Bangkok: Scams

In this post about going sightseeing in Bangkok I mentioned that you really have to be assertive, when you take a half-day trip around the city for as little as 20 baht. If you are not assertive enough or you believe in the possibility of meeting several nice and helpful people within several hours on the same day, by pure coincidence, that’s how you actually get scammed, that’s how I got scammed into a suit.

 

There is actually not much you can find when you google “Wat Sommat” so I’m not sure if a place with this name actually exist. It’s called by the tuk-tuk drivers “The Lucky Buddha”, and when you google THAT, well, that’s how you can find tens of stories like ours, even with the exact same order of sightseeing. Stories of people who got, or might have got, scammed.

First thing in the morning we were planning to see the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok, when we got accosted by a man in sunglasses not far away from Khao San. He informed us that the Grand Palace is not available for sightseeing at the moment because of official celebrations. Then he told us in great secret that today we may get scammed by tuk-tuk drivers if they charge us more than 20 baht, as they are sponsored by the state because of a public holiday. Then he marked several places on our map such as the Big Buddha, the Golden Mountain or a “Factory” (a boutique) and a travel agency. Unsurprisingly it was the last day of a discount week, also due to the public holiday so we could get a suit or a dress for an incredibly low price. Afterwards he stopped a tuk-tuk which just happened to pass by and made sure that the driver won’t “trick us” and that he will take us to all the places marked on the map for just 20 baht. We visited all the monuments as planned, but “The Lucky Buddha” seemed to be the most important one for our driver. He stopped and sent us in the direction of an ordinary Buddhist temple   with a big smile on his face, saying “lucky Buddha” and showing a gesture that supposed to mean pregnancy. We walked around the building but we couldn’t get in as it was closed due to redecoration. We came back to the tuk-tuk a bit disappointed and expected that our trip would go on. The driver repeated his gesture and sent us in another direction of a smaller temple. This situation repeated for the third time which made us quite irritated as we wanted to continue to the next monument. In the third temple we “accidentally” met a man, who asked us what we were doing there, with very good English. He said we were lucky to be there as most tourists don’t know about this place. I thought that I might know the reason why: there is nothing interesting to visit in”Wat Sommat”. During the conversation he repeated the story about the last day of discounts in the “suit factory” and he said that he got there two suits for his younger brother who was going to get married soon. What a coincidence you might think. But somehow it didn’t look like a scam to me at that time. Everything was very well played, and at the next stop I didn’t think twice: I bough a suite for 400 USD, at least 3 times the ordinary price. At least we didn’t buy a trip at the travel agency.

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