After a last taste of the relative tranquility of Siem Reap by the pool in the morning, it was time to head to the buzz of Bangkok.
I’ll say it up front, Bangkok is not my favourite city in the world. It is massive, not that clean or organized, and i find it lacks much redeeming charm. Still, it’s worth a visit all the same.
Our first day in Bangkok wasn’t a busy one. After our flight and transfer to the hotel we were somewhat tired, due in part I think to the heat and humidity (35 C). After checking-in we had a drink by the pool on the roof of the hotel. I went the safe route and had a beer. Maggi and Mary were a little more adventurous putting unwarranted faith in the hotel staff. Apparently a Pims No. 1 in Thailand is just a shot of Pims and a Campari was similarly botched. Not exactly the refreshing fruit-filled drinks they were hoping for.
We went to dinner at a restaurant on the river, the name of which I never did figure out, as it was only in Thai. The food was good and it was pleasant to sit by the river on such a hot evening.
Getting there, however, was another matter. There we five us going to dinner, Russell and Trisha, Katy and me, and Shane. We decided to take a taxi to get to the restaurant rather than the train and boat. This seemed like reasonable idea. Shane estimated that it would cost us about 85 baht (around $3) per taxi on the meter and that we would need two taxis for the five of us. So, just over $1 per person and we’d be there in 30 minutes.
Russell and Trisha got in the first taxi to come along and all seemed to be going according to plan. Then we ran into a problem. It turns out that taxi drivers in Bangkok are assholes. When we stopped a taxi for the three of us to follow, as soon as we told him where we wanted to go, he waved his hand and said he wouldn’t take us. Despite the fact that this is actually illegal, let alone a bit rude, this was repeated about ten more times over the next 20 minutes. Shane explained that the problem was their ability to get a fare coming back out of the area we were going to. While somewhat understandable, it didn’t do much to reduce the frustration.
Eventually, fearing that Russell and Trisha would be left standing alone in front of the restaurant, we agreed to pay a taxi driver 200 baht off meter for the trip, more than double what it should cost. A bit ironic as Shane told us all when we arrived in Bangkok to make sure the meter was always on if we got in a taxi.
Once in the taxi we we’re immediately caught in traffic, at one point sitting still for 15 minutes. For his part our taxi driver did little to inspire confidence, repeatedly banging his forehead as if punishing himself for agreeing to take us. Then, when we did find some open road, he flew through downtown Bangkok at 100 km/hr.
Meanwhile, Russell and Trisha were having their own adventures. Their driver didn’t really seem to know the way. Despite their 20 minute head start they caught us from behind at one point.
In the end we all made it to the restaurant safely. (Russell and Trisha arrived 15 minutes after us.)
For the taxi ride home, we decided it was best not to split up and crammed into one taxi. The cost, 85 baht.
The lesson: If you want a Bangkok experience, take a taxi. If you want to reach your destination quickly and without hassle, stick to the sky train and boats.