Saturday, March 04, 2006

Last day in Bangkok

March 3rd, 2006:

Today was my last day in Bangkok. Three nights is too short: I'd aim for five if doing it again. I did get to see the infamous Koh San Road (backpacker mecca) but missed out on sights such as the Floating Market and the Grand Palace.
Speaking of the Grand Palace, if you go to see it, watch out for the Tuk-Tuk scam. One of the girls I met yesterday had heard about it but due to the smoothness of the conmen she and her friends still managed to get caught out by it(!) Basically, you go to Grand Palace and as you are entering the gates an official looking guy comes up to you and gives you the bad news that it is partially closed for a couple of hours at this time of the day and only Thais' are allowed to enter (that is a lie). Handily enough, though, there are some other touristy things you can do while you're waiting. He then calls over a Tuk-Tuk (think mini taxi which has been crossed with a motor bike (they're very popular in Bangkok)) and off ye go. The Tuk-Tuk driver is knowledgable about the area and helpfully knows some local tailors and jewlers where you can make a good deal and drives you to them. At this point the girls knew all was not right and wanted no more of it but got caught off guard when the driver started talking about Roy Keane! (a well known footballer from Cork) After another bit they demanded to be brought back but then had to haggle with the driver to reduce the bill for his services.
Apart from the Tuk-Tuk drivers be prepared to fend off suggestions about getting a suit (4 times it happened to me during my stay. I'm trying not to take it personally) and also if you mention that you’re travelling to somewhere outside of the city you will get suggestions from people who know people who work at hotels where you can get a great deal. These suggestions will even come from people in official jobs (airport staff, hotel staff, etc),. So, keep your wits about you!

The hotel I had stayed in was the Asia Hotel. I would definitely stay there again and it only cost 117 euro total, breakfast included, for the three nights per room (i.e., three people could have stayed there for three nights and only have spent about 40 euro each).

Last Bangkok tip: apart from avoiding the Lady Boys ( :) ), avoid also the traffic where possible 'cause the traffic can be brutal. If driving by taxi, take the inner city expressway where possible or go with the BTS (light rail system).

Overall, Bangkok was great. Some places you’d do once, but I definitely intend to return here.