Eventually the first day arrived that I was supposed to explore Bangkok on my very own. I just love to start walking and see what will happen next and which places might come to me. I was equipped with the awesome map which Eva handed to me and was ready for this adventure.
I left the accommodation and walked in the direction of a big royal royal road which belonged to some sort of king. According to the map that’s where the governmental buildings were supposed to be located. Before I could realize it, I found myself in front of a crossroad. A monk was standing there, they are to be found at every corner it seems. I did as he did and was waiting for the traffic light to turn green, then crossed the street as he did. Incredible! The traffic in Bangkok is definitely a class of its own, not only that they drive at the other side of the road but neither does the pedestrian crossing seem to mean anything over here. In Germany at least, cars are stopping when a pedestrian stand near the black and white imprint into the road.
On the other side of the road I was again finding my way through booths after booths. One was kind of supposed to walk through a tunnel of booths. I was lucky that the umbrellas were attached to a height which allowed me to not smash my head. I was a bit puzzled though, all of these booths were selling exactly the same items it seemed. They were selling pieces of paper with numbers on them. A Thai then explained that this was the Thai version of playing the lottery. Aha.
I gave in to my internal sense of exploration and finally reached the governmental buildings. You can basically imagine these buildings as most official buildings, temples or buildings of this sort. The roofs were decorated with squiggly garnish and everything was covered in gold. A moment later another Thai was standing next to me, I must have gave the impression that I was lost or not sure what to look for. He seemed to be working at one of those governmental buildings and was eagerly pointing around on my map were I had to go next. I had arrived right at lunch time and all the governmental buildings were closed, so he suggested I’d rather go to a temple. As they were further away in the distance, so not really reachable with my own two feet, he suggested I take a Tuk Tuk. He was about to call one for me but I was rather reluctant. I was on my own and had heard some scary stories and dangers, so I backed off.
I kept on walking and at the next corner another Thai was approaching me. He again pointed toward a Tuk Tuk and he said that it was a special Buddhist holiday and that all Tuk Tuk will only charge 10 Bahnt which is around 30 Cents. To be honest, this sounded definitely like a joke. But he kept on explaining and pointed a couple of different sights out like the “Happy Buddha” which was supposed to be a monument which is only opened once a year (lol), it wasn’t even appearing on my map. He also said that he would take me to the tourist information as well as to some sort of factory. I was ready for an adventure, took the risk and was climbing into the backseat of the Tuk Tuk.
As a result I found myself at the backseat of one of the most crazy rides of my life. My hair was blowing in the wind and I found myself holding on to my bag on the back seat. I was kind of praying that I would arrive safely with all my valuables and money back at the hostel, my transient home, in the evening, while being in the Tuk Tuk I wasn’t quite so sure about that. Eventually the driver did a couple of turns into some backyards and I was really thinking this was the end. However, the driver said that we had now arrived at the “Happy Buddha” and that he would wait for me until I was done, I got out and went inside the temple. I was the only tourist, it was nice but a bit strange.
A chubby Thai was awaiting me and seemed happy to have a visitor. He was quickly putting his bag of chips away and came over to me. I quickly left my flip-flops outside and stepped inside on the red carpet. He was really nice and friendly and explained a few facts around his religion. According to him each day of the week has a different sort of Buddha, if I understood correctly. He wanted me to get onto my knees so he could sprinkle some holy water on top of my head. Well OK, the first stop of this Tuk Tuk adventure I tackled successfully.
I returned to my driver and told my driver that I wanted to skip the factory to go straight to the next big temple but he kindly asked me to go to the factory as he would get gas money from those guys. OK, I got it and thought to give it a shot to take a look for 10 minutes but that I wouldn’t buy anything. It turned out that the shop was as well located in some backyard. Some other Europeans left the shop when we arrived so I kind of felt a bit safer. The factory was indeed some sort of tailoring saloon.
My strategy to look around the shop for 10 minutes was not really working though. I stepped inside and found myself between colorful fabrics and plenty of salesman. The shop was not that big so after a minute or so I knew what was in there. I told them that I only wanted to check out the store and they looked at me strangely. Where was I? I left and returned to the Tuk Tuk even though my driver was chatting with other Tuk Tuk drivers. This was definitely a place where the locals take tourists in order to make some money. But that’s OK, I understand that both Tuk Tuk driver and salesman can profit from this situation.
It then turned out that the tourist office which my driver took me next, was indeed a travel agency which also wanted to sell me stuff. No thanks! This was definitely not an official travel information and was also not to be found on Eva’s amazing map. I returned and really wanted to return to my final temple destination now! Luckily he followed my wishes and when I asked him if it is true about this 10 Baht national Tuk Tuk driver thingy, he was looking at me all sad. I felt bad since he told me that he didn’t get his gas money because I didn’t buy anything at the “factory” and gave him double the amount: 20 Baht (50 Cents) for 3 hours of adventure. I had survived and actually had some fun on the way.
When I walked towards the huge temple I felt incredible lucky. Wow, an enormous huge stature of Buddha made of gold.