Introducing the Bangkok And Southern Thailand Academy of Rip-off’s, Deviousness and Scams

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March 24th 2007
Published: August 8th 2007
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Welcome to Bangkok - the Unfriendliest Place in AsiaWelcome to Bangkok - the Unfriendliest Place in AsiaWelcome to Bangkok - the Unfriendliest Place in Asia

We loved the city. Some great architecture - French Colonial and contemporary alike. The food was plentiful and fabulous. It has a great transport system - including canals and river taxi's. Unfortunately, most of the staff involved in the service industries seem to have a serious and obvious dislike of their jobs/ foreigners/ their lives generally. With faces like bulldogs chewing on wasps, the people involved in Bangkok's tourism industry really need to lighten up. Oh, and if you want to get robbed or scammed - this is the place for you.
Travelling in Asia has broadened my mind. Every hat I try on is a few sizes too small.
I need a hat though; otherwise I get light headed and swear more.

I’m lucky because if an occasion should arise where I needed to describe my necessity for a hat to someone who could only communicate using a dictionary, my page flicking finger would be saved because “sweat” and “swear” are on the same page.

Since the hats are all too small I get left with a red halo mark round my forehead that looks like I might have carefully designed my sunburn using sunscreen and masking tape.

I haven’t even got any masking tape. I’ve got some duck tape. Vikki says it’s not duck tape; it’s duct tape. I’m saving it for the ducks though.

You don’t see many ducks in Bangkok. The ones you do see are normally crispy. I always assumed they’d been roasted in an oven but maybe their hats don’t fit properly.

If they met a person who could only communicate using a dictionary, ducks would get frustrated as not only do they not have page flicking fingers, as far as I’m
Khoa San Road, BangkokKhoa San Road, BangkokKhoa San Road, Bangkok

If you want to get pissed, never meet anyone from Thailand, have your hair braided and hang around with large groups of sweating foreigners - this is the place for you. Just don't expect service with a smile.
aware they also do not swear and I’ve never seen a sweaty duck.

As I pondered this, a man approached me. He was a tall man - as tall as me, with a long flowing blond locks and slightly grubby black rimmed glasses. He carried a large red, hard backed book in one hand.

I looked at him.

He looked at me.

Then he hit me with the book.

“Read this”, he said, “and wake up”.

So I did.

What follows is an exert from the book that I didn’t realise existed until I heard it quoted from on several occasions:

Understanding the Tourist Mind: The Bangkok Scammers Handbook


This handbook is made available to its students by the Bangkok And Southern Thailand Academy of Rip-off’s, Deviousness and Scams (BASTARDS).
It is designed with the purpose of establishing a set of standard methods by which members can fully help tourists release the potential within their overburdened wallets.
For the most part, it follows the principles of a complex scam, which leaves the target tourist wondering what possessed them to exchange the contents of their wallet for a large
Street Stalls and Colony Housing, BangkokStreet Stalls and Colony Housing, BangkokStreet Stalls and Colony Housing, Bangkok

This is what most of the more original architecture in Bangkok is like. A bit grubby with stalls all over the pavements infront of it.
quantity of fake gems / counterfeit designer clothing.

We hope that by following this guide students will gain a better understanding of the relatively simple and naïve device that is the tourist’s brain. Please note that the diagram of a naïve tourists brain on page 74 is to scale and that, for those of you with a cheap photocopy of this handbook, the input arrow labelled “Big Fat Lies” should be red while the output arrow labelled “Give Money to the Friendly Local” should be green.

Remember, Tourists who are new to Bangkok are instinctively trusting. Using this against them is the key to our business.

Counterfeit and stolen copies of this handbook are available from all dodgy backstreet black-market vendors. Possession of an original is considered a breach of the BASTARDS code of conduct.

Happy Scamming,


1. The Approach

Identify target and initiate conversation using one of these tried and tested methods:

A - State the Obvious

“You very tall”
Testing conducted by South East Asian scientists in white jackets with pipette’s and Bunsen burners has shown that tourists are usually taller than the average Asian. This
The Centre of Khoa San RoadThe Centre of Khoa San RoadThe Centre of Khoa San Road

This is my hell...
has the advantage that a) they are easier to spot and b) messages between their brain and the hand that takes cash from their money belt can be slow and become confused.

B - Demonstrate a Knowledge of their Country

“Where you from?”
A list of countries, their capital cities, populations and some common phrases are attached as Appendix A.
Be overly enthusiastic with your reaction to their response. Imagine you were there last week and have yet to recover from the excitement - even if it is just Scotland.
“Where you from?”
“Capital city Edinburr! Population 6 million! Och Aye Jimmy!”

C - Stereotype

A more daring approach, this takes time to master since most foreigners look exactly the same. However, once you have a handle on the subtle differences between them a correct guess is as good as a handshake.
A computer program, prepared by the technicians in our Hacking & Viruses lab, that guesses nationalities based on the results of your inputs is included with this Handbook. (If the CD is not on the front cover please threaten the family of the vendor you stole it from.)
When you load up
Khoa San Road, BangkokKhoa San Road, BangkokKhoa San Road, Bangkok

This is not Asia.
the program it will ask you for some simple characteristics of your target tourist before giving you a percentage rating.
Height - Giant
Hair - Long, Blonde
Distinctive Features - Glasses
Nationality Based on Input - 99.7%!G(MISSING)erman, (definitely not Scottish)

2. Establishing Suitability

The following is a list of questions designed to establish whether the tourist you have approached is naïve enough to fall for anything you tell them. Select an answer as close to that given by your target and then add up the totals at the end.

“How long have you been in Bangkok?”
a.More than three days
b.Less than three days
c.Since the sun was over there.

“Is this your first time in Bangkok?”
c.I don’t know.

“Where will you go next?”
a.Far away from you, you scheming little turd.
b.I’m going to Chiang Mai.
c.I don’t believe in an afterlife.

“Where are you going now?”
a.To find someone to hold you down while I tattoo “BASTARD” to your forehead.
b.To my hotel.
c.The Beach.

If your tourist responded mainly with “a” - look disgusted and leave now. Your only hope is to make them
Night Moves - Khoa San Road, BangkokNight Moves - Khoa San Road, BangkokNight Moves - Khoa San Road, Bangkok

Let's play spot the Thai... It may be my own personal hell, but taking photgraphs of it was addictive.
wonder if you really were that rarity, a genuinely friendly Bangkoker.
If your tourist responded mainly with “b” - there is hope: persevere and they may crack.
If your tourist responded mainly with “c” - Just ask them for the money now. Tell them anything - eg.”Your hair is on fire, lets use your bank notes to smother the flames”.

3. The Pitch

First divert the tourist away from his/her original plan:
Try the conventional:
“Going to the Royal Palace? Oh, didn’t you know that it’s closed today?”
“Going to Wat Pho? Oh, I’m afraid it’s Thai people only today.”
Failing that try the more drastic:
“You can’t go there - leopards!”

Next, help them come up with a new plan:
“Did you know that today is a Buddhist holiday?”
(Even Buddhists don’t know when their holidays are because there are so many of them and they change date every year)
“Many Buddhist temples are open to tourists for free today - special incentive from government for tourists”.
(Remember to remain calm and composed as you tell these lies. Avoid excessive twitching, grabbing your crotch and heavy breathing.)

Let them know how cheap this day could
The Best of Bangkok - Street FoodThe Best of Bangkok - Street FoodThe Best of Bangkok - Street Food

The street stalls are much better than the guesthouse restaurants. If you want to be ripped off, buy your food from your guesthouse. If you want to pay only 25-35 Baht for a good curry - try the street stalls. Round it off with a 10 Baht smoothie.
be for them:
“Today, government will pay tuk-tuk driver to take you to free sights for only 20 Baht.” (Improvise with the fare - just make sure it’s ludicrously low. Note: Don’t use negative figures as this will incur a cost to you)

Let them know what they should see:
“You must see Lucky Buddha!”
(Of course, every Buddha is lucky - but tourists don’t know this.)
“Do you have a map? Let me show you.”
(If they don’t have a map, tear up anything paper and draw one. Note: if you failed your first semester Basic Navigation with BASTARDS course please consider carrying pre-prepared material)

Gain their trust with insightful local knowledge:
“Only use official government registered tuk-tuks; they have a yellow licence plate”
(The fact that every tuk-tuk has a yellow license plate is neither here nor there)
“The record shop next to the Lucky Buddha has the best Terrence Trent Darby back catalogue in town”.

The book goes on.

I got bored.

Who falls for that stuff anyway?

Tourists that’s who. Not backpackers. Backpackers are clever; they’re no fools. They read the Lonely Planet. It has words AND pictures
Model Behaviour - BangkokModel Behaviour - BangkokModel Behaviour - Bangkok

We stumbled into a fashion show in one of the department stores. Before I knew it I was standing at the end of the catwalk, camera glued to my face like I was taking shots for the cover of Vogue.
AND maps. They know all the scams.

Backpackers don’t like to be called tourists because tourists are gullible, hang around in groups, wear ugly hats and pee in public toilets.

I wonder though about the logic of defining yourself by the device you use to transport your luggage. I’m yet to meet a “suitcaser” or a “sports holdaller”? Do electricians call themselves “toolboxers” and can you tell someone that a “portfolio caser” is designing a house for you? On my way home from Tesco’s I want to be more than a “plastic bagger” - it makes me sound like I suffocate puppies and small children.

Tourists “tour” while backpackers just “hook-up and travel together” - a bit like migrating ducks. What do you call a group of ducks anyway? Vik has suggested it’s a “doodle” of ducks. I like that. But as much as I’d like to be part of a “doodle” of backpackers, the idea of being in a “party” of tourists sounds much more fun. Its all balloons, jelly and marshmallows with smarties on top.

I have tourist visa’s in my passport. To me this is like an agreement between me and the country
An Evil DeityAn Evil DeityAn Evil Deity

Notice the Buddha like positioning of his sweaty McHands.
I’m visiting. It’s the country saying: “well, sure you can visit, but only if you can accept that you are a tourist; and we’ll be damned if we’re going to let a tourist stay for more than 30 days!”. We agree that I won’t hide LSD in my sock or be found packin’ a Magnum (because it would leave sticky chocolate and ice-cream patches on my cardigans) and the deal is closed with a stamping of my passport.

It’s official. I’m a tourist.

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I cannot recommend enough the following blog:
Dave and Jo are to travel blogging what Torvil and Dean were to bruised arses. (Now I read it again, that doesn't really make much sense) Suffice to say, they were our
I won't pretend that I remember what this was called...
I won't pretend that I remember what this was called...I won't pretend that I remember what this was called...I won't pretend that I remember what this was called...

Vik asked me to photograph it because of something to do with Star Trek?? Looks more Doctor Who to me. Anyway; whether it was or was not part of the set design on an early 70's sci-fi, it is now a roundabout island in Bangkok.

Vik asked me to photograph it because of something to do with Star Trek?? Looks more Doctor Who to me.
Anyway; whether it was or was not part of the set design on an early 70's sci-fi, it is now a r... trail blazers and a fine substitute for a lonely planet (or lack thereof) whilst in China. Just don't let Dave give you his opinions on climate change if you are easily offended...

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, BangkokReclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok
Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok

That is one giant chilled out Buddha. The photo doesn't do it justice, but this guy was massive... about this big (arms stretched out as far as they'll go). He didn't say much though and the ceiling was a bit low for him to stand-up.
Divers Eaten by Hungry Bass - Bangkok AquariumDivers Eaten by Hungry Bass - Bangkok Aquarium
Divers Eaten by Hungry Bass - Bangkok Aquarium

The Shark feeding at Bangkok Aquarium is disappointing. I expected blood, teeth and limbless divers - all I got was some docile four foot shark that disappeared with the prod of stick and several thousand hungry goldfish. Its like the time I went to the Golden Eagle feeding at Trafalgar Square.
Jellyfish - Aquarium, BangkokJellyfish - Aquarium, Bangkok
Jellyfish - Aquarium, Bangkok

I hate jellyfish, but they were more friendly than most of the people we encountered in Bangkok.
Ring for Service, The Royal Palace, BangkokRing for Service, The Royal Palace, Bangkok
Ring for Service, The Royal Palace, Bangkok

They like their big gold bells in Thailand.
Dental Care, The Royal Palace, BangkokDental Care, The Royal Palace, Bangkok
Dental Care, The Royal Palace, Bangkok

All he needed was a brace. No wonder he looks so angry now.
Mosaic Man, Royal Palace, BangkokMosaic Man, Royal Palace, Bangkok
Mosaic Man, Royal Palace, Bangkok

This guy suffered due to the ridiculously low roofs the ancient Thais insisted on putting on their Palaces.
Hello Moto!, Royal Palace, BangkokHello Moto!, Royal Palace, Bangkok
Hello Moto!, Royal Palace, Bangkok

Thousands of years of Art History rests on this phonecall: "So I said to him, "you no where you can stick your chrysanthemums!"...I flamin' did! I were so angry I were... Yeah I know...Mmmm...Yeah...I won't take him for love nor... Oh bugger! I've painted the bloomin' Buddha pink! Look Trace, better go - I've just castrated a God of Love and Fertility..."
Tailor Anybody?, Royal Palace, BangkokTailor Anybody?, Royal Palace, Bangkok
Tailor Anybody?, Royal Palace, Bangkok

"Psst. Gaz!" "Shut it will ya. Blokes tryin' t'take photo." "Nevermind that... I think me trousers jus split!".
THE Royal Palace, BangkokTHE Royal Palace, Bangkok
THE Royal Palace, Bangkok

Trees grow weird here.
Prayer Flags, Chiang MaiPrayer Flags, Chiang Mai
Prayer Flags, Chiang Mai

Susie's Banana Pancake Winning photograph made the grade and earned a place in the OB Gallery. Fame and Fortune awaits you Miss Brown!
Chiang Mai Gates Market, Chiang MaiChiang Mai Gates Market, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Gates Market, Chiang Mai

Check out the Black Mhong lady about to pounce. They offer bracelets, necklaces and wooden frogs. Clearly Accessorize are missing a trick.
Heeeere's Bob! Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang MaiHeeeere's Bob! Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai
Heeeere's Bob! Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai

Everybody, this is Susie. She's my wonderful and entrepreneurial sister-in-law who will be rich enough to lend us cash when we return from our travels. That's why I decided not to do away with her just yet... the knife went back in the draw immediately after the photo was taken.
Relight My Fire, Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang MaiRelight My Fire, Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai
Relight My Fire, Pad Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai

Everyone was impressed by the flames, but I told them that this always happens when I cook porridge. The cookery school was excellent. Highly recommended. Don't have breakfast before you go - you eat a lot. Cooking spring rolls is so rock n'roll... but mainly just roll.

10th April 2007

Rip off bastards talk pure shite.
Hiya.... loving your update here folks. When Al and I were in Bangkok, one guy came up to us as we approached the river for a deek, and told us we were not allowed down there incase we'd get eaten by crocodiles. Then he offered to take us round the city on his incredibly safe tuk tuk for only 500 quid or something. We ended up loving it as we got such a laugh at the extreme lies. I think maybe your Star Trek-esque photo looks more like Superman's home, the planet Krypton, where he went in the first movie to talk to his dead mum and dad. Au revior.
14th May 2007

Leave ducks alone...
Man, you brought tears to my eyes. This article is, as Mister Munkey put it, a gem. Indeed. And, apart from being a humor masterpiece, it conteins so many useful informations. I mean, I was really in the urge to know what to do in case my hair gets on fire while walking down Bangkok streets... now I know :-)
19th June 2007

To a "T!"
Boy, did you EVER hit the nail on the head with this one! Bankok, and Thai in general, tourism to a "T." I'm pretty sure I experienced every single line in "the book" at some point during my month in Thailand. I hated having to be so mean to get people out of my hair, but it definitely became easier with time. Within a couple weeks I was definitely likely to answer a) "Far away from youo, you scheming little turd." Great writing. Thanks!
15th August 2007

You are so hilarious!
You made me double up in laughter and have inspired me to write more travel blog (sniffandsnore) ... it gets tiring after a while but reading your articles has switched on the light at the end of the tunnel again!

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