Travelling Tips 2: How Many Scams Can There Be?
After studying Bangkok’s Travelling Tips 1, you hopefully felt better equipped to face the creative world of scams and tricks. Or maybe you reflected on those you had already endured. No-one is immune. However, if the loss is financially, physically, or emotionally not too great, such occasions always make for good travelling stories – after a bit of time has passed and the bruised ego has recovered .
Here is a collection of a few more tips you can add to your list of points on how to travel as painlessly as possible:
- The ‘closed today’ scam. This one can be encountered at Bangkok’s biggest attractions, such as the Grand Palace or Wat Pho. A convincing looking person assures you that the sight you want to visit is closed for a seemingly credible reason. The aim is to instead lure to an alternative destination and make you spend some money you were not planning to spend.
- Come dine with me. Isn’t it great if on your trip you can share a meal or a drink with a local and get to find out about the place firsthand? Unfortunately, a friendly invitation to a meal can lead to all sorts of scenarios that don’t involve cultural exchange and amicable chats. I’ve heard too many of these stories from people, whose dinner date turned into an ordeal after their drink was drugged or they were pulled into a card game of no return. It’s great to be able to trust people, but do employ some common sense and listen to your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s better to skip it.
- Loose change. I’m not sure if this one is a scam or merely a sign of bad mathematical skills. In most places calculators are in use even when simple transactions take place. However, it’s always a good idea to make the calculation quickly in your head too, as sometimes a few baht is added to the bill.
- ‘The blue shoes’ border charge. This of course doesn’t exist. I just wanted to illustrate how inventive the fabricated charges to you can be, especially when crossing into Cambodia. It happened to us when entering Cambodia from Laos, but the efforts of customs officers to earn some extra dollars are the same when entering from Thailand. So be alert!
- Far away bus station. This one can be particularly annoying and can shake your faith in humanity. You ask a friendly looking stranger how to get to a bus stop, as you have a feeling – or knowledge – that it’s within walking distance. He then explains you need to take a tuk-tuk (or even that the last bus is just about to leave), which of course leads to using his or his friends’ services to quickly reach the bus station. When you get there, you realize you were right, it was just around the corner. And the buses are still going, so there was no need to rush!
- Farang prices. You might not like it, or find it unfair, but this is how it is. If you are a farang, you will probably be charged more. If you are buying something pricey and were hoping to get a bargain, maybe you should get a Thai friend to do the talking.
- No MSG. Have you ever wondered why the food from Khao San Road tastes suspiciously tasty when it costs only a few baht? Most likely the answer is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. This food enhancer is widely used across Asia and has many adverse health effects. Try to eliminate it from your diet. Ask for no MSG. In Thai, the request for no MSG is “mai sai pong-chu-rote”. It looks like salt, in bigger crystals.
And the final piece of advice: Keep your sense of humour!