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!!!