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Bangcok - Bangkok cont... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 20 April 2009 18:53
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Day 54: Tuesday 14th - Bangkok
 

Yesterday's experience with the robbing tuk tuk drivers has left me scarred and so today's excursions fill me with trepidation. Our intention today is to find a post office to send a parcel home, visit the Grand Palace and finally take a guided tour of Ayutthaya the old capital of Thailand before the Burmese forced them to relocate further south in Bangkok. The 1500 baht included the transport by coach which would be picking up from other hotels, admission to all the sites, a 45 minute boat trip on the river and finally a romantic meal for two by the river.

The post office is not far but once again we decided to go by metred taxi. I had a good idea of its direction so when the driver took off in the opposite way things didn't look to good. Things slightly improved when he stopped to ask the way and then did a U-turn hitting a tourist in the process. The tourist wasn't injured and at least the driver was trying to find the way. When we arrived Noreen who walked in less time than it took us to drive was wrapping another large parcel to send home. Ours cost 2,400 bahts about 20 pounds.

We decided not to grab another taxi but walk with Noreen to see the Grand Palace. It was much further than we thought and even spent a couple of minutes staring at the body of a young man laid face down on the hard hot pavement. He didn't move a fraction and I'm convinced he was dead. Walked away feeling really guilty. Met an Australian couple heading through Asia to Europe and spent the last quarter of a mile to the palace talking to them. We walked from the palace entrance gates down the main drive and paid our entrance fee before finding out that we were improperly dressed and refused admission. We had to walk all the way back to the entrance gate to hire a long sleeve top for Anne and a sarong for me. When we got there the queue was very long and moving very slowly and after ten minutes we abandoned the idea. Anne managed to get her money back and when I tried to give my ticket away to a young woman for free she gave me the same look I gave the tuck tuck driver the day before when he was working his scam on me.

The afternoon trip to Ayutthaya brought back my tuck tuck fears. Firstly we sat around waiting for 15 minutes for the coach and when a driver turned up in an old black Volvo to take us to join up with the coach or at least that's what we thought it my suspicions began to grow. After a few minutes the driver informed us in his poor English and and in answer to our questions about us being the only ones on the trip that he was actually our guide for the day. We'd only paid 3,000 bahts, a few pounds, surely it didn't include a chauffeur, guide, boat trip and romantic meal by the river. He then passed us a booklet showing us artist impressions of the old capital. Why not show photos? I have to say I was convinced the old temples shown in the booklet had long fallen to the warring Burmese and he was pulling some scan. I kept reminding myself that the trip was booked through the hotel reception. When he pulled into a stadium area manned by guards to get the Thailand equivalent of LPG my suspicions grew and when he pulled into another a few miles further on I was convinced this was one big scan. I don't know much about PLG but I do know a car does miles and miles on a gallon so why was he refuelling after just a few miles? Was this some other government fuel scam. The drive which lasted eighty minutes was more stressful than the tuck tuck one.

Once we arrived in Ayutthaya it turned into an excellent excursion. Firstly we enjoyed a bowl of noodles and the spent a great atmospheric two hours visiting the various temples around the town. As we left the last site, as dusk descended quickly, thousands of very large fruit bats burst forth from one of the underground passages and created a black funnel shape against the dying red sky.

The boat trip was incredible as we glided along the river passage ways Swallows swooped low across the water's surface darting to and fro amongst the thick cloud of insects attracted to their deaths by the bright headlight illuminating the way forward. As the boat swerved at the last minute to avoid floating debris the birds dived under the bow changing sides and following the bow wave with the skill of a shoal of dolphins. As night took hold stoopers, dark and threatening, over shadowed the river imposing an ancient will on all around. Even in the dark the river was still a working avenue with dark hulks looming through the blackness pulling tubs of essentials.

The restaurant meal was served on a decked area overlooking the boat and the river. The meal was memorable not so much for the food which was good but for the atmosphere and location.

The journey back in to Bangkok was slightly quicker thanks to the lack of traffic and apprehension and all in all the day was pretty amazing. How much would it cost in the UK to be chauffeur driven to a site, have a personal guide, an hours boat trip round an ancient city and a three course romantic meal by the river and returned to your hotel door? I'm absolutely certain it would cost more than a few pound. I gave the guide a tip of over £10 and still felt as though I was cheating them. It's amazing the difference a day can make. As we set off I felt everyone in the city was out to rip us off and by the end amazed at what a few pounds can buy.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2009 19:22