Where are you going?

Annoying Tuk-Tuk Driver

Originally uploaded by Ian Fuller

“What are you looking for?”.

“I take you on city tour. One hour, only twenty baht!”

Every foreigner hears this in the tourist areas of Bangkok. I think most now know that it is not wise to take these guys up on their offers. At best you’ll get fleeced and at worst pulled into some scam.

It is not only tuk-tuk drivers. There is a pair of men who wait every day outside Silom Subway Station and approach foreigners. I’m invariably asked “What are you looking for?”. I invariably respond politely but firmly no thanks.

You’d think they’d recognize me by now. I pass that way two or three times a week and always pause to see if i can get my Nikon Coolpix P6000’s GPS to get a fix before proceeding.

A few years ago I met one man on Silom Road who spoke excellent English and claimed to be an off-duty police officer. I could not believe that if he were genuine he had nothing better to do than approach tourists in that way.

I find they are more persistent if they think you are new in town and lost. If you reply in Thai however briefly (“mai!”, or if you want to be polite “mai khrap!”) they immediately give up.

I have only been taken once and that was in 1984 when I was staying in the Indra Regent Hotel. This was pre-Skytrain and I wanted to go down to see the river. I let a taxi driver take me. I got to the river eventually but we had to stop several times at souvenor and jewellery shops so he could get his commission. It was frustrating but the man was agreeable and I wasn’t in a hurry.

I have thought that if I have some free time I should take them up on their offer of a free tour and use it as a cheap photographic platform. I know enough to refuse any scams. But maybe they would get nasty when they realise I am wasting their time.

Actually, tuk-tuks are not great for photography as the roof is too low. But I know I’d keep my GPS signal.



3 Responses to “Where are you going?”

  1. Toucanzoo Says:

    I know exactly where you are coming from.

    These guys have told me all sorts of excuses.

    BKK is a friendly place for the most part but no one would go out of their way to talk to you like that without wanting something.

  2. GB-in-TH Says:

    Indeed. I don’t know how Thailand compares with other countries. I think parasites gather wherever the conditions are right. And you do see a lot of lost tourists here who are looking for help.

    It’s easy to forget how confusing and intimidating Bangkok can be for a newcomer and tourists can be very gullible off their home turf. Many who would not entertain an offer in London or New York believe that the nice man who approached them speaking English could be genuine.

    There’s a web site about the subject: http://www.bangkokscams.com/

  3. Saranrom Royal Garden « Bkkphotographer's Blog Says:

    […] a good place to escape from the touts telling tourists the Palace is closed and offering them tuk-tuk rides to their favourite jewellers […]

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