Well today was a late start! We left the condo at about 1ish after a tasty bacon sandwich. We had strict instructions from James and Rachel to only accept certain things from cab drivers. 'Dont pay more than 100 bahts for a cab anywhere.' They said.
So we approached some cabs with my new trusty lingo (hello/I want to go to.../pay by the meter)
All conversations below were in a mixture of Thai and English.
Me: hi, can we go to Wat Pho?
Cab driver: 200
Me: too much
We walk away.
Me: hi, can we go to Wat Pho?
CD: I finish soon. No time.
He drivers off.
Me: Hi! Wat Pho?
CD: no wat pho. Traffic bad.
Me: you CANT take us to wat pho?
CD: Traffic bad. I take you to here (gets out map-do I look like I understand a Thai map?) you get boat for wat pho. 500 bahts.
Me and Laura were faced with a multitude of questions. Could we be bothered to question more cab drivers? Did we want to go on this random boat ride? Was 500 bahts for a boat reasonable? Hmmmmmmmm....?!
Me: how much?
So we rock up at this alley way where we are escorted to this woman with a calculator.
Woman: You pay (types 2000 into calculator) for hour. We take you here, here and here. You see (points to different pictures)
Us: The cab driver told us 500.
Woman: Ok. I do you good deal. (Types 1500 into calculator)
Us: we were told 500.
Woman: I can only go this low (this is when she clears the calculator screen and re types 1500-seriously what was the point?)
This is when we are faced with another multitude of questions; where in the world were we? Were we being scammed? (YES) was it worth £14 each for an hour boat ride? Could we be bothered to barter anymore? This was when we just agreed and paid. I had barely put my money away when some guy started telling us to get moving. The boat was ready. So we hurried to the pier to find an empty boat. Just for us. As soon as we got in it started moving.
It was actually a nice boat ride. We went down the main river and then through the canals bypassing houses on stilts. Children waved at us from their decks; we were still famous!!
After this we climbed onto another pier only for an aggressive Thai woman to demand 20bahts for PARKING THE BOAT THAT WASNT EVEN OURS! Honestly, the cheek!!
Finally we arrived at Wat Pho. You'll see from the pictures how nice it was. Laura and I are feeling very cultured and deeply religious right now due to our visitations of Hindu temples and Buddhist places of worship. Today we saw the reclining Bhudha and the surrounding worship spots.
Of course all this worship made us thirsty we headed for a tuktuk to Koa San Road. Before we could get into a tuktuk a Thai man stopped to chat to us wanting to advertise china town and different other Buddhist sites. After India we were inwardly thinking 'is he after a tip?' But after our chat he quite happily moved on a bit, however when looking over our shoulders he was still hanging around the Tuktuks and so he was probably on commission to get is somewhere for a 'good price'.
We finally climbed into a tuktuk that was actually going to take us to the place we requested. And not some random pier. Or to china town. Amazing. We even got the price down to an acceptable 100bahts. Most impressive. However we did have to tell him that we were not interested in his 'traffic' stories and could only pay 100 bahts...because he wanted to charge us double because of 'traffic'. I was like 'we've heard this 'traffic' excuse already today and we're not falling for it' then we tried to walk off and he shouted 'ok, I do you favour. 100bahts just got you.' :-)
We arrived at Koa San Road in time to check out some market stalks and collapse with a beer (Singh, we've found, is nicer than Chang). After two large beers each we were feeling quite merry (Laura was on a particular high as she'd just bartered for the first time and got a good deal-we've tried to ignore that the people opposite got the same deal but for 50bahts less) and so skipped down the road to purchase some leather bags. :-) we even got a 'special discount' suggested by the sales girl, which means we probably could have bartered her down even lower...better luck next time!
Finally we got back to the condo for some yummy Thai food and some more beer.
Lesson: If someone tries to suggest a different route DONT DO IT. We were lucky that we enjoyed our boat trip, but there are many can drivers taking people places like that and probably getting commission for it.
If they complain of traffic...move on.