Entry Info

16th (Sat)
Jan 2010

[day5] Bangkok Temple Tour

Bangkok Temple TourAs I thought 'maybe I should go more sightseeing.', I decided walking around the famous temples nearby. There are plenty of view spots around my accommodation and I took a full day private walking tour for old temples.

Grand Palace

Bangkok Temple TourI firstly visited the Grand Palace since it looked like the most famous one. Although one strange guy said to me, 'Grand Palace not opened! From 13:00!' when the view of the building appeared in front of my sight, I simply ignored him. Actually, it was opene indeed. You must not believe strangers even if someone talks to you on a street. The entrance fee for the palace was 350 baht. Considering one full meal would cost 100 baht only, this is quite a nice deal but I had to admit that it was a tourist spot and paid it. Incidentally, they have a strict dress code at the Buddhist temples in Thailand. You won't be allowed to enter the site and have to rent a special costume if you expose your knees or shoulders. It should be safe to wear clothes which cover a reasonable area of your skin even if it's too hot outside.

Bangkok Temple TourThe Grand Palace was a classic tourist spot. Although the actual site was quite large, there were too many tourists, including myself, to observe the buildings and statues. Maybe I should have learnt more Thai history but honestly I couldn't really enjoy it there. Well, one interesting thing was a group of local girl students who talked to me in English. In Japan we have a custom like this. When you are on a school trip, you have to challenge your English by talking to foreigners to ask for a photo shoot with them. It was a funny moment as I didn't know this custom exists apart from Japan and I also asked to take a photo of them.

Wat Pho

Bangkok Temple TourAfter the Grand Palace, I went to Wat Pho which is famous for the big Reclining Buddha. The entrance fee was a humble 50 baht. There were not many tourists except for around the Reclining Buddha, and I could look around the area with calm. Typically, the arrays of golden Buddha statues along the walls were absolutely magnificent. I was totally captivated with the mysterious view of the Buddha statues repeated again and again on the dark corridors. I'd prefer here to the Grand Palace as it's nicely quiet and many spots to see.

Wat Arun

Bangkok Temple TourThe next was Wat Arun which is famous for its steeple located on the other side of the river. You could use a tourist ship for some hundred baht but the owner of my accommodation recommended me using a local ferry which cost only 3 baht for a single trip. The information from honest local people is always appreciated. I could climb up to the steeple there but the steps were incredibly steep. I had to grip the handle very tightly and in fact found a sense of vertigo. Nevertheless, the view of the Bangkok old city from the middle of the steeple was spectacular and worth trying to climb up.

Bangkok Temple TourWell, I travelled through the main sightseeing spots in Bangkok pretty much in a day. But I had ample days in Thailand and I started considering going to Ayutthaya when I was eating dinner of Thai fried rice and fruit shake.

Entry Info

13th (Wed)
Jan 2010

[day3] Shopping in Bangkok

Shopping in BangkokAlthough I made a big blunder on the first day, I must not be depressed for long because of such a stupid fraud. I should enjoy this dream trip. However, I in fact have no plans about what to do at each destination although I fixed the route of the whole trip already.

I asked the owner of the accommodation which places I should go in Bangkok and he told me the weekend market can be one. Besides, many local people would use the market as well as some foreigners and it should be different from Khao San where only backpackers come. Therefore, I decided to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market which is one of the biggest markets in Bangkok.

Concentrated Market

Shopping in BangkokI was a bit afraid of the location because I heard it would be 10 minutes walking from the station to the market but once I arrived at the station, there were so many people around the area and they were walking to the same direction. I couldn’t possibly lose my way if I just followed the crowd. The market that finally appeared in front of me was absolutely gigantic. From furniture to foods, lingerie to pets, there are literally all kinds of consumer goods available on the market which consisted of a bunch of narrow alleys and those alleys made the market like a huge maze. Although there were the ceilings overhead, I found beads of sweat forming on my back and forehead.

Price tags meant nothing at the market. Although they were already much cheaper compared to the ones in Japan and the other advanced countries, getting discounts from this stage is the real game. Negotiations were held in every place. I saw some foreigners who looked like buyers or similar sort of people were purchasing a lot of accessories from the stores. I also bought a pair of sandals which I'd forgotten to get in Japan. I think it would be a nice idea to get a complete set of items for the round the world trip in Bangkok unless you are particular about brands and quality.

Well Polished City

Shopping in BangkokAs I had enough walking around the market, I changed my way to the Bangkok central area which is indeed a big city. There are a lot of huge shopping malls. The ads of luxury hotels and brands indicated a certain number of wealthy people in the area. It was actually comfortable at the air conditioned shopping mall and totally different from the suffocating market where I'd been before. Looking at beautiful products displayed in spotlessly polished show windows, only Thai language letters proved that I was in the country at the moment.

And of course, there are many local people enjoying their shopping. Though a 100,000 baht Cartier watch didn't seem to be popular, a lot of home electrical appliances, which were actually more expensive than the ones in Japan due to the currency rate, sold well there.

While some people are trying to sell tiny 10 baht ornaments at crude hats, some others are purchasing 10,000 baht products at shining buildings. Although I don't believe in human rights of complete equality, I was forced to consider what the richness for people is during the way to the accommodation, after I actually saw the disparity.

Entry Info

8th (Fri)
Jan 2010

[day1] Trapped!

continued from the previous entry.

Well, he was ripping me off as suspected. The price was not super high for me but I was very disappointed as I hadn't been able to figure out this trick. I almost lost my words with the shock but firstly I have to protect myself from this stupid game. I'm somehow very getting used to reducing damages from any sort of accidents though this means I'm always involved with trouble.

Anyhow, 150,000baht for 3 hours drinking was too expensive for the service. By my own estimation, I would have paid 6000baht for the maximum but how did I get a discount in these circumstances?

First of all, I had told Shcad that I hadn’t had enough cash before the entrance. However, he must have seen a credit card in my wallet and reckoned that I have ability to pay. It was possible to withdraw money from ATMs.

Incidentally, I tried to pay by credit card at the first and get 15,000baht cash from him, he rejected very strongly. According to him, the credit card company would charge more fees for my Japanese credit card but I suspect there was a gap to the real payment to the bar. Besides, he might not have wanted to make an official record for this. Although I judged him as guilty in my head, I kept acting as if I was still trusting him because he also talked to me in a friendly manner.

An important point is, I had some credit cards at the moment but only one card was enabled for the international cashing. The other cards were left in the hostel's locker. I secretly took the card from my wallet and slipped into jeans' pocket.

And we went to the nearest ATM. "I will pay for you because I enjoyed a lot. It was more expensive than I anticipated though." Pretending gently, I inserted the credit card, which were actually not enabled for international cash, to the ATM and entered my PIN number. If I had entered the wrong number, an error message would have appeared immediately; however I passed this step. Nonetheless, eventually an error message popped up when I decided the amount of money for the withdrawal. I started panicking "Oh, why? I could get money from ATM. This is way I have money at this moment." And Schad replied doubtfully, "Don't you have another card?" Even if I tried another one, the result was of course failure. We tried with other ATMs too as Schad suspected the error was due to the bank’s problem but nothing was given.

This was a huge trouble for me, superficially though. How could I manage to get money for about a week in Thailand? I acted slightly panicking and sat down a bench nearby. Phew, I now could hide the real agitation and consider about the next step. Schad walked to me with a worried face. "Well, we should go to the airport." Oh, he was levying very earnestly. But even if we had gone there, the result would have been the same because of the card I used. The airport runs 24 hours but it would be a waste of the taxi fee.

Saying the airport was too far, I was pretending being bewildered and Schad suggested an interesting point. "Don't you have Japanese yen now?" Oh yeah, I had a 10,000 yen note in my wallet for emergencies. "I have only this but isn't it enough?" I showed the note to him. "Not enough." said Schad. But the speed of fetching the note from my hand was incredibly fast. Well, what was the next option?

I supposed that this must have been dangerous if we had remained there longer and I really wanted to go back to the hostel and sleep peacefully but this old guy would not let me go. So I proposed to him, "I might have 20,000yen at the accommodation. And could you let me go with it?" "Well, O.K. You are my friend Satoshi. I give you a discount" I didn't totally agree with myself though, we got a tuk-tuk again and moved to the accommodation. Left him at the front, I entered the room and opened my locker. Yes, I found some Japanese yen notes. However, it was absurd to give him 20,000yen. I made up my mind to submit him 2 sheets of 5000 yen notes instead of the same number of 10,000 yen notes.

When I backed to the front, he somehow moved to the outside of the building. "Why? It's cool inside isn't it?", bluffed a little but very sincerely I showed him a decorated small bag. "I'm sorry I thought I had 2 Japanese notes but both of them are actually 5000 yen". "Not enough." said he but picked the cash extremely fast again. Well, that was problematic. It was going to far exceed my budget.

The final word was uttered, "Uh, I gonna ask the people at the accommodation to borrow some". No sooner had I mumbled the phrase than he changed his attitude completely. "Well, it's enough. I'm sleepy and I'll go back to my hotel." "Oh, thank you. Is it really OK for you?" I thankfully posed to Schad who was drawing his feet back. I assume it must have been more than enough even though it eventually became half price of the initial demand.

At the night, I fell asleep wearily as I was just disappointed myself who made such a blunder on the first day of the trip. The shock remained the next day too and I didn't feel like going out. After all, I rationalised myself as the total cost includes an extra fee for a personal guided tour and a travel lesson as well as drinking at the bar. I reasoned to myself and so I was able to tour around Bangkok on the next day.

After all, I should make use of this experience for the future. What I learnt from this incident is "Be very careful with someone who tries to talk on the street" and "Go to the bar which has cash-on system or clear fee table if it's really necessary". I know they are common sense of travellers but maybe I was affected by a fever in Bangkok which was indeed the first destination of this trip. Well, the price I lost was actually not too bad and anyway physically I’m unharmed. I'll take this lesson for this trip afterwards. I guess 20,000 yen is still a big deal though.

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