It seems that Thais cannot get enough of taking me to suit shops. After a night on Khan San Road of Thais trying to take me to theirs, I should have realised it wasn’t the last time I would hear about it.
Waking up bright and early, refreshed from my bountiful sleep and according to some people who shared the dorm with me, I didn’t wake up for all the racket some people came back with after a heavy night out on Khao San Road. It seems someone was trying to smuggle a Thai prostitute in. Oh joy. But I slept through it all.
I think I just about have got used to the heat which has been 35 degrees Celsius constantly or above. It’s a far cry from the low tens degrees Britain is having. I’m decked it in a vest and shorts and basking in the sun. Lovely jubbly! (sorry for making you British guys jealous…I just want to do that :p )
Parking my bum on one of the seats outside of the hostel, I ordered a banana yogurt muesli and a cup of chai tea, and studied the map before me. Where would I go today? Of course I would like to see the main sites in Bangkok…Grand Palace? Wat Pho? One of the many temples? Chinatown? Who knows. But I needed to buy a sleeper ticket from Bangkok to Phuket to get my travel plans moving so train station first then the sights.
Even though I got lost trying to find my hostel that happened to be 2 streets away, I was still pretty confident of my navigating skills. I’m that confident back home I don’t even need a sat nav (clicks fingers). So with a map discreetly folded up into my palm to avoid sticking out as a sore tourist, off I went!
It sort of worked and then I came to what I suppose is one of their roundabouts and got hopelessly lost. Working my way back, I was getting pestered by plenty of tuk tuk drivers asking if I wanted a lift. Hearing horror stories of people being taken to shops that will earn the tuk tuk driver a commission, I avoided their offers.
But it wasn’t until one of thm screeched round the corner, hopped off his tuk tuk and asked me where I was going. I told him I was going to meet a friend and I haven’t got time to take a tuk tuk. He carried on talking and saying did I really need to go somewhere. I stopped slightly. I couldn’t find my way to hualamphong train station and it would take me a better part of the day, the tuk tuk driver was being far less pushy than other drivers and actually seemed nice, and also I kind of wanted to see what the big deal is about being taken to the shops. I would like to have a look at a few amulets anyway.
I agreed a price with him beforehand but only as he told me before we go to the train station that we go and visit the lucky Buddha first as it was a holy day. Yeah yeah, I knew that was a barefaced lie, there aren’t any lucky Buddhas.
He took me to the supposed lucky Buddha at a Wat and I slopped off the tuk tuk walking to the shrine. It was a nice reclining Buddha but the Thai waiting for me seemed more interested in my map. Grabbing it out of my hands he marked some places where I should visit for some ‘shopping experience’. He quickly showed me how to pray to a Buddha and lighted 3 candles to bless the lucky Buddha to send some luck to my country, family and the world. Because it is a holy day. Hmm.
Getting back on the tuk tuk, he took me to the big Buddha. Walking to the shrine, I was pleased to find it a thriving busy place full of people praying to the big Buddha and they did pray as the Thai man showed me how to. I felt really calm in this place and hung around for quite a while watching the comings and outgoings. I decided to do a bit of praying myself and lit 3 candles and wished for the happiness of my family and a fantastic pregnancy for my friend Hannah. (before you ask, Mum, I’m not the father)
It was pretty special.
But that calm feeling was about to be eradicated when Nha-Wang (going my pronunciation of his name) took me to his first commission. You guessed it…a suit shop. I walked in and I supposed to a certain degree I was interested in suits and wanted to see how it was done. But the staff in that shop asked me how many shirts I wanted, where was I from? I told them I was merely browsing or ‘having a look‘. Their faces betrayed puzzlement and couldn’t work out what ‘having a look’ meant. They said I come into the shop so I must want to buy? Despite my attempts to explain I’m merely browsing, I soon told them m not buying. They got annoyed and threw me out of the shop for not buying anything as I was disrespecting them!
Haven’t they heard of customer service? Because of that experience, I wouldn’t shop there again and if they had been nice then I may have decided to go…probably not, why do I need a suit for my 8 months of travel?
Sure, I got that experience truly well and done with, the driver took me to his other commission…again a suit shop. This time, the same process was repeated except the manager tried to chase me out.
Why was the tuk tuk driver subjecting me to this? Can’t he see I don’t want to buy a suit but perhaps amulets?
I told him no more shops, only straight to train station. This he did. Watch as he drives his tuk tuk.
He soon roared off, his tuk tuk making the tuk tuk sound pattering after him from his exhaust.
After buying my train ticket, I decided I wouldn’t let one bad tuk tuk experience stop me so again, I took a tuk tuk with a driver called Kia. He was pretty good talker for English and we bantered for sharing his name with a rubbish car manufacturer.
I told him I wanted to go to see Wat Arun and then after, the Grand Palace. Agreeing on a price, he told me he wanted to take me to shops to earn a commission. I told him NO SUIT SHOPS. So the first place he took me was…you guessed right again..a suit shop. I told him I said no suit shops but he claimed this was a shirt shop. Smarmy bugger. But this time I would have fun. Oh yes indeedy!
It seemed that one of the questions asked in the suit shops was ‘where are you from?’ in the next 3 shops I visited, I told them Australia, south Africa and Germany. South Africans seem to have the better deal as they have the lowest prices whereas the British have the highest. Interesting indeed. It wasn’t until he took me to a fourth suit shop that I truly lost my patience. Not only it was a suit shop but it was the same suit shop I visited that morning with the chasing Thai who now was staring at me evilly through the window. I told him no more now and get the hell out of here as it seemed I would be chased again!
Without any more bother, he took me to Wat Arun in which I spend a good couple of hours there and decided to head back to the hostel to see if I could mingle with the people there and quite frankly, no pestering Thais! But to get there, I would take the same tuk tuk…tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk tuk…
Have you had any experience with tuk tuks?