A slightly later start to our day today at 10am. We first headed to the local museum where we had a whistle stop tour of traditional Thai houses. It was interesting to know that some of their glassware came from Ireland! (Of course some came from France and Italy too, but it was nice to hear mention of the green country.)
Outside we jumped into a tuktuk (for the Grand Palace) for the price of 200 (Tuktuks generally charge double the price of a cab-keep this in mind later when I tell you of our cab to the embassy. We left from Paya Thai which is further away too). We were melting by the time we arrived.
As soon as we hopped out of the tuktuk a guy started trying to help us. Then we realised he was telling us the palace was closed for lunch.THEN he called a tuktuk guy over who started showing us a laminated map (where he kept that in his tiny tuktuk I do not know) and the places we could go to for only 20bahts.
Unfortunately for them it was a boat tour so we made it very clear it we'd already done one and that we didn't need to do another one. So we moved up the road. This time another guy tried to 'help' us. He called over another tuktuk guy with ANOTHER laminated map who tried to convince us that one of the 'sights' was exactly back where we had just come from. Needless to say we walked away and walked back to the entrance where then first guy and directed us away from. It was open.
In the Palace we needed to cover up and were given blue shirts (which looked like a school uniform) and a sarong. Today has been one of the hottest days and so we were melting!! The grand palace was equally as beautiful as the other places we have seen in Bangkok, but due to the heat and our need for beer we decided to hit the tourist road we were on two days ago for lunch and some drinks.
So the time came to pick up our Vietnam visas. We flagged a cab an appropriate amount of time in advance and jumped in. It was clear from the beginning that he had no idea where we wanted to go...or how to get there. We agreed on 200b which was probably already too much but we didn't mind-we just wanted to get to the embassy. After ten mins he said 'ooh, long way. You pay 250b' we were having none of it. He repeated his a few times, maybe throwing in a few 'I'm so charming' or the Thai version in comments. We were not fooled. He was silent for a bit longer. I showed him the place on the map, which wasn't enough as he then pulled out his map and I had to show him again on there. Another ten minutes passed. 'You pay 250-it's sooooo long'
We kept refusing and even said we would get out if it was too much effort for him. He changed his mind then!
Then we heard his family story about his 3 boys and his 'Madame' (not his wife-he made that very clear). We heard how he was 44 and 'not handsome' anymore. And that we should 'look, look, look' at everything around us.
He pulled out the map again and I showed him AGAIN. Thinking this was enough I settled back for what is becoming quite common for me and taxis in these hot places-a 'taxi snooze'. Then he wound down his window and asked a guy on a motorbike where it was. He didn't know and neither did his posse of biker pals. So we drove on. Then his window went down for a passing taxi where they started a 'do you know where this is?' Conversation. He didn't know either. I even said he could drop us at the nearest BTS station. No, he wanted to take us to the embassy and he wanted 250. No, we said repeatedly as he covered his ears and pretended not to listen. Finally we pulled up outside an embassy. The USA embassy. Er...not quite the Vietnam embassy!!! We drove on. Then the Vietnam embassy appeared and we were so happy we gave him 200 and both jumped out of my door...Laura said this was because she suspected he'd locked her door and that I was a sneaky ninja and got mine open in time! He was not happy! However, we asked for the meter to be on, he refused. He said a price and we agreed. The meter would have been less than 200 so we didn't cheat him-he was trying to cheat us!
For dinner we had a pizza to give us a break front Thai food!
Time for an early night as we are hitting the beach tomorrow for a few days! (Koh Samet island)