Friday, July 29, 2005

Everybody Grab Your Ankles!

Brian has gone to watch Muay Thai boxing for the night and I decided to stay home. So here I sit at our guest house in Chiang Mai. After one night in Bangkok (cue 80's music here...) we decided to head north. As luck would have it, Bangkok had one more in store for us...

You know that feeling when you know you're getting screwed but you don't really know what to do about it (anyone who has taught English in Korea will know what I mean)? Yah, that was us at the tourist agency in Bangkok. The pushy sales lady told us it would cost 890 baht to get from Bangkok to Chaing Mai. Too much. "For you, special price...790 baht." she says. Still too much. We knew it was too much. This greasy lady had an easy answer for every question we asked...

"Why are those French people paying 700?"
"Oh, they go tomorrow...tomorrow special price. You go tonight, more expensive."
"Hmmm...well, maybe we should go tomorrow too..."
"Bangkok very expensive. You stay here one more night it more expensive than to stay in Chiang Mai. They pay cheap price plus hotel tonight. You get better deal."
"Maybe we can go in the daytime tomorrow..."
"Sleeping all night is cheaper because you don't have to pay hotel."

"But I won't see anything if I go at night..."
"Nothing to see."
"Isn't Chiang Mai in the Northern mountains...lush cool green forests and all that?"
"You can see later. More leg room if you go on night bus."
"OK, that's just a bold faced lie."
"Thanks. You have bold face too."

Anyway, she won. Not because we are suckers and we didn't know what we were doing but because we wanted to get the heck out of Bangkok. So we paid 790 baht. Then we checked with the other ticket office once we got where we were going and they charge 400 baht. Just what we figured.

So last night we rode the bus all night to Chiang Mai and arrived at 6:00 in the morning. We paid 150 baht (the snake lady tried to get us to book with her "sister" for 450 baht. Ha!) and went straight to a guest house to sleep. In the afternoon we found our "permanent residence" (in Chiang Mai at least) and booked for a few days. We've been having a rough go of things and we are both feeling tired of travelling. We feel like this trip is the opportunity of a lifetime but piggy backing it on to the end of our time in Korea may have been a bad idea. We are tired and perpetually unenthusiastic it seems, which is a real shame. All I want is to go where a store is a store, a restaurant is a restaurant and a street is for cars. The melee of curry, tuk-tuks and hawkers is quickly losing its charm.

1 comment:

terri said...

There are at least three prices for everything in Thailand -- the Thai price, the stupid farang (foreigner, and also pineapple oddly) price and the haggling farang price. The haggling farang price can drop considerably if you start walking away, but will always remain higher than the Thai price.

Some places, like the Emerald Palace in Bangkok, get brazen and actually post the Thai price and the farang price. For our part, every time we wanted something we just got my stepmother to do the haggling.

I hope you enjoy Chiang Mai.