Thursday, April 24, 2014

What I learnt on my Bangkok Trip

I went to Bangkok on the 11th till the 15th and stayed in KL for one night before coming home, hence the stall in updates. I went with an open mind and 0 cares, because a friend organized the trip. But still, there is always something to learn. Life is a never ending adventure of lessons.


1. Try the tuk tuk. 
But try to get your tourguide or a security guard to hire one for you. Most of them are really friendly, and will convince you to get on their tuk tuk, I didn't face a problem with those, but got in trouble when I approached one which made no attempts at conversation. The driver first sent us to a wrong location and when we corrected him, he muttered angrily and told us that its 2k baht instead - although the price he first gave us was 100 baht! We thought nothing of it at first, but a friend said that something doesn't feel right and it wasn't. The driver drove into an alley, killed the engine and demanded for the 2k. My friend told us to agree and go with it, so we did. After he sent us somewhere familiar, we got off immediately and my friend gave him 1k before we walked off. He kept following us until we gave him another 200 baht. I'm just glad that nothing serious happened and I want to warn future Bangkok travelers that the world isn't as rosy as you think.
If:

- The driver doesn't attempt to engage in conversation, don't get on his tuk tuk.
- The driver sends you to the wrong location, just get off and pay him the amount you agreed on from the start and look for another driver.
- Your destination is far, take a taxi instead. Use tuk tuks for short distances.
- Something feels off, don't take the tuk tuk. Our driver talked to himself, wore a hard expression and constantly plucked his hair. But we thought nothing of it because we weren't cautious enough.

But don't be put off about trying the tuk tuk because it is something uniquely Thailand. Just try to be street smart about it and try to have a guy with you. Although I had 3 (2 of which are buffass) and it didn't dissuade the driver from robbing us.


2. Go for Songkran with a bunch of buddies!
And be prepared for days of fun with other revelers. Most of the locals will respect those who do not wish to participate but watch out for the tourists such as myself! I spared no one. Even those who held up their phones in surrender got a squirt of water on their backs or feet or head. While its cultural significance is lost on me, the great big water fight brought out the child in everyone. 


3. Go with the flow~ 
When you travel in a pack, make sure you just go with the flow. Don't be the opinionated one and fight against the current because you will make yourself and your fellow travel buddies miserable. Unless you're asked for an opinion, then give it. Don't be the one who said "anything" and then complain about the final decision. Have a "majority rules" attitude and don't be bummed if you're in the minority group. Who knows? You might just have fun or do something unexpected, something you originally would not do. Like eat a bug. And live to swap stories. Memories are not planned, they happen. Also, bear in mind that: People forget the things that you say or do, but people will never forget the way you made them feel. 


4. Haggle & look for better deals. 
Don't be afraid to ask for a discount! But don't try to rip the sellers off - remember, they are doing this for a living. :) Also, don't get ripped off at the airport and pay 500 baht for a simcard because you think it's cheap. Sure, it's pretty reasonable for an unlimited data plan - but it's only for 7 days and.... You can get it for a 100 baht at any 7/11.

5. Try the local food, even the instant noodles!
We spent every night in a 7/11, eating noodles from a cup and drinking Meiji milk. It might be extremely unhealthy, but when on vacation... Just don't think so much and do whatever you want to! They have awesome PORK noodles. Coming from a Halal country, processed pork is more of a novelty. There is a special section in supermarkets selling pork, cigarettes and alcohol. Not in Thailand! As for local food, I recommend Pad Thai and Red Curry.

6. The opposite double standards for gender. 
I'm used to the thought of women being the privileged sex, but in Thailand, it's the men who are prized. I say this simply based on the toilet conditions at a men's club called The Pimp. I know that it's a mens club, and therefore men will receive special treatment. But I did not expect the vast difference between the girls toilet and the mens! According to my friends, the mens is like a palace, with an attendant who gives massages. Upon hearing that, I rushed to the ladies and to my horror - found 6 stalls. 3 of which had no doors, 2 have broken locks, thereby leaving only 1 functioning stall. I also found a lot of the escorts eating in the toilet. The oppression is mingboggling. Furthermore, women have to pay entrance fee and men do not! 

Despite everything. It is an eye opener. Like what I told my dad (in order to convince him to let me go): I've experienced a civilized society, it's only right that I should be exposed to both sides of the coin. I can't always have the good, ignorant to the bad. How would I ever know any better?

Although in retrospect, Bangkok probably isn't much more backward than Kuching, but the successful tourism there has bred dishonest locals which will try their best to part you from your money by any means necessary. But all in all, I had a great time because it's never about where you are. It's who you're with. ♥

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