Quick stopover in Bangkok and an even shorter visit to the floating market...

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July 1st 2013
Published: August 23rd 2013
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I have to say I was a little bit sceptical about our journey to Bangkok. After reading so many stories about bad experiences while travelling by bus in Thailand, things getting stolen and all that, I was wondering what kind of bus we would be getting in after booking our tickets at the hotel. There were no reliable agencies around, so it was either booking through our hotel or some totally random agency... Well… Easy choice… Hotel seemed like a better idea I guess. I started thinking that maybe it was best not to read anything at all as once again it looked like I was stressing out for nothing. Once the bus pulled up right in front of us all I could think was ‘what on earth were these people talking about?’. It was brand new and since I was one of the first people on the bus I chose some very good seats with a lot of leg space, looked like it was going to be a pretty comfortable journey! And it was! Slept right through it! Obviously it wasn’t the same kind of rest I would get sleeping in a bed, still I managed to catch a good few hours of sleep. It seemed that the driver was in a hurry as we got to Bangkok before time, at 5 in the morning! It looked like the city didn’t even go to sleep yet, as we passed quite a few party-goers totally wasted of course (and looking kind of lost as well) on the streets. Ah well… Still we thought it was best to stay somewhere in town, so started walking around Khao San Road looking for a guesthouse. Since we arrived so early we were sure that we would have to wait until late morning to get a room but thankfully we were wrong and were able to check in straight away. Pheeew… 😊

We couldn’t exactly do much at 5 in the morning so it was a good excuse to rest a bit more. After breakfast we headed straight to the Vietnamese Embassy to arrange our visas. Well it couldn’t have been any easier to apply for it – we filled in the forms, handed them in together with the photos to a ‘super-friendly’ guy sitting behind the counter and were told to pick up our passports in three days. What? We certainly
plenty of these in Bangkok...plenty of these in Bangkok...plenty of these in Bangkok...

...hmmmm... will this one try to scam us as well?
didn’t want to stay that long in Bangkok, we had enough of the chaos after Patong and just needed some peace and quiet for a change. We asked if it was possible to have it done the same day, as apparently it was (or so I’ve read again!), well… not that day I guess… still after some begging the guy finally agreed to have the visas ready for the next day afternoon. And all that for a ‘small’ price of 2,500 baht per person of course! Total rip off! Well… At least it was sorted… Half-sorted that is as I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable until I had my passport with the visa in my pocket. Until then, a bit of anxiety and patiently waiting… If I only knew what patience meant… haha! 😉

Later on we just went to Khao San Rd. We weren’t exactly keen on doing much sightseeing that day, just wander around, maybe book something for the next day and definitely book a train to Chiang Mai. We visited one of the temples nearby and at some point we thought that maybe it was closed or maybe we weren’t allowed to go there as there were no other people around. And when suddenly one guy started coming towards us and saying something, I really thought we would be kicked out any moment now. It turned out that the guy was actually working there and just came over for a chat. He asked us the usual questions, where we were from, how long we were staying in Bangkok and where we were going next. We tried not to get in conversation too much as usually it lead to someone trying to sell us something. We did say that we were going to Chiang Mai soon though and as soon as we said that he started saying that we should be very careful which agency we were booking with as there were lots of scams around and all that… It got me worried as all I have been reading so far about Bangkok was how everyone was trying to scam you on each step. So once he said that there was a government-run tourist information nearby which was very reliable, we thought that maybe it was worth a visit. The guy did seem trustworthy so we thought we would give it a try. Then he said that maybe we should take a tuk-tuk to take us there and later on visit a couple of places around. He said that he would even catch a reliable government tuk-tuk to take us to the tourist office and some other sights for 10 baht each. Once he said that I thought that something was just a bit wrong in here and that the guy was becoming a bit too helpful… Were we getting scammed by a guy who was warning us of scams??? Anyway… It was too late to back out now as by some strange coincidence an empty government tuk-tuk (with a yellow flag) was just coming our way and before we knew it we were at the tourist office. It did look quite decent but it kind of smelled like a rip-off-kind-of-place from the very beginning. Not to mention that the guy we were talking to there seemed to be a bit deaf as we were asking for train tickets to Chiang Mai but for some strange reason he was offering to us a whole 5-day package from Bangkok all the way to Luang Prabang with a slowboat through Mekong, elephant trekking and sleeping in a jungle... And all that for only 10,000 baht! Sorry man, but that just wouldn’t do for us! But we were surely to come back if we changed our minds… as if! Ok, so the first stop wasn’t exactly that successful… Our driver said then that he would take us to another place where tickets were much cheaper – an agent for Thai people apparently, but first a visit to big Buddha. We weren’t exactly convinced, still thought we would give our tuk-tuk driver another chance. So after seeing the big Buddha we headed to another tourist office. Well… What can I say? Same, same… Almost… As again they only had packages on offer rather than rail tickets only. Well, I seriously wasn’t in the mood to be moving around from one agent to the other and on top of that it started raining like crazy! It actually turned out to be a good excuse to call off our tour. We were dropped off with a smile at Khao San Rd, paid 10 baht each and said goodbye to our driver. At least the 10 baht part turned out to be true. Later on we couldn’t help but notice that we might have been driving the only government tuk-tuk in town as we certainly haven’t come across any other ones that day. Hmmm… Lucky us! 😉 At this point I was just way beyond paranoid about scams everywhere so was actually dying to get out of Bangkok… So later on we just stuck to Khao San Rd, booked our train tickets to Chiang Mai through some random agency (yep! scam or no scam, I just couldn’t care less anymore) and a trip to a floating market for the next day. Then a couple of badly needed beers and we called it a night quite early, totally exhausted!

I have to say I was really excited to be going to the floating market as it was definitely one of the images that was always on my mind when thinking about Thailand. So even though most of the actual tour would be driving to and from the market (as it was a good few kilometres away from Bangkok) I was still looking forward to it. Once we got to the market we had about over an hour to wander around it. First I thought it wasn’t going to be enough but
pretty nice tuk-tuk driver and it did cost us 10 baht each...pretty nice tuk-tuk driver and it did cost us 10 baht each...pretty nice tuk-tuk driver and it did cost us 10 baht each...

...still couldn't help but feel scammed...
it was actually just about enough time. I have to say I was a bit disappointed at the market at first. It looked very small and since we opted to walk around it rather than take a boat, straight away we were bombarded with all sorts of offers all around: ‘mam, buy something’, ‘mam, have a look at my goods please’. But then, wasn’t that the general idea to come to the market to actually buy something? Ah well… I wouldn’t get discouraged that fast. Once we started walking around, I started appreciating the place a bit more. After all most of these people were just simply trying to make a living selling their goods! What can you say when you see an old wrinkled and almost toothless granny trying to sell you a bunch of bananas for 10 baht? She certainly is not trying to rip you off… The more I was looking around, the more I liked this place. It was funny to see all the tourists crammed on boats, constantly being offered goods from other boats passing them by on the canals. I was glad I wasn’t sitting in one of those boats as at least we had more time to walk around the place. Beside that it turned out that we had a boat ride included in the tour as well. It was a faster boat which instead of taking us through the canals around the market, took us through some side canals and eventually brought us to some touristy place with cobra show. Hmmm… I don’t think this attraction was mentioned at the time of booking … Anyway… Whoever wanted to see the show had to pay extra of course. We weren’t interested in seeing that at all and headed to a nearby temple instead. And then it was time to go back to Bangkok.

We underestimated the traffic jams in Bangkok a bit and didn’t make it on time to the Vietnamese Embassy to pick up our passports. I wasn’t exactly too happy about that to say the least. Our train was leaving the next day in the afternoon so we still had time to pick up our visas in the morning, still I just absolutely hate leaving things like that for the last moment! I guess there was nothing else we could do then, so there was no point in worrying – I kind of needed to be reminded of that though. 😉 All we could do that evening was to wander around a bit more, have a meal and a couple of drinks to wash it down nicely. The next day we picked up our visas and were back in town with plenty of time left in our pockets before the departure of our train. Pheeeew… All sorted then! Even though we didn’t do much sightseeing in Bangkok ad didn’t taste the nightlife in this crazy city, we certainly didn’t have any regrets in not doing any of that. Next time maybe? Who knows… I have a feeling I might be back here someday… For now it was time to head to our next destination . We were more than ready to go Chiang Mai!

Additional photos below
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23rd August 2013

Bangkok Scams
I'm sorry to hear about all the attempted scams in Bangkok, but they seem small (to me at least) compared to Hanoi in Vietnam, and it sounds like you will be in Vietnam next. Be especially careful in Hanoi of booking through the fake Sinh Tourists. One of them even goes so far as to put a fake street number up to make you think it is the real one across the street, this is in addition to hundreds of them stealing the signs and the names etc. Also beware of people offering to fix your shoe, taxi's where the meters suddenly jump for no reasons, gas stations where they pump your gas on top of the bill the previous person already paid, etc, etc... Still Vietnam is an incredible place, enjoy!
24th August 2013

Thanks for the warning :-) we've been to hanoi already, slightly behind with my blogs... We totally avoided sinh tours and you're very right! they are on every corner so you wouldn't even know which one is the real one... Thanks for reading!
24th August 2013
lovely old lady at the floating market

Floating market
Very nice photo
24th August 2013

I really liked Bangkok very much. I have been there twice. It´s a good connection when you are travelling in SEA. I miss the food. Nice people. Nice atmosphere, friendly city.

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