At first, we thought that we walked out onto a different road. We circled the tourist spot and couldn’t find the man anywhere. We walked around again. Still nothing…The man had left! I couldn’t believe it.

We grabbed another taxi that promised to take us to the Grand Palace. He said that he’d take us there for 20 Baht, if we made some stops. Again, we agreed…Why, I don’t know. This man took us back to the same suit shop! I couldn’t believe it. He then told us that he had to take us to some Chinese shop. We were back at the same jewelry shop! The people inside couldn’t believe that we were back and neither could we. To top it off, I watched from the window as our taxi driver took off! For the second time in one hour, we had been ditched by the taxi driver! I was so ticked off. This time, we found a taxi that agreed to use the meter. He took us back to the Grand Palace and all was well.

Back at the palace, it was now 2:00 pm and we could enter the gates. The same people tried to stop us and tell us that we should take the Tuk Tuk around town. I was ready to tell them off, but I didn’t. As we entered the Grand Palace, we found out that we had to wear long pants because we were immodest with our shorts. Mackenzie persuaded us to go into the Grand Palace and I’m glad she did. The grounds were full of several beautiful buildings, including a replica of this ancient Cambodian city (which Yale and Mackenzie will visit in the near future). We took several shots around the palace and its buildings. Yale and Mackenzie even modified their dress because they were getting too hot. Some guards and local Thais did not like it, though; they thought it was disrespectful. By the end of our time at the Grand Palace, I was ready to go.

It was 36 degrees Celsius (close to 97 degrees Fahrenheit), I was soaked, I had a major headache from lack of sleep, and I was starving. I was seriously in a pessimistic mood. Yale and Mackenzie were good sports and put up with my negative attitude. We caught a taxi back to our hotel. Unfortunately for Mackenzie and me, the air did not reach us in the back seat. We just cooked in the back seat while the sun beat upon us. We had the taxi drop us off at the local mall since it had a food court.

The Food Loft (as it was called) was fantastic! Seriously, it ranks in the top 3 places I’ve eaten this entire trip. As you enter, you’re given a tag with a bar code. You have a wide variety of foods to choose from at various stations. You go to a station, ask for what you want, they scan your bar code and the food is prepared. After you’re done eating, you go to the exit and pay at the register. Since I was famished, I started with a sausage pizza roll, followed by a strawberry smoothie and Caesar salad. The meal was delicious. Having eaten now, I was ready for a nap.

As soon as I arrived back at the hotel, I popped several aspirin to help get rid of my headache. I rested on the bed and watched the remaining portion of Dukes of Hazard. Before going to eat (at the Food Loft), I told Yale and Mackenzie that I was done for the day. I planned on doing nothing until the movie later that evening.

After the movie…

We decided to grab a cab back to our hotel because we didn’t walk from the station. It turned out to be a terrible decision. What should’ve been a 3-minute ride turned into a 20-minute nightmare. Our cabbie was a complete idiot. He had absolutely no idea where he was going. All we had to do was follow the Sky Train a few blocks, make a left, and we would be there. The man stopped about four times, trying to figure out where our hotel was. Since we didn’t speak Thai, we could do nothing to remedy the situation. I grew quite impatient as I was not in the mood for incompetence. We even thought about jumping out of the taxi and not paying the man. However, fear of the Thai government and its judiciary system kept us in the taxi. Finally, the man found our street and dropped us off. I have never been so happy to be at the hotel as I was today.

May 26th, 2007 at 6:57 pm


2 Responses to “Turbulent Times in Thailand”

  1. Jacob Lybbert Says:

    Clearly the men advising you, the “Tuk Tuk” drivers, and the owner/operator of the suit shop have an arragement. I’d heard from other friends that’s how things work there.

  2. Fernando Says:

    Yes, I learned that the hard way. Nonetheless, you must experience the Tuk Tuk once (and only once). The pollution from the buses and cars is unbearable. I don’t think these buses have had any type of smog emissions test ever done on them.

    Surprisingly, the pollution seems to rest near the city street level. I’ve had beautiful, clear blue skies the whole time. You can see forever.

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