On scams and death by tuk-tuk

I came back from the uber mega market that goes every weekend in a park to the north of bangkok - pretty nice, found some interesting stuff, including some nazi artifacts (probably fake) - and had the whole gambit of "scam the tourist" experiences thrown at me in the span of maybe 5 minutes.  I stopped by a little stall to pick up this wizened old man statue I'd seen before, asked how much, 400 baht (which is, granted, only $15, but it's the prinicipal of the thing) when there are other statues (not the one I want but much larger) sitting below it with price tags of 100 or 125.  The man won't bargain - clearly it's the farang tax.  Disappointed I went and stood to find a tuk-tuk to get home when I was approached by a "friendly" man "from the tourism beuro".  he'd forgotten his badge that day (so sad) but said it would be very difficult to get to the area of town I was headed for because lots of people were going there today since it was "budha day".  Uh-huh.  He grabs a pen and draws a little dot on my map saying that there's a "lucky budha" there that's only open today.  The circle he's arbitrarily drawn is about 100 feet from my hotel and I have a strong desire to tell him the lucky budha must be located inside the red dragon coffee shop because that's the only thing other than a hotel that's on that street.  Before he can start into how he has discounted tickets to see said lucky budha a tuk-tuk pulls up and I negotaite a quick fare.

The route to the hotel is quite complicated.  Follow the road we're on until it ends.  Stop. I get out.  The tuk-tuk man takes off and after a few blocks suddenly veers left off into side streets, then wildly careening around a college campus sort of flailing behind him (I think he's asking for either money or the map) until he swings around and asks some students how to get where I had pointed on the map.  They tell him to get back on the road (presumably) but he'll have none of that and takes nothing but back streets the entire way home.  It's kind of fun, actually, except that he doesn't appear to live by the standard tuk-tuk give and take code of the road - for him it's all take.  Incidentally, the tuk-tuk code - and most of driving in bangkok really - is quite similar to my theory that when you need to merge into traffic and there aren't any openings you just pick someone with a nice car and start merging in front of them.  Chances are they'll value the shine on their vehicle more than their spot in traffic.  Sure enough, if you want in or around anything here whoever has the shittier mode of transportation seems to win out about 95% of the time.

Anyway, off to phuket now (flight in a few hours) for some "sun" (current forecast is mixed sun and thunderstorms) with maybe some scooter riding and rock climbing mixed in.  Left my PADI certification at home so diving may be out of the question, we'll see.

Oh yes, and the shirts I had made came back inside out.  Sweet.  We'll see if silk screening can cool-ify some of them but it may be just a moderatly expensive lesson to learn.  No green suit though, they wanted $150 for it and I couldn't haggle any lower than that, just not worth it.  Sorry to disappoint J and Twig.


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