Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bangkok scams a plenty

The next day we decided to walk to the Grand Palace which was built in 1782 - and for 150 years the home of the Thai King. Many royal rituals are performed here by the King every year. I have read that King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) moved into the palace full time after his return from abroad in 1945. However after his mysterious death a year later in one of the palaces inside the complex, his brother King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) who succeeded him decided to move permanently to the Chitralada Palace. The palace is grand and the intricate detail throughout the complex is truly impressive. We stopped by the Chao Phraya River to admire the view at the end of a local park. There were only us and one other woman who appeared to be praying in the immediate area. On closer inspection the lady was in the middle of scattering ashes into the river. Feeling bad for interrupting we made a fast exit.

As we passed a government building on our way to the grand palace a security guard glanced at Celine made a grunting noise of approval and grabbed his crotch. We found this hilarious. I can only assume the guy didn’t see me walking with Celine and holding her hand. No one would be game enough to try that with me around!

We stopped by a Bangkok University where the Law students were having a day off and celebrating. We mixed with them and bought some coconut ice cream. They were quite excited to make a sale as I guess all uni students would be.

We took a tour on the Chao Phraya River and were able to negotiate down to 400 baht each. We toured around the back canals getting a great view of the housing by the river. With most houses made of wood we saw the simplicity of people's living. Their rooms were generally small with a patio which was used to relax and hang out washing. Many did not escape a satellite dish which looked out of place in the landscape but suggested this luxury was not missed. We saw lizards and fish and all the locals were happy and gave a wave as we passed. We stopped at the Temple of the Dawn, a Buddhist temple sitting on the other side of the river and were met with torrential rain. We were soaked and Celine had her first near experience of loosing her bag. We had our first tuk tuk ride back to Khao San road. Turns out pasty white guys with no hair should wear sunscreen. I was burnt. When will I learn?

We had a few drinks to reminisce on the day before I decided that I wanted to show Celine a different part of the Thai culture – a ping pong show. For those of you that don’t know what that is Google it and be amused. First point to remember when getting a tuk tuk is that if they are offering 20 baht or less there is a catch. The guy that approached us who was battling to keep his three remaining teeth had such an offer. The renowned area for such activities is Patpong 1 & Patpong 2 Street. I thought I made myself clear – Ping Pong show in Patpong. But our 20 baht trip took us to a seedy car park with dodgy guys greedily awaiting our arrival. Knowing I had been done I became angry. The driver got angry and Celine was telling me not to be angry. The tuk tuk driver sped off, making some comments along the line that we were crazy. At least he didn’t leave us there to the vultures. I didn’t trust him completely (not sure why) so asked to get out on a busier street. I gave him his 20 baht thanked him for his service. I was pretty peeved but happier we were both safe. Not to be deterred we grabbed a taxi and headed for Patpong. There are markets in the street so we had a look around before we were again approached asking if we wanted to see a show. It is 100 baht a drink. No entry charge. Leave if you don’t like is what the guy said. Super Pussy sounded like a reputable company so we climbed the stairs. BANG. 10 girls converge like flies on a rotting corpse. We must have looked like sitting ducks. We ordered a drink thinking that would make them leave. Oh No. Can you buy us a coke? Please buy me a coke. They are everywhere. Usually a concept guys would welcome. Not in this case. They are rubbing my legs, touching my arms and then there is poor Celine. She is always up for a new experience but this was not what I had explained or what she had in mind. She was being attended too as much as I was.
"I am not too comfortable here" Celine says to me with 5 sets of hands circumnavigating her body. I could see her point. We went to leave after a sip of our beer (all this happened within a minute) and they tried to charge 300 baht a beer and 1,400 baht to buy the girls a few 100ml glasses of coke. You are dead set kidding. After getting angry for the second time in an hour I paid 150 baht for our beers and we quickly vacated. It was not really our night. Someone just didn’t want us to see a ping pong show. We got a taxi back to Khao San road had a drink to round off the evening before a fight broke out. Punches, kicks and glasses were thrown for a reason I am unsure of. As we walked home a 50 something year old overweight westerner was staggering in front of us. He was being followed by a Thai girl who they had it seems been spending the evening together drinking. His interest in her was not all there and through his slurred speech I got “I just want to go home”. As he stumbled off into the darkness with his lady friend in persistent pursuit I could only offer him the best of luck. At least we were not him. Was a comical way to the end the evening.

Thought of the day: Ask how much something is before you buy. If you are in a dodgy strip joint and you order a beer chances are that price will triple.

Our final day in Bangkok we took a Tuk Tuk to the Grand Palace and went and explored the Wat Po temple. We had lunch at a little authentic Thai restaurant by the ferry and for me was the meal of the trip. I had a chicken noodle dish and the flavours were amazing. At the Wat Po temple we sat and watched the Monks praying after getting a 45 minute reflexology massage. Awesome. I think I fell asleep. We caught a ferry back and packed for out next stop – Hanoi…..

1 comment:

  1. My poor baby - being pawed by so many aweful women - how did you cope? But I guess Super Pussy may have given you some indication. Glad at least to know there is no discrimination and that Celine was equally appreciated by those seeking coke. An intersting start. Love the blog so far (and working out how to translate Celine's comments - just to support my already brilliant French of course).

    XXX Luv u both Suey