Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bangkok: The City of Scam

Late July, the Harrington's continued their ticket around the world and flew from Cape Town, South Africa to Bangkok, Thailand. Having purchased tickets months prior to having confirmed positions in South Korea, the couple banked on Bangkok being the perfect stop over and jumping off point for whichever lucky Asian nation would get to welcome them as teachers. This then, is how the couple ended up in Bangkok, a city they knew little about but would soon form a strong opinion toward.

The first hardship the couple faced upon arriving in Thailand was the swealtering heat and humidity combination. Having just flown in from South Africa's cool winter months, monsoon season in Thailand felt nothing short of unbearable. Hoping to be spontaneous, the couple had few things planned for their weeks in Thailand. A few hours in Bangkok and a quick read through the guidebook revealed that leaving the city as quickly as possible would be in their best interest. Now, at this point, it is important to state that Bangkok is worth a visit and could be a fully enjoyable tourist destination for a day or so, however, there are some things a visitor must be aware of to make the trip enjoyable. Bangkok, became to the Harringtons, the City of Scams. The Lonely Planet Guidebook was a great resource in letting the Harrington's in on some of Bangkok's dirty little secrets and walking the streets of Bangkok brought such secrets to life.

So, should you travel to Bangkok, here are some things to be cognisent of in light of scams and scam artists:
  • In general, Thai people do not commonly approach foreigners. Therefore, when a Thai man is approaching you with impeccable English, be leary.
  • Sometimes an approaching Thai will be in a tuk-tuk or have a tuk-tuk driver and vehicle within in shouting distance, again be cautious - the team probably does not have your best interest in mind.
  • If a Thai man is well dressed and begins chatting with you, finding out where you are from and claiming to have family there, he is lying.
  • If a Thai man tells you there is a holiday or your destination is closed today, he is most likely lying. En Route to the Train Station, the Harrington's received two stories from two different scam-artists. The first claimed that the train station didn't sell tickets to foreigners but don't worry, his agency did! Minutes later, another man claimed that because it was Saturday, the train station was likely not open, how about the couple go to his tour agency. These are lies and those telling the lies should be ignored, walked away from, and given the evil eye if necessary.
  • Only use a tuk-tuk if you've hailed the driver, negotiated a price and clarified that there will be no stops.
  • Metered taxis are best. Don't allow a taxi driver to offer you a "flat rate with only one stop"
    - it will end in bad news for you.

By now, most readers are probably wondering what is the scam here, what happens if you give in to these friendly offers. More often than not what occurs is tourists are taken to numerous "gem stores" where they are shown beautiful gems for good prices. Tourists are told of the success that could be theirs if they purchase large amounts of gems and resell them in their home country. Of course, the gems are fakes and worth hardly anything so tourists return home to be more than disappointed by their purchases.

For these reasons, the persistent, friendly-well-dressed Thai men, the Harrington's wanted out of Bangkok.

1 comment:

Micah and SaraJane said...

I love the evil eye part. Sorry this was a difficult part along your journey. Miss you!


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