As soon as I arrived to Bangkok, I became the embodiment of the stupidity, bossing proudly through the city, each time finding a way of making an even bigger fool out of myself. I took for granted everything these happy little creatures told me, what is more, I trusted them so much that I didn’t even think if what they were saying made any sense at all.
During my first stay in Bangkok I’ve seen nearly nothing, save for street markets. Actually, if we’re talking about street markets, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen every single one of them and it only stresses my endlessly trusting/stupid (pick the most suitable) attitude. Obviously, it took me some time to realise that my naivety had literally no boundaries and once I understood that, I made a list of things I had to learn the hard way.
1. TRUST NO ONE
While you can and probably will meet helpful Asians during your trip, but especially in big cities don’t even try to think that happy strangers approaching you on the street and offering help without any reason, are actually doing it selflessly. Mostly, they will try to convince you to go to the Tourist Information, whether you need it or not. If you look carefully, you will notice the “Tourist information” sign nearly everywhere in Bangkok. As a person born and raised in a country where scams are not on the agenda, it might come as a shock to you, that most of them are fake, and as far as I’m concerned there’s only ONE official institution.
As much as Asians are jealous of your perfectly white skin, teeth and shiny blonde hair, for some of them you will forever remain the stupid foreigner who is more than happy to pay them more than a monthly salary for a one itinerary, so if you end up there, don’t buy the story that the train will be full next week or that there’s no working railway service in Thailand at all and so on.
I truly think that in a country where the humidity level is insanely high, tuc-tuc’s are probably the best means of transport to break through the crowded city. With the wind cooling your sweaty face, you get to explore the city faster and cheaper. These inconspicuous drivers will be happy to get 0.5$ for a 10km ride, but as always, there’s no such thing as free lunch and this time won’t be any different. Visiting “few” Tailor Shops on your way home entails spending more than 5 minutes in each place that consists of convincing the owner that you are interested in their stuff and you are willing to buy it without actually buying it. It might seem reasonable, but if you add 5 minutes to 5 minutes to 5 minutes, you will get 15 minutes of unspeakable horror.
3. V.I.P BUS
For most people Bangkok is just a springboard, from which they travel north, south, west or east. While southern and eastern Thailand is quite well developed, when it comes to transportation in the north, it’s not that easy to get from point A to point B. This is where railway connections end and you don’t have much choice when it comes to flying either. Now, the only option you have is to travel by bus. While searching for transportation you might come across an V.I.P bus offer. Pick up from your hostel and free meals included might sound tempting, but don’t get yourself into another scam. If you have as much luck as I did (and comparing my story to others, you might call me the luckiest backpacker in Asia) the front and back windscreen will be completely broken, you will have two additional stopovers due to a flat tyre and your toilet stops will look more or less like stopping in the middle of the road and peeing in the company of 40 fellow travellers. This is when you wave goodbye to privacy. Around 6 am you will be woken up by crowing of roosters travelling on the same bus for very important persons like you.
4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you book a several-day-long itinerary with accommodation included, do yourself a favour and ask Google if your “maison” has reviews with “bedbugs” or “cockroaches” phrase in it. Although it’s pretty clear that you can’t escape watching cockroaches, you can escape waking up with these cuties, eyeing you from your chest or in the worst-case scenario with bedbugs’ bites. Every travel agent will show you “real” pictures of your tremendous villa with a picturesque view, swimming pool, free wifi and hot water, but I’ve seen these places myself and they look more like Dexter’s slaughterhouse than a fancy hotel.