Shanghai-ed in Bangkok

I’m in Bangkok, Thailand now for a conference.  I flew down here on Sunday, but had all day Monday free before my conference started in the evening.    In the afternoon I headed downtown with two items on my agend:  taking pictures at the Grand Palace, and meeting up with friends.  I took a taxi from my hotel to the Palace, arriving around 1:30.  Unfortunately, when I got there, I discovered that it was closed until 2:30 due to an official function or ceremony that was taking place.  A tuk-tuk (3-wheeled motorized rickshaw) driver conveniently showed up and told me that he’d take me to see two other temples nearby, for a toal of 10 baht.  Now I knew that was ridiculously cheap, so I should have walked away, but it was hot and I was tired, so I decided to go for it. 

Off we went, careening through the streets of Bangkok in the back of a tuk-tuk.  First stop, the giant standing Buddha.   I walked around, took some pictures, then climbed back into the tuk-tuk.  Next stop–a jewelry shop.  Huh?  The following conversation ensued:

Me:  I don’t want to shop.    Him:  You don’t have to buy anything.  But if I bring you here, I get a coupon for free gas.   Well, he seemed like a nice fellow, and gas prices are going up, so I walked in.  They asked me what I was looking for and I told them nothing, that was just in there because my tuk-tuk driver wanted a gas coupon.  I did one circuit in the stoor, and went back to the tuk-tuk.  Off again, to the other temple. Or so I thought.

5 minutes later we pulled up in front of another store.  Huh?  Please go in, he pleaded.  Stay for 5 minutes and I’ll get a free gas coupon.  Like a fool, I did.  5 minutes later I came back out and asked him if he’d gotten his coupon.  He had.  Off again, to the other temple.  Or so I thought. 

5 minutes later we pulled up in front of a tailor shop.   Another one???   Him:  Please go in for five minutes so I can get a gas coupon and a free shirt!  That was it.  I’d had enough.  I told him that I wasn’t going to go into another shop, and that I would pay him a 100 baht just to take me back to the Palace.  Grrr.  I could have just walked around the area near the palace and taken pictures.  Instead I was shanghai’ed by a tuk tuk driver and made to go shopping!!!