With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Archive for the ‘Bangkok’ Category

Travel List Thursday: Bangkok

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 17, 2016

Download PDF Version

Advertisements

Posted in Bangkok, Thailand | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Job 4: BFITS

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 15, 2015

December 2009 – May 2010

We’re poor, but we can still afford our own pool.

Working for the government through a company

I already have an entry on the basics of how I got my job in Thailand. So, let me give you a brief re-cap here. Mark and I got to Thailand and sent out lots of emails answering job ads. Neither of us got any replies, though.

There was one particular job that I found in the classifies of a Bangkok newspaper. I really wanted the job and it seemed like they needed someone right away. But still, no one replied to my email.

The ad in the newspaper gave the company’s address and it was a couple blocks from our hostel. So, Mark and I put on our business attire, took our resumes, reference letters, copies of our diplomas, and other documents and knocked on BFITS‘ door.

This is how we got to work some days.

We sat in the office of a guy ready to interview us. “Mr. Boss” seemed very happy to see us. A math teacher had just quit a few days earlier and an English teacher was on the verge of quitting. He had been trying to call the Human Resources department to get them to put an ad in the paper for a new math teacher, but they had yet to reply to any of the messages he left them.

Clearly, they had put the ad for a math teacher in the paper, because that was the ad I saw. But, HR either didn’t know how to answer emails or they just didn’t care. They never answered a single email while I worked there. If I needed anything, I had to call the person I needed help from on their private cell phone. (If you are lucky enough to get the private cell phone number of someone who works in HR at BFITS, don’t loose it, or abuse it!)

There’s very little desk space left on my desk.

Long story short, I got the job and started that Friday. Mark’s job, at the same company but a different school, started 2 weeks later. We got a nice apartment and settled into our new lives in Bangkok.

The job itself was okay. It was just a lot of work, for not that much pay. I was working 10 times as hard as I did when I worked at a high school in Korea. If I were making more money while working harder, it would not have been so bad. But jobs in Thailand generally don’t pay that much.

(I lived quite well while I was in Thailand, because in baht I made decent money. I made half of what I did in Korea when comparing both the baht and the won to the US dollar. In Korea I made enough money to live well and send money home to pay off student loans. In Thailand I just made enough money to live well.)

I taught 7th through 9th grade math; two 9th grade classes, three 8th grade classes, and three 7th grade classes. I taught each class 4 times a week. After each lesson I gave homework, after which I graded and handed back the next day. Every two weeks or so, there was a test, after which I graded and handed back during the next time class.

I went from teaching 1 lesson 20~24 times a week to teaching 12 lessons 2~3 times a week. But it was just middle school math; no biggie. The hard part was the endless grading. Just look at my desk in the photo above. There are 4 towers of homework and tests to grade!

Ain’t no party like a BFITS party!

But I was still willing to do this tiring job for a lot less pay for at least a year, just to live in Thailand for a while. I liked the company. (Just look at the band they hired for their year end party!)

The problems started after my first test. Parents complained when their kids’ failed.

It was not a lot of kids that failed; just the students that did no homework. What no one bothered to tell me, was that the last teacher, the one who had quit, used to grade on a curve. These students were used to doing nothing and passing their test anyway.

First off, I’ve never heard of grading on a curve in middle school. That sort of thing should only start in college when the coursework actually gets hard. If you start grading on a curve for pre-algebra, you’re just setting these kids up to fail in life.

No one wants to get a phone call from their supervisor on the weekend.

I first heard about the complaints when my supervisor called me one weekend. Mr. Supervisor told me that I just cannot fail any of my students. I liked Mr. Supervisor. I feel like under different circumstances we would have been very good friends. But during this phone call he seriously contradicted himself and left me confused.

I was told not to just hand out grades. I had to give good tests and lots of homework and give the students the scored they earned. My tests could not be too easy but, I was to never ever, never ever ever, fail a student.

I was told that on Monday Mr. Boss was going to come to my school to deal with me. He was going to fix the problem I made. I had angered rich parents and that was a big no-no.

On Monday Mr. Boss looked through my lessons which were in a Power Point file. And he saw all the homework I gave the kids. There was nothing on the test that was not covered in the lessons and practiced in the homework.

In fact there were a few questions on the test that were straight out of the homework. There were a couple problems that we worked out together as a class, and I thought I would just throw 2 of them on the test as a confidence booster. Mr. Boss seemed to really like that.

Seeing that I did my job well and exactly like how he thought I should, Mr. Boss then met with the parents. He defended me and my teaching methods to them, telling them to get used to it or find some other English program for their kids to join.

I needed to relax in my pool after such a stressful day at work.

He stuck around after the meeting to tell me to not change a thing. Then he proceeded to go through my co-workers lessons, tests, and exams. Most of them were applauded for doing good jobs, but a few were given warnings that their tests were too easy or they should give more homework.

A few days later I got another call from Mr. Supervisor. He told me about the heaps of praise I got from Mr. Boss and that I should continue to do what I was doing before. But he warned that this should never happen again. Then for some “unrelated reason” he asked for my teacher pass-code. He needed to check something concerning my students’ scores.

He never came out and said it, but I had a feeling that he was just going to straight up give some kids a passing grade since I would not. We played this game many times. But I was never certain exactly what Mr. Supervisor had done.

How could they have even eked out a D?

It wasn’t until the school year ended and we had a meeting down at the BFITS headquarters, that I found out that all my students had passed. I sat there wondering how could that be possible. I had a few students that never turned in any homework, never passed a single test, and flunked the exam. How could they have passed?

Even with all this, I still liked my job. I worked hard, got paid little, and had parents complaining that I didn’t just pass their kids, but I still liked my job.

In the end, I left for a number of reasons. I had a non-grade-related disagreement with Mr. Supervisor. I needed to do what was best for me and he needed to do what was best for his job. Since what was best for him wasn’t anything near to being what was best for me, I quit.

The view from our kitchen

Besides, Bangkok was in political turmoil at the time. Just about everyday some building was going up in smoke. I never felt unsafe, as long as I stayed away from the protests, but I wanted to get out of Thailand just the same.

I would still recommend BFITS to anyone thinking about moving to Thailand if he or she didn’t have a job in mind already. But I would also give this advice. “Don’t work in Thailand if you need to send money home for any reason.”


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Posted in Bangkok, Thailand | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Dawn on the Last Day

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 27, 2010

May 26, 2010

All Pictures

Holding up the temple

A Day Along the River

For our last full day in Thailand Mark and I decided to get all our packing done and head out to see the Temple of Dawn. When you climb up to the top of the temple you get a great view of the river and surrounding temples. But, other than that, it’s just another temple.

The street omelets are the best things ever! It’s called khai jiaw (ไข่เจียว).

We then walked along the river to see Bangkok on an average day. We will miss Thailand, but not so much Bangkok. Bangkok was okay, but it’s a very dirty city that has way too much traffic and a not so good public transportation system. Bangkok has its pluses, but I’m just not the Bangkok type.

We will spend most of Friday in Tokyo. I’m excited! I love Japan. Mark wants to see Akihabara and to play pachinko. I want to eat ramen at a real Japanese ramen shop.

I have a crazy love for ramen. I eat ramen for breakfast about 5 days a week. If I’m hungry during the day and want a snack, it’s ramen to the rescue! The ramen you have in the states or the UK is nothing compared to the ramen options in Asia.

Then Mark and I will be in Chicago for most of Friday evening. Yes, we get two Fridays!

taking pictures of angels

We will end up at Mark’s family’s place sometime on Saturday, then eventually make it down to Miami where my people are.

I’m excited by, and scared of going back to the US. I’m excited to see my family and my country. What has changed since I’ve been gone? It always seems different when I come home between trips.

But I’m worried that something will happen and I would end up staying. What if I don’t find another job outside the US? What if I find a really great job in the US that I would be crazy not to take, that spells the end of adventures? In the end I will move back to the states, but not now. Maybe in a year, or two, or a decade. Maybe…

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

The Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun
(วัดอรุณ)

How to get there:

  • 13°44’36.8″N 100°29’14.4″E

By Bus –

Take bus number 19, 57 or 83

By Other Public Transportation –

  • Take the BST to Saphan Taksin.
  • From there you can walk to CEN Sathon (Taksin Bridge/ Central) pier. (Any pier will do, but Central pier is the only one that is very close to a BTS station.)
  • Once at a pier make sure to get on a boat that will take you to N8 Tha Tien dock.
    • Don’t get a long-tailed boat. You want the one that all the Thai people are taking.
  • From Central pier the ride will cost 14THB/person.
  • Make sure to read the signs at the docks you pass so you know where you are.
    • The ticket lady will be too busy to tell you where your stop is.
  • Move towards the back of the boat when you’re near N8. The boat doesn’t stop for too long.
  • There are 2 types of ferriesatN8 Tha Tien; the ferries that go up and down the river and the one that crosses the river.
    • Once you get to this pier you will take a ferry across the river.
  • You will either have to hurry or wait a long time, because once this ferry has a sufficient amount of passengers the ferry will get going. This boat will cost 3THB and runs from 6:00 – 22:00.

Address:

No. 34, Arun Amarin Road
Kwang Wat Arun
Khet Bangkok Yai, Bangkok

Website

Cost:

Notes:

There is a dress code. You are not supposed to wear shorts or short sleeve shirts, even though I just walked right in with shorts and a T-shirt and no one said anything. There are some clothes you can rent if someone does stop you.

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Thailand | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Jim Thompson’s House

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 14, 2010

March 8, 2010

All Pictures

looking at turtles

He Went for a Walk and Vanished

Jim Thompson was an American and ex-soldier who lived in Thailand back in the 60’s. He got married shortly before the war, but was divorced before moving to Thailand.

He help boost the silk industry and was quite an interior decorator. He would go to temples here in Thailand and ask the monks for their old religious relics.

According to the tour guide, the monks were more than happy to give them the old things of the temple. Apparently, Thais do not like to keep old things, but religious relics cannot just be thrown out. So Jim Thompson, was doing them a favor by taking the stuff off their hands?

(I know. It doesn’t make much sense to  me either. But his house was filled with old Buddhist paintings and headless Buddha statues.)

inside the house

The most interesting part about Jim Thompson’s life is the fact that he mysteriously disappeared one day. He and some friends took a trip to PahangMalaysia. One evening he decided to take a walk in the Cameron Highlands and was never seen again.

There is a lot of speculation as to what happened to him. He might have been murdered by a jealous silk industry competitor. He might have felt his life was in danger and with the help of the FBI, went into hiding. He might have been kidnapped and murdered. He might have been killed accidentally and then buried by the murderer out of fear of being caught.

The FBI theory isn’t too crazy. During the second world war Thompson worked for the Office of Strategic Services, which would later be replaced by the CIA. But, there is no proof of this.

He was most likely not just eaten by a tiger since no remains or clothing of his were found. Tigers tend not to eat bones, shoes, or clothing. But what actually happened to him, no one knows for sure. Those that claim to know, have no real evidence to back up their stories.

There are several books written by people who claim to have some insight on the case. Some say they have some ground breaking information. From the reviews that I’ve read on these books, they all know nothing and just want to sell books. Most of them end with, “… I know what happened, but revealing such information might put me or other innocent parties at risk.”

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

The Jim Thompson House Museum

How to get there:

  • 13°44’57.1″N 100°31’42.2″E

By BTS –

  • Go to National Stadium BST Station.
  • Take any exit opposite to the stadium then head west.
  • Turn right on Soi Kasemsan 2 and walk to the end of the street.
  • Use this map for directions.

Address:

Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok

Phone:

  • (662) 216-7368

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • everyday 9:00 to 17:00

Videos:

Notes

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Pathum Wan, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Touch Buddha’s Heart

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 7, 2010

March 6, 2010

All Pictures

3 headed elephant

A Full Day

Mark put this trip together. We saw a lot of stuff in one day. We were originally going to take cabs, boats, songtows, motorbike taxis, etc. But, one of our weekenders brought a car and a chauffeur. At first I was a little worried. The driver managed to get lost just getting to Krung Thonburi BTS Station. But he turned out to be a true professional, and a great time was had by all.

Eating breakfast at the floating market

Green For No Reason

Because we had to wait a long time for the driver to get unlost, I was very hungry when we finally got to the floating market. The market had very delicious food for very low prices in a very colorful atmosphere. John did the translating when it was time to order food.

I had a wonderfully tasty duck noodle dish. The noodles were green for no reason at all. It was great.

Do you want to go inside a 3 headed elephant?

3 Heads are Better

After eating we went to see a 3-headed elephant. There was a beautiful garden on the grounds, but the best stuff was inside the elephant. You must leave your shoes on a rack outside before entering the elephant.

You can take pictures inside, but you cannot take pictures on the first level. I’m not sure why because this was the most boring level. Though, I would have liked to get a photo of the statues in the middle. There are tons of better stuff to snap pictures of on the second and third floors.

See Ya Later

The next stop was to watch gators. This one was a lot better than I expected. I thought it would be completely lame, but it was fun. The elephant show was good. I loved to watch the elephants.

It was a little sad seeing the elephants begging for food. The trainers also didn’t seem to know how to position the elephants so during the elephant painting portion, they lost some of the audience’s attention.

Visitors of the park can walk about feeding various animals. I fed a hippo mainly because I’ve never fed a hippo before. It was fun. I saw lady pay for a chicken and try to feed it to a lion. The lion sniffed it and walked away. Maybe he was full. Come early if you want to feed the lions.

a Buddha with heart

Straight to the Heart

This Buddha was huge! Here we entered Buddha and walked around in his body. Hell was in his feet and heaven was in his head. While we were still inside Buddha one of the monks turned the lights off. That was our cue to leave. On the way out I saw some crazy looking slot machines. It gave me a vague fortune reading.

Golden Pee

Last stop was to the most expensive bathroom in all of Thailand. When we arrived there was a camera crew filming. I don’t know what for, for what channel, or when and where to watch it. It’ll probably be in Thai anyway.

Filming in the john

We all went “number one”. It didn’t feel like a million-baht pee; just a regular pee.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Bang Namphueng floating market
(
ตลาดน้ำบางน้ำผึ้ง)

How to get there:

by bus –

  • Take bus No. 138 (Chatuchak – Phra Pradaeng), No. 140 (Victory Monument – Suk Sawat Express Way), No. 506 (Pak Kret – Phra Pradaeng), or bus No. 82 (Sanam Luang – Phra Pradaeng).

Address:

Bang Namphueng, Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan 10130

Phone:

  • 0 1171 4930,
  • 0 2819 6762,
  • 0-3731-2282,
  • 0-3731-2284

Cost:

  • Free to enter

Hours:

  • Sat & Sun 8:30 -14:00

Notes:

  • The food here is great.
  • There are lots of bright colors and many photo-opts.
  • To catch a cab after visiting the market, get a motorbike taxi to the river ferry near a local temple. Cabs are easier to find on the other side, so I’ve heard.

Erawan Museum
(พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ)

How to get there:

  • 13°37’41.9″N 100°35’19.2″E
  • Take a cab.
    • When you get near the museum, you will see it! Make sure the cabbie drives slowly.
    • The sign for the turn is right at the turn.
  • bus – number 25, 102, 142, 365, 507, 508, 511, 536
  • Click here for map and info.

Address:

99/9 Moo 1 Bangmuangmai Samut Prakan, Thailand 10270

Phone:

  • 0-2380-035

Website

Cost & Hours:

  • To go inside the elephant -100THB; open everyday 8:00–17:00
  • Just the park — 50THB ; open everyday 8:00–18:00

Crocodile Farm And Zoo
(ฟาร์มจระเข้)

How to get there:

  • 13°34’20.8″N 100°35’52.4″E
  • Take a cab, bur, or click here for directions.

Address:

555 Moo 7 Taiban Road, Taiban Sub-District, Amphur Muang, Samutprakarn, Thailand

Phone:

  • +66 2 703 4891-5
  • 703 5144-8

Cost:

  • 300THB

Hours:

  • everyday 7:00 – 18:00

Notes:

  • You might want to skip eating at the restaurant in the park. We saw a huge rat running around in the kitchen when we were there. Unfortunately, we had already eaten.
  • It’s an okay place for kids and non-kids.

Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang
(วัดบางพลีใหญ่กลาง)

How to get there:

  • 13°36’30.6″N 100°42’17.2″E
  • Take another cab or bus.

Address:

Moo 8 Ban Klong Samrong Fang Nuea, Tambon Bang Phli Yai, Amphoe Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, 10540

ชื่อ: วัดบางพลีใหญ่กลาง
ที่ตั้ง: ม. 8 บ้านคลองสำโรงฝั่งเหนือ ตำบลบางพลีใหญ่ อำเภอบางพลี สมุทรปราการ 10540

Here are some maps that might be helpful.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • open everyday at normal, non-specified temple hours

Notes:

  • This is a huge reclining Buddha.
  • You can go inside Buddha and see his heart.
  • You can even put money on his heart if that’s the sort of thing you’re into…

Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai
(วัดบางพลีใหญ่ใน)

How to get there:

  • 13°36’16.8″N 100°42’40.3″E
  • Once again, take a cab.
  • It’s not far from Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. If it’s not too hot, you can even walk.

Here is a map.

Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai.JPG

Address:

Bangphli Yai
Bang Phli, Samut Prakan 10540, Thailand

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 8:00 -17:00

Notes:

  • There is actually a very revered statue of Buddha at this temple.
    • It was built a long time ago to help the Thai people to remember the great battle won over the Burmese.
  • But we didn’t see the Buddha. We went to see the temple’s bathroom.

Map:


Posted in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oy!

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 7, 2010

March 4, 2010

All Pictures

Thai Boxing

At first I didn’t want to see any Muay Thai matches. I’m not a big fan of violence, especially needless violence done for the entertainment of others. But Muay Thai is a part of Thai culture and I’m here to learn about Thai culture. So I went with Mark and Taryn to see a fight.

Thai Boxing

It wasn’t quite what I expected. There was an image in my head of two blood thirsty men wailing on and kicking each other in the face relentlessly; not stopping until blood poured out of one or the other’s head like a faucet.  Maybe one or two fighters would cheat and try to get in a few cheap punches. Curses and insults would be yelled out at the fighter from their opponents’ fans. In the worst case scenario, one coach might sneak poison into the water bottle of the other fighter.

Boxing fans

But the  boxers were very cordial to each other. They fought with the attitude of two good friends playing chess. In one match the blue fighter swung a hard punch to hit his red opponent. He missed because the red boxer ducked just in time to avoid the blow.  The force of the missed punched cause the blue fighter to swing around. The quick thinking red opponent use the opportunity to get in a good kick to the blue fighter’s back. The blue guy staggered for a moment. When he caught his balance again, he motioned to the red boxer, “That was a good one!”

After each fight and some rounds, Taryn noticed that they seemed to be joking with each other. My guess is that they probably all train together and have been doing so for years. They might have all been friends and fighting comrades since childhood.

a photo from the concession stand

For the record, there was only one bloody nose. The boxer managed to stop the bleeding and was able to get on with the fight.

The most entertaining part of a Muay Thai match is the coaches and trainers… and whatever fan or passerby that wanted to animatedly give his or her two cents.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Silom
(สีลม)

How to get there:

Website

Notes:

  • Silom is a street that goes through the tourist area of Bangkok, one of the many districts in Bangkok.
  • If you walk the length Silom street, you will find all the backpackers in Bangkok, well most of them at least.
  • Along Silom road there are many swanky shops and hotels.
  • The hostels are on intersecting streets and alleys.

Oriental Pier (N1)

How to get there:

  • 13°43’15.4″N 100°30’46.5″E

From the  Chao Phraya River (แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา) –

  • Take a boat and ask for N1.

From Silom Street –

  • Head west to the end of the street.
  • When you come to the end of the street make a right on Charoen Krung (ถนนเจริญกรุง). This would mean that you are now heading northish.
  • Walk past Assumption College.
  • Then turn left on Soi Charoen Krung 40. It is the first street that goes all the way to the river.

Phone:

  • 02-623-6001-3

Website

Downloads:

  • Map1
  • Map2 Stops and tourist attractions
  • Map3 Tourist Ferry Map
  • Map4 the best ferry map you’ll find

Cost:

  • Very cheap. Normally about 12-30THB for a ride.

Hours:

  • about 04:30 – 21:30 everyday depending on the stop
  • Timetable

Notes:

  • Riding the ferry is a very cheap and easy way to go short distances near central Bangkok.
  • It’s not that great, however, during rush hour or for very long distances.

Phra Sumen Fort
(Pom Pra Sumen)

How to get there:

  • 13°45’50.4″N 100°29’44.5″E

By boat –

  • Go to Phra Athit (N13) Pier.
  • Head straight to Thanon Phra Athit (street)
  • then take a left.

Address: 

Thanon Phra Athit
Chana Songkhram, Bangkok 10200

Cost:

  • Free.
  • You cannot enter the fort. You can only look at it from the outside.

Hours:

  • Always available. You cannot enter the fort. You can only look at it from the outside.

Notes:

  • This fort was built back in 1783 during the reign of King Rama I.
  • There isn’t much to do here but walk by and look at it, since it seems to be closed to the public.

Muay Thai
(Thai Boxing)
(มวยไทย)

How to get there:

There are many stadiums in which to view Muay Thai. We went to Rajadamnern Stadium (สนามมวยราชดำเนิน), but if we were patient we could had seen a fight for free.

Here is a list of the Stadiums and their websites (if any):

Address: For Rajadamnern Stadium

Rajadamnern Nok Rd.
Pompab Satroo pai
Bangkok 10200 Thailand

Phone:

  • 66 (0) 2281 4205,
  • 66 (0) 2280 1084

Website

e-mail: info@rajadamnern.com

Cost:

  • 1,000 (3rd class) – 2,000 (ring-side) THB

Hours:

  • M, W, Th 18:30-23:00
  • Su 17:00 – 20:00 & 20:30 – 0:00

Notes:

  • When you go to buy tickets, if you’re not getting free ones, someone will tell you that the price is double because tonight is the championship match. They might also say that tonight is the last fight of the season. This is utter nonsense. There is always some match going on. Besides what do you care whether you see a champion fight or some semi-pro sparring?
  • There are some travel agencies that will sell you tickets for the 1,000 (3rd class) – 2,000 (ring-side) THB. If you cannot find any of them* then go to the Holiday Inn on Silom and buy your tickets there. It is more expensive, but for the same price as being cheated, you get a free limo ride to stadium and then back to the Holiday Inn.
  • Personally I prefer to watch the kids fight. There is almost no blood when kids fight.

*We found one completely accidentally when we got lost and I have no idea where it is.

Map:


Posted in Bangkok, Bangrak, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Non-Immigrant Visa for Thailand

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 27, 2009

December 25-26, 2009

All Pictures

Dinner in Laos along the MeKong Delta

Non-Immigrant Visa

The main reason why Mark and I went to Laos was the same reason most people go to Laos; to get a non-immigrant visa so that we can apply to get a visa to work in Thailand. So the question is, “How does one get a work permit to work in Thailand?” Well, it’s seems that very few people know.

You see the problem is that the Thai government keeps changing the laws, so that even the people who obtained a nonimmigrant visa 6 months ago cannot give anyone any advice. So what I say below might not even be true by the time you read this.

The lady who works at the HR department at our company told Mark and me that we first needed to go to Laos, find the Thai embassy there, then apply for a nonimmigrant visa, then re-enter Thailand. That sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The way things have worked out for us with the New Year’s holidays, is that we have a whole week to play around in Laos when we should really be back at work grading tons of mid-term exams. Unfortunately, since I cannot come into work my boss is the one with the stacks of exams and the red pen. Well, unfortunate for him…

We’ll see how things unfold…

Thai Government Bus to Nong Khai

Thai Long Distance Buses

I will not go all the way and say that I strongly recommend not getting on a Thai long distance bus. There are many places in Thailand that the train just does not go. But let me just say this:

1. It’s uncomfortable.

Let’s ignore the bumping around, the guy snoring in the seat behind me, the fact that every time a Thai gets his or her hands on an a/c unit* they have to make the room or bus feel like the inside of a refrigerator, and the dirty bathroom or lack thereof. I am 5’9″ (175cm). I just don’t fit in the seats. Unless I’m in a 1st class bus, I feel a bit squished.

*This is not only true with the Thais, but any people who live in a warm climate. Floridians do this to the point that you always need to bring a sweater with you when you leave the house in case you need to go indoors.

2. It’s dangerous!

Somewhere along this ride, maybe around midnight, I woke up. Looking out the window, seeing trees whoosh by, I realized that we were going way too fast for a bus on a 2-lane, unlit road. What if we hit something. Just then we sped past an overturned truck with a passenger or driver running around frantically.

To make this story at bit more sensational I will tell you that this was the 2nd truck accident I saw that night. The first one looked as if a piano had fallen on a truck. I’m sure that if I could have stayed awake longer I would have seen more.

I think the bus driver saw the same overturned truck that I did, because soon after we passed it, he slowed down and paced himself the rest of the way. It’s nice having a bus driver who wants to live.

Looking for a place to eat in Laos

I’m convinced that all tuk-tuk drivers are out to get us!

I don’t know what it is about Mark and me, but we’ve never had a tuk-tuk driver quote us a reasonably overprice cost for a ride. Once, while just 2 skytrain stops away from the Siam Center, we asked a tuk-tuk driver how much it would cost to get to said Siam Center. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “200Baht”. Are you freaking kidding me!? We eventually took an air-conditioned taxi, got stuck in traffic and it still only cost 45Baht.

Tuk-tuks cheaper than taxis… my eye!

Merry Communist Christmas!

When we arrived at the bus station in Vientiane, we were approached by scores of tuk-tuk drivers. Even though the bus was packed with tons of people standing in the aisle there seemed to be more tuk-tuk drivers than potential customers.

They swarmed around Mark and me, getting in our way. We had to push a few tuk-tuk drivers aside so that we could get to our backpacks. I showed a tuk-tuk driver the address to our hostel. He didn’t seem to know where it was, but he told me that could take us there for 200Baht; the magic number! “How can you take us there for 200Baht when you don’t know where there is?”

When Mark and I looked at the map we realized that the hostel was within walking distance. I know 200Baht isn’t a lot of money. 200Baht is about 7USD, but Mark and I work for Baht now. The way we think about it is, dinner usually costs us about 50-60Baht each, including drinks, when we eat out. This tuk-tuk driver wanted to charge us the cost of 4 dining out meals for a 5 minute ride.

We decided to walk instead.

All Pictures


Laos 
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
  • How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.

Phone:

  • Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Police 191
    • Fire & Ambulance 190

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
    • You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
  • If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.

Mo Chit Long Distance Bus Station
(North/Northeastern Bus Terminal)
(สถานีขนส่งสายเหนือ)
(sathanii Mo Chit)

This bus station is used to get buses heading north and northeast as the name implies.

How to get there:

  • 13°48’40.1″N 100°32’52.3″E

All the travel guides will tell you that it’s near Chatuchak Park which is near the Mo Chit Skytrain station. What they fail to tell you is that Chatuchak is a freakishly large park and being in this park doesn’t guarantee that you are near anything, much less the bus station.

-By bus (recommended):

  • walk to your nearest bus stop and look for any of the buses, listed below, headed in the bus station’s direction. I still have not figured out how to find this information before boarding a public bus in Bangkok, so ask the people standing nearby.
  • The Terminal is the last stop for all these buses.
  • bus #: 49, 77, 104, 122, 136, 145, 159, 170, 509, 517, 523, 547

Address:

999 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Chatuchak, Bangkok, 10900

Phone:

  • +66 (0) 2936 2841-3

Notes:

Ladies, if you need to use the bathroom when the station is crowded, plan of spending at least 15 minutes waiting in line. …and bring 3 Baht with you and of course, your own TP.


Nong Khai
(เทศบาลเมืองหนองคาย)

Nong Khai is the town in Thailand nearest to Friendship Bridge and Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

How to get there:

  • 17°53’02.4″N 102°45’02.8″E

From Bangkok:

by bus from Mo Chit Bus Station (10 hours):

  • 700Baht for 1st class bus – w/ toilet; 3 seats to a row
  • 350Baht for 2nd class bus – w/o toilet; 4 seats to a row
  • I don’t recommend anything lower that a 2nd class bus because only the 1st and 2nd class buses have a/c.

by Train from Bangkok from Hua Lamphong Train Station.

  • Here is the schedule from 2009.
  • 1,317Baht 1st class sleeper
  • Baht 2nd class sleeper w/ac
    • 708 (top)-778 (bottom)
  • I don’t recommend anything lower than a 2nd-class sleeper for this 10 hour journey. Normally I would always go for the a/c option, but on the train ride back to Bangkok in 1st-class’ a/c compartment I was freezing my butt off. We didn’t even turn on the berth’s a/c; it was the train itself that was so cold.

Vientiane
(ວຽງຈັ)
(เวียงจันทน์)

How to get there:

There are buses that take you from the Nong Khai bus station to Vientiane’s bus station.

    1. The first stop is at Thai immigration. Everybody gets off the bus and goes through the passport control. The buses are sometimes packed with people standing in the aisle, so I don’t know how they know when everyone is back on the bus. But, they do.
    2. Then they take you over Friendship Bridge and into Laos.
    3. The next stop is at Laos immigration. Once again everyone gets off and on again after passing through passport control. If you need to get a visa for Laos, bring a passport-sized photo of yourself and head to the “visa at the Border” line. It is the shortest line and it’s not the line where everyone else is standing. There is a sign posted that gives the cost of the visa depending on what country you are from. Once you get your passport back you can skip the other lines and just walk into the country.
    4. Then the bus takes you to the bus terminal in downtown Vientiane.

If you take the train to Nong Khai and take a tuk-tuk to the Thailand Passport control don’t worry. There is a shuttle for about 20THB that goes between the Thai and Laos immigration. So, there is no need to go to the bus station for the shuttle into Laos.

At the Laotian border, there are many cabs, tuk-tuk, and shuttles into Vientiane.

Notes:

In Vientiane you can use Baht. Your change will be in Laotian KIP, though. Don’t get too much KIP because it’s hard to exchange KIP for anything else when you leave.

Map:

 

Posted in Bangkok, Laos, Thailand, Vientiane | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How I got a job, apartment, and cell phone in Thailand in 6 days

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 19, 2009

December 7-12, 2002

Getting BTS tickets to go job hunting

We didn’t end up heading down south.

This is a spoof of Finding a Job in Thailand in 10 Days. If you’ve ever thought about packing it all in and moving to Thailand, you’ve read that article. Mark and I read it before moving to Bangkok hoping that it would work for us. Turns out that it was easier than we thought… for us at least.

I would not recommend anyone else doing the same. We were incredibly lucky!

looking for jobs in the hostel’s lobby

We’ve read many blogs and websites on the best way to get jobs in Thailand and here is what we learned.

  1. December and January are the worst months to find a job in Thailand.
  2. March and April are the best.
  3. You need a 120-hour TEFL or TESOL to get a job. Less than 120 hours just won’t do.
  4. Employees tend to not answer e-mails, so it’s better to call or just show up at the company.
  5. Being white helps.
  6. Being Asian hurts.

There are exceptions to this, as with many things in life. Mark and I got to Thailand in December and neither of us had a 120 Tefl or Tesol certification at the time. (In 2013 the JET Programme subsidized my 140 hour TEFL certification.) Neither of us are white and Mark is, in fact, Asian. Before getting to Thailand we sent out tons of e-mails and made many phone calls once we got here. No one replied; not even the people who put ads in the newspaper.

Getting a hair cut to go job hunting

Here is what we did.

Dec 1-6: 

We arrived in Bangkok on December 1st and didn’t really do anything the first week. We applied to a couple of jobs here and there but I wasn’t really feeling any of them. In fact, I hoped  that I would not get any of those jobs because the companies looked a bit shady.

Then on our 6th day in Bangkok, in the newspaper, I found an ad for some jobs in public high schools in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. I have learned through past experience that it is far better to work at a public school than at a cram school.

I sent them an e-mail stating that I wanted a job. I also sent a copy of my diploma, resume, and references. I was not really expecting to get a job right away, but rather I hoped to secure one starting in January. So when they did not reply, I wasn’t too worried.

Mark on the other hand was starting to panic. He had sent out many e-mails and job applications months before leaving Korea, but no one was replying. This is normal. I read on one blog that some companies might actually be in desperate need for teachers, but the person in charge of answering e-mails might not speak English very well and therefore no responses are given.

So Mark decided that the next day we would really start looking for jobs for REALS. No more half-heartedly reading the job ads in the papers then spending the day sightseeing. We were going to get our sh!t together!

Now, instead of sitting on a beach I have papers to grade. Be careful what you wish for!

Dec 7: Day 1 – Job Hunt

On our second Monday in Thailand we decided to seriously look for a job, then head down south to the beaches the following week if nothing turned up. I managed to calm Mark down about the whole job hunt thing by promising to work really hard job hunting for a bit if I could sit on a beach as a reward for my efforts.

“We have months worth of money saved.”  “It’s better to be relaxed and tanned for job interviews.” “This is a great time to head to the beach” These were my best arguments. I was quite proud that I came up with them…

Monday was a holiday so we just put some employment packets together. We made 12 folders each with our resume, cover letter, copy of diplomas, references, and a photo inside. We looked up the addresses of companies we were going to visit to give our packets to. Then we got our nice interview clothes ready. Mark even got a hair cut.

We would end up only handing out a few of our packets.

Invited to a random party in the lobby of our new apartment. Free Thai Food and monk blessings!

Dec 8: Day 2 – Job Hunt

On the 8th we started our job hunt. The first stop was not too far from our hostel. It was my first choice; the job from the newspaper I had e-mailed earlier. I really didn’t want any other job. We went to the BFITS headquarters and asked for jobs. They were actually surprised to see us. They had one math teacher who had just quit and another English teacher who was feeling home sick and on the verge of quitting. We were hired the next day.

Even though we pretty much had these jobs, Mark wanted to continue with the job hunt. “Nothing is guaranteed until you have a signed contract,” he said. I agreed with him so we continued. We went to the companies on our list, but they seemed unhappy to see Mark. We handed out a few more packets and it was clear that they weren’t impressed with Mark or his Asianess.

One even challenged his English-speaking ability by saying, “We only take native English. You no native English.” Well I don’t know what else he can be ’cause he only speaks English… We soon gave up, bought ice cream cones, and went for a stroll in a park.

The Crazy Company Party

Dec 9: Day 3 – Company Party!

Early Wednesday morning Mark and I went to see my new school. That afternoon we signed our contracts. That evening we went to the company year-end party, which was extremely entertaining! Thursday was a holiday and Friday was my first day of work.

Our new rooftop pool

Dec 11: Day 4 – Hunt for an Apartment

Thursday Mark and I went apartment hunting. We went to the area were we wanted to live and just walked into the apartment buildings there. Some had apartments for rent, some didn’t. We had better luck with the newer apartments. We narrowed our choices down to two places. One place had bigger apartments, but it was older. The other was brand new, just built in January, with a gym, a pool, and a sauna, but it was smaller. The rent for both were about the same. We picked the newer building.

By Saturday night we moved into the Life apartment building. I’m hoping that by using that gym and pool everyday I’ll be in great shape by the time I leave Thailand.

on the phone. My boss has more grading for me to do.

Dec 12: Day 5 – Getting a Phone

Mark didn’t start work for 2 weeks, so while I was at work Mark got busy making our apartment more livable. He found an internet company, a place to get phones, and a place to get dishes, sheets, and other home things.

The phone was pretty easy to get. Mark got his at a department store. He found one of the cheapest phones and got a prepaid plan with a sim card. I got the same thing more or less at MBK near the Siam Center.

You can also use whatever phone you have if you just change the sim card. I heard that you can find out how to unlock your phone online, but I’m not technical. You can also pay someone to unlock it for you.

The new place came with furniture.

Dec 13: Day 6 – Moving in 

We moved in. Bought a few things for the apartment. We didn’t have to buy much since the apartment came fully furnished.

So, here I am in Thailand one week later with a job, a phone, and an apartment. I have several stacks of papers to grade and tons of grades to record. It all seemed to have happened too fast. Already I’m avoiding the gym like a pro.

Here’s a short video from the BFITS’ year end party.

Posted in Bangkok, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

We want to see a ladyboy show

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 6, 2009

October 2-7, 2007

All Pictures

This is the Standing Buddha all the tuk-tuk drivers want to take you to.

You want to travel alone!?

On my first trip to Thailand, I went with my friend Melodie. We were working at the same company in Seoul until she decided to go back home to continue her education. Before heading back to Canada, she wanted to travel a bit first. I joined her for the Thailand leg of her trip.

She then went alone to northern Thailand and then to India. I was so impressed that she would, as a female, travel by herself and think nothing of it. The next year, while still working for the same company, when my vacation time came around, I went to China alone. If Melodie could do it, and enjoy it, then I could too.

Our first tuk-tuk ride

The Lone Traveler

There are many benefits to traveling alone. You can use the time to “be one” with your thoughts and do what YOU want to do when you want to do it. You can also meet tons of new people to travel with for a few days, part ways, and then meet other new people to travel with; if you want.

I enjoy traveling with friends and family, but there is something to traveling alone. One isn’t better than the other. They both have benefits and draw-backs. I always make sure, when traveling alone or with friends, to regularly e-mail friends and family back home so that if something does happened to me, there would be someone who notices a change in the communication pattern.

But Melodie’s inspiration didn’t just get me started on solo travelling. She was the one who encouraged me to start blogging about my travels. I think that what she was really doing was getting more friends on her travel blog network, but whatever. This is the end result.

When I got home from this trip I put a few pictures up on the site and forgot about it until she did her entry on her trip through India. That’s when I wanted to blog about every trip I had ever taken. I found myself planning trips just so that I could have something to write about.

The reclining Buddha

Eventually, I would outgrown the travel blog site I was using. I looked for a blogging format that better matched my needs. I found WordPress and started the blog you are now reading. And it all started with Melodie.

M or F? We’ll never tell…

We came to see some ladyboys!

All I really wanted to do in Thailand was to see a ladyboy show and ride an elephant. I felt that our chances of seeing a ladyboy show would go down to zero once we left Bangkok, so we had to get that done there.

Our first night in Bangkok we walked around asking people who looked helpful, “Where can we go to see a ladyboy show?” We got strange looks and I was beginning to wonder if they thought we were looking for prostitutes.

2 glamorous lady boys and me

Seeing how things were going we thought that it would be better to mentioned the singing and dancing we expected to be included in a show. That way folks wouldn’t get the wrong idea. “Oh, you want to see a ladyboy show! Okay. Go see Cabaret.”

The show was amazing. Even in our cheap seats the show was unforgettable. The songs, the dancing, the entertainers playing with the audience all made for a grand evening. I highly recommend it!

happy to a part of the tuk-tuk scam

Tuk-tuking around

The next day, our first full day in Thailand, we went out to see the sights. We got pulled into one tuk-tuk scam after another. Lucky for us, we didn’t have any money and all they did was waste our time, which we had plenty of.

One of the scams started when a tuk-tuk driver’s friend convinced us that the Grand Palace was closed, but it would be opened later. In the mean time we could take a cheap tuk-tuk tour of Bangkok. He happened to have a cousin or friend who drove a tuk-tuk.

This tour came with free admission to several temples that most tourists don’t know about. (No one knows about them because they are not tourist attractions, just regular functioning temples and they are always free.) There was just one catch… The driver had to take us to tailor shops and jewelry stores where we had to look around for about 10 minutes. We didn’t have to buy anything, but we did have to go in and look interested.

one of the many tailor shops

It was presented to us like this tuk-tuk driver was actually scamming the shop owners who pay them in gasoline to bring in tourists. He gets enough gas to run his tuk-tuk for the day and we got nothing but benefit. I kind of felt we were helping this guy out, though the whole set-up made no sense to me financially.

The guy took us to several places, first a shop then a temple then another shop and so on. When it was time to go into a shop we did the mandatory 10-minute look around, sometimes with awkward conversations, then we would leave. At first everything was okay. But, after a few stops the driver got a little angry.

“You’re not going to buy anything!?” He started talking to us with an annoyed tone.

We might have, only he took us the tailor shops that made suits and jewelry stores that sold diamonds and rubies.We couldn’t afford any of those! Besides, what am I going to do with a suit? Shove it in my backpack with my flip-flops and snorkel?

If they took us to a trinket or sarong shop we could have easily drop $20-30 on clothes and stuff. But, there was just no way we would buy a $500 diamond ring or a $200 suit. We were backpackers!

Other scams were less time-consuming. They were mostly about overcharging us for short tuk-tuk rides. These weren’t so bad, since even with a price hike the rides were still inexpensive. The only thing I really felt cheated out of was air conditioning.

It was very hot and tuk-tuks have no fans or other type of cooling. We were out in the elements and breathing the air of downtown Bangkok. After just one day of this, we had had it with Bangkok. That night, we took a late bus to the countryside to the town of Trat.

My new 45-year-old friend

Now bring on the Elephants!

From Trat we took a boat to Koh Chang and ending up on one of the many backpacking beach side places with a hippy sounding name. It was cheap. The food was delicious and cheap. There were many interesting people to talk to. It was great.

I would wake up early in the morning, have breakfast, swim a little, then walk around to the other resorts meeting other people and finding interesting things to do. Someone would recommend renting a scooter, for example. Then someone else would point out some backpacker limping around on crutches as, “what happens when you rent a scooter.” There were many tales of “Holiday Horrors” presented in the form of “I met a guy who met a guy  who rented a scooter”.

Melodie got a new tattoo on Koh Chang which was done with the bamboo and hammer method. I thought about getting a small tattoo somewhere where it wouldn’t hurt, but such a place on the body just does not exist. I am still tattoo free and I’m okay with that.

We rode an elephant, fed him, and washed him too! While on our elephant ride through the jungle, Melodie’s bag fell off the seat and onto the path behind us. Without any prompting from anyone, the elephant stopped, turned his head, and picked up the bag with his trunk and handed it randomly to anyone on his back. We were impressed!

This looks like a nice place for lunch.

For the Rest of My Life

The sea was a bit rough since monsoon season was just ending. I couldn’t swim as much as I would have liked. The sea was at its calmest in the early morning so that is when I went swimming. In the early afternoon when the day was very hot, I would find a shady spot in a hammock to relax and read.

On one of those hot afternoons everything made sense. This was when I had a flash of clarity. I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. I wanted to do this many times over and in many other countries. I wanted to travel and see the world.

Right now, Mark and I are just about sick of Bangkok. We’re going to do some serious job hunting in the next few days and head down south on Friday. I’m not sure where we’ll end up. Maybe Krabi and on the Phi Phi Islands.

Goodbye to new friends I’ll never see again

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Calypso Cabaret

How to get there:

  • 13°45’04.6″N 100°31’50.5″E
  • Any tuk-tuk or cab driver worth his salt should know where  Calypso is.
  • It’s near the Ratchathewi BTS in the Asia Hotel.

Address:

Asia Hotel 296 Phayathai Rd., Bangkok 10400

Phone:

  • 02-65333960-2

Website

Cost:

  • 1,200THB for the show not including a meal

Hours:

  • Shows – 20:15 & 21:45 everyday

Videos:

Notes:

  • This is where most tourists go to see a ladyboy show.

Map


Trat
(ตราด)

How to get there:

From Bangkok:

  • Go to Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekamai Bus Terminal. You can find it near the Ekamai BST station (E7).
  • Go out exit 2 of the BST station and make a u-turn.
  • You’ll see the bus station once you pass the 7-11.
  • Buses leave for Trat every hour.

You can also fly there.

Cost:

  • Bus ticket cost – 200THB

Ko Chang
(Elephant Island)
(เกาะช้าง)

How to get there:

  • 12°02’57.3″N 102°19’36.8″E

From Trat:

  • Take the ferry from Tha Ko Chang Centrepoint to Tha Dan Kao on Ko Chang. 45 minutes

Cost:

  • 80THB 1 way

Notes:

  • It’s called “elephant island” not because it has elephants, though it does have many, but because the island is supposedly shaped like an elephant.

Ban Kwan Chang

How to get there:

  • 12°07’31.5″N 102°17’27.8″E
  • Take a taxi or rent a scooter
  • You can usually ask at the reception desk of your hotel or hostel for help with transportation. They can call a taxi for you.

Hours:

  • 8:30-17:00

Phone:

  • 08-1919-3995

Website:

Cost:

  • 500-900THB

Notes:

  • This is one of the places on Koh Chang where you can ride an elephant.
  • You can also fed, wash, and swim with elephants.
  • When I went there the cost of the ride came with a plate of fruit for you to eat, a bunch of fruit for you to give the elephants, and a bottle of coke (for you, not the elephant).

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Ko Chang, Thailand, Trat | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

I take you there 100Baht

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 4, 2009

December 2, 2009

All Pictures

Nicely sitting Thai Buddhas

Scamming the days away

This is my second time in Thailand and Bangkok, but Mark’s first. I Knew most of the scams, because I’ve been scammed. Well, maybe not scammed. It’s more like I wasted a tuk-tuk drivers time because I didn’t have any money in which he could scam away from me.

Tuk-tuk in traffic

Here are the scams we came across on our first day:

1- The tuk-tuk driver scam

You, with camera and Lonely Planet in hand, the tell-tale signs that you are a tourist (oh, and the fact that you speak no Thai…), are walking down the street heading for a temple or palace. You meet a kind stranger. He tells you that, whatever your destination is, is closed. Oh so sad for you, because you have to wait for several hours before it re-opens.

But wait, he has an idea. He has a friend who is a tuk-tuk driver and he’s willing to drive you around for a couple of hours. And what luck; today happens to be Gullible Tourist Day! This means that the standing Buddha site and some other sites are free. Hurray! Even better, this will only cost you 10baht if you are willing to go to a few shops and have a look around.

The facts are:

Most tourist sites are open from 8:30-15:30. They do not close for lunch. The “lucky for you free for today” sites they want to take you to, are always free. They just want to get you into some shops because these tuk-tuk drivers are hired by jewelry stores and tailors to lure in customers.

Another scam the tuk-tuk drivers pull on tourist is charging 100THB to go from one tourist spot to another. All the touristy stuff are relatively close to each other in either the Grand Palace area or along the Khao San Road.

On a good day a healthy person can do the long walk from the Grand Palace to Khao San Road. Don’t do it though; it’s rarely a good day in Bangkok. Most days are very, very hot, and tourists often get dehydrated just walking around. Plus, Bangkok is far from a pedestrian friendly city.

Okay, so if you live in the west and you earn dollars, pounds, or euro, this is not a lot of money. But you should know that for 200THB you can take a 45 minute cab ride and almost go from one end of Bangkok to another. And taxis come with AC. That’s what 200THB can get you transportation-wise. A 5 minute tuk-tuk ride for 100THB is a ripe off.

I would recommend riding in a tuk-tuk once, to say you’ve done it and get your picture taken. But for the rest of your stay in Bangkok, use the BTS, MRT, a bus, or take an air-conditioned cab.

Thai Taxis: The cheapest transport option, sometimes

2- The flat rate taxi scam

Never agree to pay a flat rate for a taxi. Taxis are supposed to be metered. This “flat rate” that they offer is way more than the actual cost of the ride. If the cab driver will not use his meter, get out.

To find tuk-tuks and or taxis that are more honest, walk a block or so away from any tourist sites. Remember there are more taxis than people willing to ride in them. Never feel that you have no other option. There are buses, a sky train, a subway, ferries, and hundreds more taxis or tuk-tuks in this city.

The place where Mark and I are staying is very close to the river. We found that moving around the tourist sites via ferry is the easiest way to go. If you are not staying near a pier, I recommend going to Saphan Taksin Station and then catching a ferry at Central Pier. But these boats get ridiculously full during the peak hours. …And sometimes they sink.

More notes about Thai taxis..

  • In Bangkok, they are surprisingly cheaper than tuk-tuks.
  • You can pay a cab driver to drive you clear across the country, though you will have to ask in advanced.
  • You are expected to pay all tolls when you get to the toll booth.
    • If you do not want to pay the toll, you must tell the driver before you get in the cab. But, he may refuse to drive you during rush hour. He doesn’t get paid as much for sitting in traffic, so he will rather you pay to take the expressway.
    • With traffic in Bangkok, I find that it is always worth the extra 30THB to not sit in traffic.
    • Most tourists will never need to take the expressway unless you take a cab to the airport.
  • There is an extra 50THB charge for all taxis you take from the airport. This is not really a scam. It’s just how things are.
  • There is no extra 50THB fee to take a taxi to the airport and there might be a toll fee as well.

In a borrowed skirt

3- The clothes rental scam

This one pertains to the Grand Palace. You cannot enter the palace if your legs or shoulders are exposed. There are shops across the street that will rent you clothes for about 30THB. The price isn’t so bad, but the clothing makes tourists look utterly ridiculous!

When you get to the Grand Palace you can get free clothes that don’t make you look like a sucker, for a 100THB deposit. Return the clothes and you get your money back.

The Grand Palace’s Jade Buddha

4- The “You’re from _____! I have a cousin who lives in _____!

This one has never been tried on me. When random Thais ask me where I’m from I say, “The Virgin Islands“. All I get is a blank look and a change in conversation. But I see this one being worked on many people around me.

Just today I overheard, “Oh, my brother studied History in Frankfurt!” What a small world. From what I’ve read of this scam, it can end with either a tuk-tuk ride to nowhere, a huge pub bill, or a dead hooker in your hotel room.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

The Grand Palace
(Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang)
(พระบรมมหาราชวัง)

How to get there:

  • 13°45’01.1″N 100°29’29.5″E
  • Take a boat to Pier N9 or bus #508

Website

Cost:

  • 350THB

Hours:

  • 8:30 – 15:30

Notes:

  • This place is huge and Bangkok is very hot. Bring lots of water.
  • Shorts or sleeveless shirts are not allowed in the palace, but you can borrow clothes for free with a deposit.
  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you that a temple is closed. All temples are open everyday from about 8:30 to 16:00 rain or shine.

The Reclining Buddha
(Wat Pho)
(วัดโพธิ์)

How to get there:

Walk from the Grand Palace, Pier N8, Bus 508

Phone:

  • (662) 225-9595,
  • 622-0100,
  • 221-1375

Website

Cost:

  • 50THB

Hours:

  • 08:00 – 17:00

Notes:

You can get a massage here.

  • Regular Massage 250 THB/ hour
  • Herbal Massage 350 THB/ hour.
  • Don’t wear shorts or you will have to rent a skirt to cover up. Guys will have to rent pants.
    • Well… it’s so hot on most days, it might be better to pay a small fee to rent a skirt than having to spend the whole day in long pants.
    • The best thing would be to wear Capri pants or a skirt that covers your knees.

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Ko Ratanakosin, Thailand | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: