Bangkok

Right: Bangkok Sky Train

Stepping off the airport bus into Banglamphu, at the center of Bangkok, I entered a world vastly different to any I was familiar with. For a start I was in a city with a population twice greater than my own country (New Zealand). My senses were bombarded by a plethora of images smells and sounds. A man immediately tried to sell me a "genuine" Armani jacket. He seemed heartbroken when I wouldn't take part in the bargaining process.

Bangkok sky train

As I wandered off into the maelstrom I wondered to myself if I had indeed just seen a deep fried rodent on a stick. Eventually I came to Khao San Road, the backpacker ghetto at the heart of Bangkok and checked into the "Good Luck Guest House" for the night.

Orientation consisted of just wandering around the streets for the first day. I like to get a feel for a place from the ground up first. I decided to trek over to Dusit Zoo for starters and on route was descended apon by a Tuk-tuk driver, "Where you go?". I told him I didn't need a ride but he persisted, "Zoo closed today, I take you all round city, 20 Baht". Of course I didn't believe him but finally he knocked the price down to 5 Baht so I figure what have I got to lose? He said he would take me to see some temples and then to the "Expo Centre" whatever that was "last day today" apparently. Anyway he took me to see the Emerald Buddha where I met a well dressed man who spoke reasonably good English. This guy told me he was about to move to Canberra where his brother lives and would finance his trip buy buying cheap jewellery in Thailand and selling it in Australia for a profit. At this point I smelled a rat. This was the famed jewellery scam being played out on my very first day in Bangkok. They con people into buying worthless sapphires and rubies thinking they'll cash in when they get home only to discover what they had bought wasn't as valuable as they had thought. The driver, the man in the suit and the jewellery store are all in on it. It's a well known scam but thousands of tourists fall for it every year.

The driver then takes me to the "Expo Centre", I step into the doorway before turning back, "I'm not interested in this, you said you would take me to see temples." "Temples", he muttered gesticulating down the road. I went for a gander and sure enough when I got back he was gone, no commission. I caught the bus to the zoo.

Bangkok is all things to all people, not really my cup of tea. I found it a bit noisy and polluted so after a few nights I was more than ready to move on and caught the train up to Ayuthaya