I tell ya, knowing Thai is really important to getting a good deal on stuff. Vendors will often quote their prices in English and Thai, with the English price being twice as high— so people who don’t know their numbers are screwed. They also try to jack up the prices on stuff only foreigners use, like cereal (I’ve seen some for 6 dollars! Whereas a Thai meal is about 60 cents.) Some people must be really gullible.
(illustration by yours truly)
There are also plenty of tuk-tuk (open-air taxi) scams. I was lucky to be part of one on my first day here. I got into one and it started going– then a block away the driver turned around and asked if we could make a stop real quick at a jewelry shop. Luckily I knew what was happening… these guys take you to the jewelry shop, make it hard for you to leave, and then trick (or force) you into buying a bunch of gems that are basically worthless.
It’s hard enough to get around without those guys trying to trick you. Taxis can be pretty difficult– here, if the driver doesn’t want to go where you’re going, he will just keep driving. One night a friend and I were trying to get home, and we literally went through about 10 different taxis who didn’t want to take us. Some of them, when we said where we were headed, would slowly turn their heads away and drive off, without giving a reply, or waiting for us to close the door!
Walking isn’t much of an option either… the streets are so confusing, and a lot of them are only a few blocks long. I’ve spent hours looking for a place before. And the worst part is that when you ask a Thai directions, he/she will point you in some direction whether they know where the place is or not. I’m not sure whether it’s because they don’t want to be impolite by turning down your request for directions, or because they just want you to scram…
Anyhow, I think this concludes my rant about money, taxis, and other exciting stuff.