Touted as one of the most visited countries in the world, Thailand’s charm is in its plethora of choices. One moment you can be in the the thick of the city, the next you’re meditating in a sacred temple. One moment your feet are buried in a pristine white sand beach, a few steps away you can be in the jungle laughing with monkeys.
Arriving past midnight in Bangkok, our first real morning, we said we’d take it slow and take the time to figure out our surroundings. Our goal was simple, first get food and then head to the temple. As soon as we walked out of our condo, directions in hand, we were approached by a Tuk Tuk driver offering to take us both for food and to the temple, an hour worth of service for just 150 baht! Now the thing is, we knew we were probably being robbed. On the little we had read up beforehand, we were warned that Thai people were both friendly and cunning. The problem was that no one had a spreadsheet detailing exact pricing for services, so how would we know what was robbing from what it wasn’t?!?! We had decided from before that we were okay with being robbed, just so in that we knew it was being done and we knew the ‘robbing’ was a better bargain than anything we could get equivalent in the states. For $5USD we were all game to being robbed for a little bit anyways.
Then our driver made good on his promise and took us to a restaurant (by all means I’m being more than generous in the use of the word) where the meals were about 20 baht each! Have you ever remembered the exact moment you fell in love with a place? I shan’t speak on behalf of my companions but it was that exact moment, in that cook shop, eating my favorite cuisine (Thai food of course) that I fell in love with Thailand! We all filled our bellies on what was the equivalent of about $7USD! It takes discipline and budgeting for even one person to spend less than that at Subway sandwiches!
After lunch our driver asked us to stop at a clothes store and act interested, for every tourist he persuades equals commission. High on life and not minding helping out, we agreed. Afterwards we were brought to a tour company by the river, offering us packages for floating markets and boat tours which we never said we were interested in in the first place. You see, it’s all just a hustle part of everyday life for them and even if we didn’t know beforehand that we were being shuffled through the system, it was cemented after the 3rd or 4th time we were approached to do the boat tour or walk into a clothing store on behalf of someone. No we don’t want to go on this boat tour, the water is brown and if I drop in I’m sure i’d die of an instant heart attack. And no I didn’t come to Thailand to buy a Mercase or Darmani suit no matter how nice the material feels! We had to be adamant that we only wanted to cross the river (as quickly as humanly possible) to get to the temple on the other side!
The next few days had us wandering around Thailand. Some times we took a Tuk Tuk, sometimes a cab, sometimes we walked, sometimes we took a ferry, some times a long tail boat, sometimes it was private, sometimes it was public and one time in particular we told our Tuk Tuk we were in a rush to get home (i can’t recall why we would ever have been in a rush) and we went for a speed ride through the city holding on to our dear lives. It wasn’t lost on us that other people could (or would or have) come to Thailand and have a completely different experience than the one we had and the Transportation choices is simply just an analogy for that. You can take whatever method you choose and end up at the same place or you can end up somewhere completely different. That choice is ours no matter how much we don’t know it sometimes.
Our last night in Bangkok we went out for a few drinks, and slightly intoxicated we pulled over a Tuk Tuk to get home. When he told us it would cost 150 baht Suzi nearly exploded! The same cost we were fine with being robbed two days prior had her in a frenzy! Amateurs, we were, no longer! I was tired and wanted desperately to sleep so he could have said 300 and I prolly would have bitten but she was having none of it. She had to explain to him exactly why we were being robbed. I didn’t bother go into all the factors like demand and supply (even Uber raises their prices depending on the circumstances) because I found it all so funny just how seasoned we had become so quickly.