Saturday, December 1, 2012

MY LOVE WITH TUK TUK'S - BANGKOK THAILAND

How lucky we were on our first trip to Bangkok. We had just visited the Royal Palace and were on the way to Wat Po, the awesome temple with the giant sleeping Buddha. We had our guide book and map ready and left the grounds of the Royal Palace when a friendly tuk tuk driver made fun of my short hair. He said I looked like a monk, which was funny, and we got into talking, still being happy that we even found such a helpful English-speaking guy. 

The conversation went something like this:

Tuk Tuk driver: where are you from?
Me: Germany
Tuk Tuk driver: from Munich?
Me: wow...how did you know?
Tuk Tuk driver: my wife lives in Munich
Me: oh really? what a coincidence ...where does she live?
Tuk Tuk driver: I don't know the part of the city, but she works in that ...big street...in the center...
Me: Leopold Street?
Tuk Tuk driver: YES YES...that is where she works as a hair dresser....I hope to visit her next year, but we are still saving money. 

Still amazed that we found a nice guy like him, we asked where Wat Po was...

Tuk Tuk driver: it is right over there...but...it is closed today.
Me: Really? Why?
Tuk Tuk driver: it is a Buddhist holiday, so it is only open for prayers...
Me: Oh man!!! bummer!!! can we look from outside?
Tuk Tuk driver: No, the street is closed...you know...police...
Me: hmmm...too bad, we really wanted to see it...
Tuk Tuk driver: I can show you a different temple, which is open today and it has a big Buddha too. 
Me: Oh really?.....hmmmm....how much does it cost?
Tuk Tuk driver: only 40 Baht, for you...because you are from the city where my wife lives. Maybe we can be friends and you can show me Munich when I visit...
Me: s...s....sure....yes...40 Baht? hmmm...ok but not more, right?
Tuk Tuk driver: No No...because today is a big promotion day from the government. If I drive you, I get free gasoline. You only have to stop quickly to say that you are a tourist. 40 Baht for you!!
Me: OK!

Off we went....into side streets and various directions with several U-turns. It seemed far, but we were not really that far from our initial place. However, it was too confusing to walk back He did show us a big temple, with a big standing Buddha. All happy, we took photos and were ready to go back. 

But we still had to stop at "the place" ...for the tourists...and he was going to show us another temple. Where his son is ordained as a monk. And we would be lucky because usually tourists would not see such detail....so, off we went. 

The temple where the son was supposed to be, was deserted. No monks and the driver was gone too. We looked around, rather lost and waited for him to come back. 

So the free gasoline promotion!!! Yes, we will do it...but quickly!!! Because we still had a long list of things to visit today. 

The quick stop turned out to be several shops...jewelry first...in and out in no time...we did not look like we were going to buy anything anyway. Next was an Indian tailor!!! Looky looky only...not buy...just look!! Sit down please. We made it pretty clear that we were not going to buy anything, so the owners got into an argument with the tuk tuk driver, who....looked more and more un-happy!

Finally we boarded the tuk tuk again and just said "Wat Po!!! NOW!!! and without another word, he drove us there. We got out and paid ...40 Baht...for .... 2 or 3 hours of wasted time and a bunch of experiences richer!

That was the last time I ever took a Tuk Tuk. Never trusted them again in Bangkok. Now, to put things into the right perspective: I love my tuk tuk drivers in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I took them in Phnom Penh and took them in Chiang Mai and other cities in Thailand. But Bangkok's tuk tuk drivers are all but a horrible experience in my memory. 

Oh...and Wat Po? Was open!!

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