We soon found ourselves back where we started, in Bangkok. This time we had a whole day and an evening to explore. After leaving our bags off at the Mile Map Hostel and having a quick rest, we started our time here with a walk. There’s a lot of street food here – even more than China! After a while we found ourselves at a little bar called “The Front Page“. It was pretty roasting outside so stopping for a drink (or a few) was essential. They also offered a pitcher of Heineken for 180baht (just over £3) so needless to say that offer was taken advantage of.
After wandering back in the direction of our hostel, we stopped by the Siam House Cafe/Restaurant for some dinner. This is where I had my first ever massaman curry so it brought back a few memories eating there again! Of course, the massaman was delicious. Maybe not the best food in Thailand, but still tasty enough to put a big smile on my face!
After checking out of our room the next day and leaving our luggage in Mile Map’s storage room, we took a trip to Central Pier. We were unsure of where we wanted to go; we just knew we wanted to go somewhere by boat! We bought our single trip tickets for 40 baht each and decided to go to the last stop – Phra Arthit Pier. From here we knew we could visit the infamous Khao San road, but didn’t know much else!
Almost immediately after getting off at the pier, we were approached by a lot of people telling us to visit the Giant Buddha as today (September 3rd) was a special day and it was free to visit. Usually I tend to ignore people that approach me seemingly appearing to sell stuff. I believe if I want help/to buy something, then I’ll ask for it. I’ve been knowingly scammed in SE Asia before (Thai/Cambodia border crossing scam) and am well aware of the various tuk tuk scams driving people around and then dropping them off at suit shops. However, one gentleman was very helpful. He informed us that today was Buddha day and Government day. This meant that there was no entrance fee to a few places today, tuk tuk drivers had their petrol paid for by the government and also there was a massive sale on some Thai export items! He told us the public bus that we should take if we wanted to visit a few attractions, or a reasonable price to pay a tuk tuk driver if we wanted one of them to take us around. It worked out that a tuk tuk driver wouldn’t cost much more, and would definitely be more convenient! So, we found ourselves a tuk tuk driver and away we went.
First stop was the Giant Buddha.
Pretty impressive, but once you’ve seen the Giant Buddha in Leshan, China, no other buddha seems quite as big! It was nice seeing some of the locals reactions to it, though. One man’s face in particular light up when he saw it.
Our driver waited outside, so after looking around he then whisked us away to another temple. It was only after visiting this temple did things get weird. Our next stop was “Thailand’s Export Centre” where we could supposedly get a (no joke) 95% discount on some high quality stuff. Neither of us were particularly bothered by this stop and with only 400 or so baht in our wallet we weren’t really equipped to go shopping, but the tuk tuk driver had said he’d take so away we went. Then we stopped outside a wooden door of a small building. Men in suits were opening and closing the door for people. This didn’t look like the place the tuk tuk driver was talking about and we all knew it.
Knowing it was a scam, Harry and I walked in the suit shop… and straight back out. Even the salesman saying Harry should “buy a suit so the tuk tuk driver gets some money” didn’t stop us. Slightly frustrated we got back in the tuk tuk. He said “now we go to the export centre”. Hmm… At least this time he was a bit more honest. “If you spend 15 minutes inside I get 5L free petrol. Don’t need to buy!” Seeing as he was taking us there anyway, we went in. We looked around. We nearly bought a cheap and cheerful watch, then saw it stop working before our eyes. 15 minutes was up and we left.
We’d both had enough of traipsing around silly shops so we told the driver to take us back to where we picked us up. “Just one more stop, don’t need to buy”. No, thank you. He understood and he took us back.
We’d already planned to tip the driver, but were less happy about doing so after his sneaky tricks but neither of us had anything less than 100 baht (£2) so he got a nice note for that trip.
I’ve since read about the “Lucky Buddha Temple” scam near Khao San road. It’s plastered all over the internet! It literally describes everything that happened to us. There is no “special day” and there are no “super sales”. Be warned.
Despite all that, we did have fun. And riding around in a tuk tuk on our last day was pretty cool.
To top the day off, we were bumped up to first class on the first leg of our flight back to China. First class makes people weird…