Friday, August 19, 2016

Too Many Tormenting Tuk Tuks And Tourists In Bangkok.....

One of Bangkok's most famous tourist sites is The Grand Palace.  So yesterday we headed over that way.  What began as a residence for the Royal Family along with government offices and a temple is now one of the major tourist traps in Bangkok. Our taxi driver let us out amid rows of tourist buses that lined the streets as far as the eye could see. Hoards of tourists filled the streets as did tuk tuk drivers waiting to take their money.

Tons Of Tourists At The Big Palace

Everything Is Covered In Gold And Mirrors

And Marble Steps And Walkways

Almost immediately we were approached by one of the tuk tuk drivers.  Clyde and I were both wearing shorts but had long pants for him and a wrap for me inside of our backpack. Proper attire is required in the bigger temples here so we knew in advance we'd have to dress properly. The man pointed to our bare legs and quickly diverted our attention to a photo. He was trying to sell us clothes or fabric to wrap around our legs but we assured him that we had what we needed.  Next he told us there was a one hour wait to get into the palace, a typical scam used here on unknowing tourists. These scam artists tell tourists that either the temple is closed or there is a long wait time, then offering them an expensive tour around the city. But since I had done my homework prior to our visit I knew what was going on. We walked toward the palace ignoring the pushy tuk tuk drivers that were in our face along the way. I have to admit it was quite overwhelming and I was ready to hop back into a taxi and high tail it out of there without seeing the palace, but we continued onward

Finally Inside With Shoes Off

As we approached the grounds of the palace there was an announcement being broadcast loudly in English for all to hear.  It said something to the effect of, "do not trust anyone that tells you the palace is closed.  The palace is opened every day." Really?  So even the authorities know about these scammers yet they allow it to continue? We stepped aside for a minute for Clyde to put on his long pants over his shorts. I pulled out a lightweight scarf and wrapped it around my waist over my shorts, securing it around the belt loops. We were now ready to purchase tickets to enter the grounds of the palace for around $15 each....rather pricey for Thailand, but someone has to pay for all the gold and glitzy of the palace.

The Palace

A Royal Guard

Royal Thai Police

By the way we talked to several taxi drivers and other locals about the Royal Family and the King.  Clyde asked one driver, "so do you like your King?"  His response was, "oh I don't like my King I love him and want him to live forever."  Turns out the present King is 88 years old and has been in the hospital for five years now.  The King has served Thailand for 70 years now as King and no one wants to discuss who will take over upon his death. The Thai people love their King, Queen and the Royal Family.  One driver said he didn't want to even think about the King's death and who would follow in his footsteps.  I asked about his children and the driver said that his son was no good but perhaps his daughter would make a good Queen when her father passes. 

Back to our travels, we walked around the palace until we'd seen it all and then headed out into the hoards of taxi and tuk tuk drivers once again. Clyde stopped a few drivers asking them to take us to other places around the city but all responded with some crazy price, so we kept going. It seemed that all of the drivers wanted to only take tourists to nearby sites to get more money out of them.  So we walked and walked until we found a restaurant for lunch and then walked some more until we were out of the palace crowds. 

A Wedding Dress

Since we needed some groceries to bring back to our little apartment we flagged down a taxi to take us to Tesco Lotus, the local department store with food. In the meantime a policeman on motorcycle pulled up onto the sidewalk next to us. He asked, "so do you know where you're going or do you need help?"  We inquired about Tesco for food but he insisted we go to a Thai restaurant that he liked, but that was not what we were looking for. He drove off and a few minutes later he pulled up again and gave us a phone number.  He introduced himself as the "tourist police" and said if we had any problems we should call their number as they all speak English.

We hopped into a taxi and finally made our way to Tesco, after being stuck in traffic for a while.  Grocery shopping was quite the experience here as it usually is when we travel.  In fact I really enjoy going into foreign grocery stores to see what they carry and for how much.

Produce was unusual with some things we didn't recognize.  Tamarind is commonly used here in sauces so there were ample displays of the stuff near the produce.  Tamarind is something we'd never heard of until we bought the house in Panama which had a tamarind tree in the yard.  Raw meats were displayed in open refrigerated bins with tongs allowing the customer to serve himself.  The bakery section was small with little in the way of yummy looking sweets as was the cookie aisle that had little to offer. There were however several aisles of dried noodles of every shape and size since they eat lots of noodles here.  Rice was another staple with plenty to choose from along with large displays of dried seaweed.  Seaweed seems to be everywhere here although we have no idea what they do with it? Bags of chips that say, "family sized" are tiny and would be a single serving or less in the states. But one thing we have learned from living outside the US is that ALL countries serve smaller portions and drinks in restaurants are NEVER refillable without paying again.

Inside Tesco Lotus Department Store
The Meat Counters....Self Service

1 Thai Bhat = 30 Cents If You Want To Figure Out Prices

After paying $48 for two large reusable bags of groceries we found a taxi to take us back to the apartment on the other side of the city.  Bangkok is a HUGE megalopolis and like any other big city there is LOTS of traffic.  We were stuck in traffic for what seemed like forever and the 20-30 minute ride took over an hour. Exhausted we dined on sandwiches and fell in to bed exhausted from another day of exploring Bangkok.

Lots Of Bottled Water.....They Don't Drink The Tap Water Here

Dried Seaweed

And More

Lays Potato Chips

The apartment we're renting here in on the Chao Phayra River and where there's water there are ferries so today we set out to find one. A short taxi ride dropped us off at the pier where we boarded an empty ferry boat.  But after a few shorts stops the tourists piled into the boat first filling up the seats and later standing in the aisles. Despite what I'd expected the boat ride was peaceful and it was nice to view Bangkok from the water. The fancier hotels along the river front seemed to have their own ferry boats plastered with their name.

Boarding The Ferry

Inside The Ferry

Life On The Water

After exiting the boat we walked around a different part of the city.  Eventually we were approached by a tuk tuk driver who offered us a tour around for only 40 bhat ($1.15).  The man spoke decent English and even wrote down the four or five stops we'd be taken to and gave the list to the driver. 
The driver spoke some English and after a few temples he suggested a stop at The Thai Tourist bureau so that we could buy tickets to see the floating market tomorrow.  It turns out this was a tour agency but since we really did want to visit a floating market along with an ancient city we booked a tour for tomorrow. Next the driver mentioned taking us to a Thai factory where they made custom clothing. Skeptical we questioned why and what there was to see there?  He insisted that we were under no obligation to buy but we could have a custom made suit or any other clothing there made to fit us for a low price. Against my wishes we entered into a exclusive tailor shop lined with fabric samples and well dressed salesman offering to make Clyde short sleeved shirts for around $8. Quickly we made our way to the door and back to our tuk tuk.  Unbeknownst to us the driver gets a kick back from these shops that he makes us go into.  Ok so we did our part and stopped at one tailor shop.  But when our driver insisted that we stop at yet another tailor shop to, "help him out," I started to complain.  Clyde agreed to enter the shop while I choose to stay in the tuk tuk with the driver.  The driver became upset and begged and pleaded with me to go into the shop for just ten minutes so reluctantly I did.  But as I approached the shops door there was Clyde coming out, so I was saved or so I thought.  The next few minutes were ugly and the driver continued to push the tailor thing on us and I grew more angry, explaining that we were in no position to shop. We are after all travelling with ONLY two small suitcases each, space is limited so there is absolutely NO reason to shop, especially not for custom made clothing. Finally Clyde asked the driver to stop the tuk tuk and said, "we're getting out here and handed him the 40 bhat."

A Fort

These Are For Good Luck

The Big Buddha

Urns With Human Remains Line The Walls

Someone On Display
He Looked Real

Steps Up The Side Of Big Buddha

Tiny Looking People In Between Feet Of Big Buddha

This Little Girl Came Running Over To Us And Said
Welcome To Thailand In English

Lunch Time Restaurant

Chicken, Veggies And Rice For $6....Pricey For Thailand

We stopped for lunch and eventually made our way back to the apartment where we cooked some chicken and veggies. We are turning in early tonight since we have to get up before daybreak for our full day tour tomorrow.  Little did we realize that visits to the floating markets must be done early in the morning, so we're meeting up with our tour guide and group at 6:15am, and this will be after a taxi drive to the meeting point.  Stay tuned for more adventures, photos and excitement as we explore more of Bangkok, Thailand......along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

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