Thailand: The Bad

In order to get caught up with where I actually am at the moment (Spain), I am going to finish my series of posts on Thailand.  Of course, I still have more things to say about Thailand, but this is my take on the "bad". 

Anyone who has researched a trip to Thailand or SE Asia has probably come across information about the scams you might encounter.  One of my favorite sites is Bangkok Scams.  While I did not fall for any scams, there were several times where I saw myself being led that way. 

When I arrived in Bangkok, I knew basic directions to get to my hostel.  Before I left the BTS Station, I asked a policeman (or maybe a military man) which direction was the street I was looking for.  He pointed in the correct direction and I started walking that way.  Before I got too far, a well dressed man asked me where I was going and when I told him, tried to direct me in the opposite direction.  I already knew where this was headed and before I could politely tell him to go away, a friendly Western jogger came along to check and make sure I was okay.  That was all the well dressed man needed to get the hint.  I continued walking and found my hostel.

In Chiang Mai, I was fortunate to stay in a great hostel whose owners were able to negotiate amazing rates for pretty much any activity I wanted to participate in.  While walking around the temples one day, a man struck up a conversation with me and the next thing you know, I am in a tour office and he's trying to sell me a cooking class.  I politely told the woman at the desk that I wasn't interested and walked out.  No harm, no foul.

After a while, it starts to wear on you though.  The scamming had started in Israel, continued through Jordan, then India and came to a crescendo in Thailand.  I just wanted an honest answer from people and knew I was never getting one.  Tuk tuk drivers will charge you double or triple what they charge locals.  Half the time they won't use the meter.  Same goes with taxis.  It kind of ruined the experience of Thailand for me.

Buddhist Temples
I have a rule that I only have broken once on my travels.  I don't pay to get into places of worship.  This is especially true of Catholic churches, since I am Catholic.  I broke this rule to see Sagrada Familia in Spain, but I don't really count it as a church since it was (and continues to be!) still under construction when I saw it.  It also had not been consecrated yet, so technically, not a Catholic church.

Almost all of the major Buddhist temples in Bangkok charge entrance fees.  Tourists pay sometimes four times what a local pays...sometimes even more.  To me, Buddhist temples are similar to Catholic churches...once you've seen one, you've seen them all.  I know that sounds horrible, but how many paintings of the crucified Christ can one really appreciate?  I feel the same way about Buddhas.  In Chiang Mai, there are more Buddhist temples than you can shake a stick at and none of them charged an entrance fee.  I was able to freely walk around to a few (before being accosted by a tout...see above on scams) and then decided I had seen enough.

These two things are not deal breakers for me going back to Thailand.  They are more like major annoyances and now that I have experienced them, I know how to prepare myself for a return trip, if I choose to overlook the "Ugly" parts of Thailand.  That post will be coming up in another day or so.