They did it with such a grace of royal princes. Hear me.
Stepped onto the pier at Tha Thien after a short ride on the long boat on Chao Phraya River. Whilst we were struggling to read a map, came an old man and offered us an assistance for directions.
He spoke a sparing English but efficiently conversant. We told him that we wanted to visit The Grand Palace and he brought us to the large tourists map plastered on the wall.
“It takes only 10 minutes walk but it is closed until 1 pm because of morning prayer being conducted inside the palace” He told us.
He suggested that we make use of the two hours void to do some touring to the nearby temples and mentioned one particular temple called Black Buddha, and it is our luck because the temple is only opened on Friday. It was indeed Friday. Felt honored, we asked him further on things to do while waiting for the palace to reopened.
He then tried to horn his Bahasa Melayu with a Kelantanese’s dialect when we had told him that we are Malaysians.
Then he suggested that we should visit the Golden Mountain too for its majestic view of the city. We were about to ask him on a taxi fare when he made a disapproving face on the exorbitant taxi’s charges and should instead ride on a tut tut with the yellow plate number. It should not cost us more than 40 baths ( RM4) from where we were standing to the Black Temple, after that to the Golden Mountain then back to the Grand Palace. Only 40 baths to all these places and we have had time to spare..it was a good bargain and then why not?!
Suddenly as if was on que, a Tut Tut’s driver came to offer his service and we asked how much the fare would be and he said it would cost 100 baths. The old man immediately cut him short and spoked in Thai as if he was not agreed with the quoted fared. We should now pay the man only 40 baths for whole journey.We felt debted to the old man as he seemed genuinely wanted to help us out. We thought this man was a true believer of karma’s; when you do good, the good would be fallen into your realm. So, we trusted him.
We hopped onto the Tut-tut and while the driver was warming up his machine, the old man came back and told us, we should also visit “the international market” for souvenirs etc. He then spoke in Thai to the driver and we left him there at the junction. We ventured to the unknowns, unwittingly succumbed to the potential pitfall.
While on the way to the temple, we were amazed by the hospitality of this old man and very grateful for his kind assistance.
We arrived at the temple and it was a small temple with nothing much to see and as matter of respect, we entered the monastery and pretended to do what the Buddhists were doing. Less than 5 minutes, we left.
The second journey was longer and we started to question the logic of this cheap fare and the distance that this man is charging us. How should such a long journey and multiple stops could cost us only 40 baths.
The second stop was at this Diamond and Garments making boutique. No souvenirs items on display except those expensive jackets and jewelery.We made a quick dash out and then told the driver that we were not interested to visit these kind of places. He then begged us to oblige his last request to visit the second jewelery boutique and to spend at least 10 minutes in the shop. He now could sense that we have realized of his team’s maneuvering us into this misadventure and openly begged us do this final visit for him to earn his commission entitlement. We were the victim of the scam. We have not lost any cash but our time was wasted in the hot and baking early afternoon sun
It was clearly written on the tourist brochure warning us about this scam. However, the courteous and friendly manner of Thai people disillusioned your mind. Naively, we were not aware until it was too late.
The land of smile has somehow gave us a gentle reminder that everywhere you go, there are people wanted to cheat you even in the broad day light. It does not really matter if you are standing in front of Kaabah, or in the Sistine Chapel of Apostolic Palace, or at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem …when people decide to cheat on you, the God is the only witness. Location has no barrier for those with a tainted heart.