A Travellerspoint blog

Taking extremes to an exteme.

Post by Mr. Shah

sunny 38 °C

Boom Boom Boom, this is Mr. Shah (for now?) checking in.

After feeling nostalgic about my time traveling in Ghana and India I realized early last year that I needed to go somewhere again. I didn't know where but I just wanted to get up and explore! The opportunity wasn't coming and whether it was finding someone to go with, the price, priorities at home and so on, there was always something holding me back. Finally when Vij told me he wanted to go somewhere also, I knew that I had to take this opportunity and go! Since 2013 began I've been fortunate to mix work and play with some mini-trips to Los Angeles, Arizona, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Missouri, but this time it was going to be all play. As I got off the plane and onto the sky train, it finally kicked in. I'm in Bangkok! This city of extremes caters to everyone no matter what their interest is. The days are filled with religious bliss amongst the hustle of one of the shopping meccas of Asia and the nights, well, that's another type of bliss in itself. Whether you head to the infamous Khao son road, where you can party with travelers from all over the world, or to route 666 to party with Bangkok's local elite, you'll be in for a good time. Me and the vijilante were fortunate enough to experience both the past two nights and had a blast. Keep in mind that the last two days were a Sunday and a Monday! I can't really describe it but this city is absolutely nuts and there is something going on each night of the week. My mind is being blown every second and luckily the cleanliness and so far *knock on wood* the safe atmosphere of the city allow me to enjoy my time. The heat in the day is something that can tire you very quickly but it didn't stop us from visiting the Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew). I was surprised to learn of the Hindu influence in this major temple as there was the entire Ramayan, a classic Hindu tale of the Gods, that was painted across the walls. The hour long tour was awesome and allowed us to actually learn about the history. Being Jain myself, which has many close ties to Buddhism, seeing the Emerald Buddha was an incredible experience. Not as calm as I would have hoped though with the many travelers. Meeting other travelers is another experience in itself. You'll see them all over Bangkok. Some are here for long periods of time exploring all of southeast asia and some are just here to party. The food here is also reaaaaally good! I thought being a Vegetarian in Thailand would make diet an issue on this trip but so far I'm doing better than fine. The rest of thailand is likely to be another issue but we'll see when I get to the other spots. For now I'm just taking it all in and maybe way too excited for my own good. If any of you reading this have ever contemplated going somewhere, just go! Even if you have to go at it alone, you'll meet so many people along the way. It doesn't matter if you want to go for 2 weeks or 2 years, or want to stay a hostel or a hotel, there are different ways to explore each place and ways that cater to you! Every experience is good in its own way. Traveling for me just opens up my mind and refreshes it. It's almost therapeutic in a way. It allows me to step out of my comfort level and tests me in different ways. I can't really put it into words but loving it would be an understatement. Anyways our little rest break, which we usually take from 5-7 after being out for the whole day, is almost over and so is this blog post. I'm surprised that I can actually put my experience into words right now. I'm keeping a journal, something I didn't do in Ghana and India and wished I had, and in it my entries are a bunch of random thoughts on paper. I guess I'll need a nickname, Mr. Shah is pretty boring, but I'll pick one up as I go along. Time to hit the town for a third night in a row!

Posted by 21pshah 03:52 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Boom Boom

You can take the man out of a Tuk Tuk but you can't take the Tuk Tuk out of the man

sunny 37 °C

The Tuk Tuk driver. The fun, breeze filled, authentic Thai experience that's an alternative to an Air Conditioned Taxi. Thailand's equivilant to a rickshaw, but the vehicle is about the only thing that is the same.

Bangkok has created the most persistent species ever known to man. The Tuk Tuk and its driver. A force to be reckoned with on the streets of Bangkok. They catch a sniff and hunt their prey down following you on the streets if you give them even an inkling of hope, they are professionals at what they do. Their smooth talking and elaborate well designed scams will put you in a state of disbelief and you won't know you're being scammed until about 10 minutes into the conversation (and this is too a well trained eye).

Now I think I have lots of street smarts, I'm a man of Kijiji since day 1, shady and sketch deals are a habit of nature. I read blogs posts endlessly and scoured through the lonely planet guide to south east asia and even read the hotel warnings for tourists. Yet despite all that preparation the real world was a lot more devious.

Here lies the story of when we were (almost) scammed by a tuk tuk driver.

So here are some rules of the road when dealing with Tuk Tuk's

rule 1: The Wat Prakew (Grand Palace) never closes for tourists.

Rule 2: 10 Baht for a taxi is always a too good to be true price

Rule 3: Don't listen to tuk tuk drivers when they tell you they have family where you're from

So what happened to us...

The Vijilante, trained with an eye and years of tour guiding experience, decides to trek it out to the Grand Palace on foot, almost there and looking a bit confused at an intersection a "local" comes out to provide some assistance. Their happened to be a map where we were standing and he made friendly talk and asked us where we were going. Upon small talk he us

OH NO YOU CAN'T GO NOW! 2:30! Nowis a temple festival for the locals and tourists can only go after 2:30

Quite a viable story so far, makes a bit of sense, it's hot weather, the guy hasn't asked for anything so therefore he must be just kind hearted. Story number 2, Mr Stranger (who mentions he's from Vancouver, note rule #3) lets us know that

last night on channel 7 you know they give tourists special visit to local sights and tourist center for only 10 Baht per person (Rule #2) for a 2 hour Tuk Tuk ride, ONLY yellow plates no blue no green, student 40% discount!, Now at the words of discount my knees get a bit weak and I fall for the ploy, 10 Baht for 5 visits and it's not like we have anything else to do! And he wasn't a tuk tuk driver, just a friendly local, why would he scam us? Right. Next up, he lets us "go" only to notice we were looking for a Tuk Tuk with a yellow plate and he happened to once again come to the rescue.

Enter Tuk Tuk around the corner. So by this point we're on the way to the largest Buddha in town, and once we've sat in the car, my spidy senses start tingling and I realize the breadth of what just happened. I laugh, explain to the other two what's going to happen, and surely enough after the first visit the Tuk Tuk driver wants to take us to a jewlery shop where they would try to sell us a bunch of fake gemstones under the infamous Thai Gem Scam. But the vijilante isn't going to fall for such tactics and we ditched the Tuk Tuk.

We fell for the oldest and most perfected trick in the book. Nevertheless, the Tuk Tuk is SOO MUCH FUN! It was a pretty crazy ride weaving through the streets in a dressed up Tuk Tuk like they have on Indian Rickshaws. I'll post up a video soon, and hey we still got to see a few sights for free, so that's a win in my book.

This trend and personality of a tuk tuk and their accomplices were apparant throughout several other encounters. It's a conspiracy, everyone is linked and its a comission based world. From the doorman of a 5 star hotel, to disguised bystanders on the roadside, to the insanely cute 5 year old selling roses at 2 in the morning, everyone's out to make a living. It truely is a hard knock life here.

Time to go and check if Mr. Shah's awake so we can get this day started, more to come during our afternoon rest session on yesterday's adventures at the Grand Palace, 55th floor rooftop bar and Khao San Road! The plan for today is to get our tickets for a 12 hour bus to the southern islands, possibly hit up a muay thai fight and check out the water market!

-The Vijilante

Talks about the crazy gem scam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9BvNZKv-w0

Posted by desiallstar 20:41 Archived in Thailand Tagged #tuktuk #grandpalace #scamartists Comments (0)

Photo Blast!

sunny 36 °C

Learned how to add photos! Check over on the right for the latest and greatest-->

Posted by desiallstar 03:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged #photos Comments (0)

On the fly

Plans are anything but set in stone

sunny 34 °C

Good afternoon! I have absolutely no idea what the time is there in Toronto as we've missed about 2 days worth of nights, moving from city to city. Henceforth, my ability to tell you the time and day of the week is completely eradicated.

So already we've been deviating and modifying our travel itinerary posted earlier. While at a 5 hour stopover in Paris we decided that hanging out in the airport with 15 min of free wifi wasn't going to be our cup of tea, although Paris had the most beautiful bathroom I have ever been in. So instead we decided to venture off on the metro to catch a quick glimpse of the Eiffel Tower with hopes to climb it. Took about an hour and a half and some pretty amazing weather and graffiti covered walls before we were there. But the view was definitely amazing and very worth the 20 pound ticket cost for the subway. But I guess those of you who've already been there know in advance that our plan was futile, the line to get tickets or go up the stairs was ridiculous to say the least. So we did the scenic cheap route instead and just took tons of pictures, making it seem like we're pinching the tip. Once again pictures to come, still trying to figure out how to sync these computers to my iphone pics.

So now we're chilling and taking a nap throughout the midday heat in the hostel lobby because they for some reason turn the AC off between 12 and 6. The hostel itself is a great looking little hub that's stuffed in the middle of the local market. But the day has been awesome so far, here's a list of highlights:

-Subway
The most cleanest, like squeaky clean surfaces and steel finishes on everything, the subway is definitely well designed, the TTC could take a hint or two

-Tuk Tuk Drivers
They.do.not.give.up. These have got to be one of the worlds best salesmen, they literally do not give up on a sale and are willing to go to great lengths to hook you up with the top tourist attractions or guide you around the corner. But we'll be wary, we're not falling for their tricks.

- KHO SAN ROAD!

  • note to self* from now on when people tell you to not bring anything but the clothes on your back, it would be wise to listen, Kho San Road is a bargain shoppers haven from clothes, backpacks, sunglasses and food. The local 7/11 sells water for 9 Baht (30 Baht to a dollar) and local Singha Beer for 30 Baht (tastes like bud)

-Food
Still working on deciphering the food venders here, had a safe option today with the Chicken Pad Thai, hoping to get more adventurous, sort of hard on Kho San road as they cater to the Westerners with their version of BK, KFC and SubWay. There was however, an interesting vendor selling chocolate covered scorpions, don't think I'll be getting that adventurous.

-Massage
So they may not be RMT but for a street massage for 120 Baht for 30 min (~$4) it was pretty damn relaxing

-Tattoos
Relax, I didn't get a real tattoo, only a henna tattoo, the 19 year old guy supporting himself for the last 5 years as part of a family business made quite a convincing case, and I could use a mini 2 week timepiece on my right arm for the beach weather (pics to come)

This was only half of day one, excited to see how the rest of the day will pan out, as soon as the heat wave (which isn't all that bad) dies out we'll venture back out on the streets of Bangkok. Time to nap out at nappark :)

-Vijilante

Posted by desiallstar 02:28 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Travel Itinerary

This was well overdue and had to precede any adventure talk!

Travel Itinerary:

May 17-19th: Flight to Bangkok via Paris
May 19th- 22nd( Wed): Arrival and time to spend in Bangkok
May 22st (overnight to ko phangan/ko samui)
May 23rd - May 27: Kho Phagan
May 26-27th: Ko samui
May 28-May 31: Islands in the South
1st: Phuket to chaing mai flight in the morning
June 1-4: Chaing mai
June 5-7: Angkor Wat in Cambodia
June 8: Back to Bangkok
9th: Flight from Bangkok to Amsterdam
10-11: Time in Amsterdam
11-13: Staying in Berlin
14-15: Staying in Prague
15th night: Travel overnight to Amsterdam
16th : Fly out to Toronto

Posted by desiallstar 02:23 Comments (0)

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