Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
With the Kingdom experiencing its normal heavy rains this time of the year, and the Chicken Littles on the message boards running around squawking about floods, it seemed like a good time for an Ubiquitous Plastic Stool Shot! from last year’s high waters.
A cool little shot of an old timey Ubiquitous Plastic Stool sitting high and dry on top of a stack of sand bags while the rising waters swirl by, it reminds you that its a bitch keeping your feet dry when you have twice the number of them. Usually, I’m not sure when this Ubiquitous Plastic Stool design became a thing of the past, but the idea of balancing on three instead of four legs on what already is a precarious mount could be the reason why you don’t run across them often.
Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
Most photographers subscribe to the cliche that a picture is worth a thousand words, and let their work speak for itself. It’s nice if they provide a time frame and locale, but the photographs themselves should tell the rest of the story. So I’m not sure why photographer Agnes Dherbeys felt it necessary to provide an intro to her series of pictures of Sunee Plaza. It’s not a condemnation of the area or the trade plied there, but does come off slightly as though the photographer wanted to distance herself from that world. And her photos seem to be a documentation of Sunee Plaza life with a slight up turn of her nose evidenced by an over use of the word prostitution in her individual “Image Info” notes. Possibly, she’s not a fan. But she is a skilled photographer and has produced a wonderful photo essay – regardless of how you feel about Sunee or Pattaya.
This link is to a photo I just ran across from a trip to Bangkok years ago of one of the many gay bars no longer gracing Bangkok’s streets. Thinking there should be tons of photos online of bars that are no more, I Googled my little heart out. To no avail. If you have any old pix of gogo bars in Bangkok that no longer exist, drop me a note (post a comment, I won’t approve the comment but will email you back). I’d love to publish a historical photo essay of these places (Um, I just mentioned Bangkok twice . . . that might lead you to believe I have no interest in Pattaya bars of yesteryear. And you’d be right. Hint. Hint.)
Blogs that cover Bangkok that don’t focus on the gay bars but do touch on the pink world are always a welcome find. You get a view of the rest of the city, but still from a gay perspective. Ilbonito’s blog does a good job of that, offering up some places around town you may not have heard from, some street photography that will be immediately familiar to you, and the occasional bit of male flesh too. This link takes you to his Bangkok posts, but he also covers other areas of Asia that you may find of interest too. Nicely written with a good mix of post topics and frequently updated, it’s a blog well worth visiting to see what piques your interest.
Because boring your mates at the bar with esoteric trivia is one of life’s little joys: Where the term ‘proof’ comes from in booze.
Ryan Phillippe has always been one of those actors I’d consider doing once. A return engagement would depend on the noises he made. Now that he’s shown off his gorgeous ass as a mature man, I’d do him more than once even if he didn’t make cute little whimpering noises.
I like dykes. It’s nice to hang around with gay folk who have at least as much testosterone as I do. And since I’m still single and available, I’m considering marrying one now too. Cecil Chao Sze-tung, a rather famous Hong Kong rich dude, is not happy that one of his daughter recently announced she married her girlfriend in Paris. Though Cecil has three kids and has never been married himself, he’s not a happy camper about his little girl marrying a little girl. And like most rich people decided his best way of dealing with the problem is to throw money at it. 500 million HK dollars to be precise. All you have to do to be a millionaire yourself is to woo the 33 year old daughter away from her lesbian partner. I’m thinking a close shave and some flannel and I’ve got a good shot at it. But proposals are flooding in from all over the world.
Does size matter? According to a survey run by Gay.net, 44% of the respondents said no. But then they were talking about your penis, not theirs. Slightly over 6,000 people participated in the survey, and there are some surprising results. For example, while 46% said they might break up with a partner who got fat (and 5% said they would without a doubt) 42% would consider dating someone HIV+ and 18% said they would do so without any qualms. Meaning there are more guys willing to give a positive gay man a chance than there are willing to pit up with a fatty An interesting set of stats, but since 19 lesbians decided to take part the answers are obviously screwed up.
George Washington famously brewed it. James Madison purportedly sought to create a cabinet-level Secretary of Beer. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped make it legal to produce and sell (again) by championing legislation repealing Prohibition. Upon signing the bill, he reportedly said, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.” Scarborough Research’s recent poll defines What Your Beer Says About Your Politics.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Thais may think it is elephants that represent their country, but tuk tuks give the pachyderms a run for their money. Though variants are used in surrounding SE Asian countries too, the Thai version stands above the rest and they are as ubiquitous to the country’s urban landscape as are 7/11s. Every guide book mentions them; half claim your visit to the Kingdom is not complete without a ride, the others warn readers to get nowhere near one.
I doubt anyone who isn’t on a heavy daily dose of lithium would ever claim to be a tuk tuk aficionado, but spend much time in Bangkok and sooner or later you will find yourself climbing into or onto one. It’s just a good idea not to do so often. Despite what backpackers think, they are not a cheap mode of transportation, they are not a comfortable way to get around the city, and if a visit to the hospital is one of your favorite holiday pastimes, riding in a tuk tuk is one of the most fool-proof ways of checking that little day of joy off your to-do list.
Regardless of warnings, sooner or later every visitor to Bangkok ends up being chauffeured around in the back of a golf cart on steroids. It’s inevitable that at sometime during your holiday you will enter into a Faustian bargain with a tuk tuk driver to be swept away in a flatulent blast of evil blue fumes. Take a Buddhist approach and rather than say you won’t, instead prepare for when you will. And your best approach to using tuk tuks is to follow the five Ws you learned as a child in school for writing a story: who, what, why, where, and when. Because every tuk tuk ride is a story unto itself. Hopefully, yours will have a happy ending.
The who part of the tuk tuk paradigm is double sided; it is about who should (and should not) ride in one, and whose tuk tuk you should (and should not) climb into. The first rule of using tuk tuks is to recognize that they are used by locals. They are built for locals. That means you are twice the body size the machines were built to accommodate. And if you are twice the size of most tourists to boot, you may squeeze into one but you’ll never be able to get back out. There is a reason there is such a dearth of tuk tuks plying their trade in Pattaya. Both height and girth will work toward your disadvantage.
If the night before you marveled at the flexibility of the boys fucking on stage at the gogo bar and could never imagine pulling off those moves yourself, do not attempt to get into a tuk tuk. You will not be able to step up and squeeze into the passenger compartment at the same time. Try to do so and you can easily find yourself stuck halfway. And for gods sake if your eighty year-old-grandmother is visiting town do not grab a tuk tuk to take her to see Jim Thompson’s House. (Though you may consider sending her off in a tuk tuk on her own if she is rich and you are fondly remembered in her will.)
If there are more than two farang in your party, do not attempt to pile everyone into a single tuk tuk. Much like when boarding a train in Tokyo, the driver will assist in pushing your combined bulk into his ride, but at the end of your trip will be clueless as to how to get the sardines back out of the can. Most of the abandoned tuk tuks you see littering the city’s landscape ended up that way because of being overpacked with farang.
I’d also warn you against ever riding in a tuk tuk with a child, but then most readers of this blog are gay and don’t have kids. Besides, they’re easily replaced anyway. And it’s a cheap proposition to do so in SE Asia.
In any case, if you have decided on taking a tuk tuk as transport, karma will properly deal with your ass so the more important aspect is in selecting the proper driver. Rule #1 is that the driver who just offered to sell you yaba is never a good choice. The one who has been hitting his flask of Mekong Whiskey all afternoon, however, is: you may think he is drunk but he’s just been lubricating his brain to match the driving talents of the rest of his countrymen caroming around Bangkok’s streets. It’s not a bad idea to take a few hits off his bottle yourself.
The friendly tuk tuk drivers outside of your hotel who greet you every morning and offer you a ride are not good choices either. They may be good drivers (though being Thai are probably not) but the risk to your wallet is of more concern than the risk to your health. Their families traded their water buffalo in on a tuk tuk years ago but your wallet is still required to contribute to its health. Ditto for those drivers waiting outside clubs and shopping malls or anywhere else touri gather. You’ll get a better deal by flagging a tuk tuk down, or head down a side street and wake up any of the drivers taking their twelfth nap of the day. If you are really stuck, grab a taxi instead. The fare will be half of what your tuk tuk ride would have cost you.
The other tuk tuk drivers to avoid are those wearing respiratory masks. You might think this is a wise move for those who are forced to spend their days breathing Bangkok’s noxious traffic fumes, but the fact is tuk tuk drivers do not make a lot of money and most can not afford the full face ski mask that is the fashion choice for muggers and thieves the world over. As far as being able to identify the tuk tuk driver who ripped you off thanks to the license posted bearing his picture, there is a better chance that that photo will resemble your mug than his. No problemo. If you actually took your complaint to the police the bribe you’d end up paying them would be higher than your initial loss anyway.
Not all tuk tuks are created the same. Nor are all loads. Locals can do their entire extended family’s shopping for the year and haul it away in a tuk tuk. You’ll be lucky to handle hopping into one with your take out from McDonalds. While it is always amusing to watch a group of backpackers trying to stuff both themselves and their backpacks into a tuk tuk for a ride to the bus or train station, you should avoid becoming such a spectacle yourself. Tuk Tuks are not the best way to get out of the rain either, their tops are designed to direct water flow directly into the passenger compartment. And that mini-flood, given the option, will seek out whatever bags of belongings you decided to carry with you.
Yes, in all things size matters. And with tuk tuks, the shorter the better. A tuk tuk is a good transpo choice for short distances. Like crossing a street. If you need to travel more than a block, a taxi is a better choice. They are also a good choice when you’ve taken the BTS to the closest station to your favorite massage shop and do not want to arrive hot and sweaty since you’ll still have a walk of several blocks in front of you. Sure you could take a motorcy taxi instead, but its difficult to have a happy ending when your brains are splattered across the street. Besides, when they hear you are headed for an afternoon of having your dick massaged, many tuk tuk drivers will offer to throw that bit of pleasure in with the ride. (Just note that happy ending or not after anything longer than a two minute ride in a tuk tuk you’ll be scouring the city for a massage place that offers actual massages.)
Let’s talk traffic. Or what Bangkokians call traffic and the rest of the world calls a parking lot. Taxis cost the same, if not less than a tuk tuk, and are air-conditioned to boot. But in Bangkok’s traffic they just sit there like all of the rest of the vehicles. Except tuk tuks. Even the few rules of the road that Bangkok drivers acknowledge do not apply to tuk tuks. So they are free to putter along when the rest of traffic is stopped. Sidewalks, or what you assumed were sidewalks, are actually designated tuk tuk lanes. So are one way streets with the arrow pointing in the opposite direction you are travelling. And traffic lanes that you’d swear belong to traffic headed your way are fair game for tuk tuk use. So if you have to get somewhere during rush hour in Bangkok (that would be from 6am to 3:30 am) a tuk tuk is your quickest transpo option.
Every touri has to experience at least one scam while holidaying in Bangkok and invariably that means a tuk tuk will be involved. Sure you can buy an overpriced piece of jewelry without riding in a tuk tuk first, but it’s just not the same. And unless you include the tuk tuk in your scam experience you’ll never get to see some of Bangkok’s lesser wats. Or lesser tailors, lesser travel agents, and lesser gem stores. Tuk tuks are key to discovering the ‘Off The Beaten Path’ joys of Bangkok.
If you are a regular visitor to Bangkok you know better than to ride in a tuk tuk, but the gaggle of friends who travelled with you and turned your holiday into a working tour guide’s version of hell probably don’t. Payback is always good for the system and convincing your group that tuk tuks are the only way to get around town will make up for all of the petty annoyances you’ve been having to put up with from them.
Your absolute best time for deciding to hop into a tuk tuk is around two in the morning when the bars have all closed and you’ve polished off several six packs of beer. Properly lubricated, getting into and out of a tuk tuk is a breeze. And if you imbibed too much the ride will help you to hurl before you get back to your hotel room and make a mess of your temporary living quarters. Pulling up to your hotel in a tuk tuk at that hour of the morning is also a good way to establish just how crazy of a farang you are. The hotel staff will then give you a wide berth the rest of your stay as well as responding promptly to any requests you make.
The absolute worse time to pick a tuk tuk as your mode of transportation is when you want to do some sight seeing. Thanks to the extra three feet in height that you carry as a farang, the top of your head will be two inches higher than the interior ceiling of the tuk tuk. The only thing you will be able to see is the top of your driver’s head. The length of the passenger compartment will prevent you from scrunching down more than a foot, which will only put you eye-level with the edge of the tuk tuk’s canopy. Photo ops, other than the ubiquitous back of tuk tuk driver head and rearview mirror shot, will be zilch. But then again at the speed tuk tuks plow through Bangkok’s traffic, anything you might have been able to see would be a blur anyway. And if you could see outside of your chariot, all you would see are locals pointing and laughing at the stupid farang riding in a tuk tuk.
Yes I know it is not a W, but how gets thrown into the mix of 5 Ws and no one has yet figured out an appropriate word that starts with W to replace it. Though with tuk tuks, What In The Hell Are You Doing? might work. Because you will be asking yourself what in the hell am I doing throughout your tuk tuk experience. Nonetheless, knowing how to procure and ride in a tuk tuk can help make your ride a tad bit less dangerous and a lot less expensive.
If you are still new to town you may not yet have had the opportunity to practice your bartering skills. Arranging a tuk tuk ride is a good intro to haggling in Bangkok. The driver will have great fun bartering with you and will still manage to squeeze a few hundred baht out of your cheap ass. But you’ll think you just struck a good deal and that’ll put the same smile on your face that paying 2,000 baht for a fake Rolex at Patpong’s night market will provide you with. For a tenth of the price.
And it is not just price alone that you’ll be haggling about. You’ll want a ride to the night market, the driver will want to take you to his favorite tailor’s shop. You’ll want a ride to a shopping mall, the driver will want to take you to his favorite gem shop. You’ll want a ride to a temple, the driver will take you there but assuming you are such a fine moral person since your interest is in places of worship will want you to help him earn coupons for free gas, or a free lunch, by taking you to his favorite tailor or jewelry store. This is a great deal for you because wherever he needs to go for those freebies will also be selling gems, jewelry, and custom made ready in two hours clothing. And that ride will cost you nothing extra.
Your best bet for getting a driver to take you to where you want to go is to greet him with a big smile and then say, “I’d like to go to three large jewelry stores and at least half a dozen Indian tailor shops. Oh, and throw in a stop where I can buy airline and bus tickets and somewhere I can get a massage too.” Every ounce of blood in his body will immediately flow downward to produce that incredible stiffy your offer just gave him, leaving his brain temporarily weakened and susceptible to your suggestion that he first stop at wherever it is you really want to go. Never feel bad about ditching a tuk tuk drive along the way. If he suspects you have no money left and have already maxed out your credit cards, he’ll do the same to you.
Like most guide books do, I should probably warn you to never get into a tuk tuk without agreeing on the fare first. But that is useless advice. Tuk tuk drivers have caught onto this scam and will agree to whatever ridiculous price you offer while standing at the curb. Twenty minutes later while puttering down a deserted soi filled with dark, angry looking people you’ll in turn agree to whatever price he quotes to deliver you safely to his favorite tailor or jeweler.
If you are one of those tourists who insist on pronouncing Phuket as though it was a dirty word, or who think making a pun out of the word wat is the epitome of travel humor, you’ll also be the type of tourist who thinks clowning around inside of a tuk tuk, or hanging off the side of its cage means fun times. Since I won’t be in that tuk tuk with you, go for it. I love seeing Darwin proven right. But you might consider that three-wheeled vehicles are not what most would call stable, and tuk tuk drivers are often quite unbalanced themselves. The two coupled with your antics are a recipe for injury. But hey, you’ll finally get that laugh out of the rest of us that you’ve been so desperately trying for.
As for the white-knuckle ride most sane touri would like to avoid, well, good luck with that. Heart palpitations along with incipient lung spots are part of the reward for choosing a tuk tuk as your mode of transportation. You’ll quickly learn that, “Slow down!’ is Thai for, “Faster! Faster!” so though it may seem counterintuitive, rather than desperate pleas for the safety of your life and limb your better option is to out-crazy your driver.
No matter how fast he drives, demand that he go faster. Point out the aged and infirm as potential mile markers. Let go with a maniacal laugh and encourage him to squeeze between a pair of busses at 50 MPH. If your driver seems to be losing some of his enthusiasm for NASCAR, reach up and give his head a good rub. That always gets them back on their game. Smile broadly and demand that he part the crowds of backpackers, scammers, sex touri, weirdos, and Nigerian drug dealers as your sputtering two-cycle bat ride from hell is spat out onto the dozen or so lanes of sheer automotive apoplexy that is Sukhumvit Road. When it dawns on your driver that despite his brain cells reeking of yaba smoke you are certifiably more insane than he is you’ll earn his respect. And with his pride dealt a bloody blow he’ll actually start driving like a normal Thai. Which is still a scary white-knuckle ride but at least you’ll live to claim your bragging rights for having taken a ride in a tuk tuk in Bangkok.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
I’ve yet to manage to grab a shot of a tuk tuk, monks, and an elephant all at once. Until I do, this one will have to suffice for a photo of (almost) everything iconic to Bangkok. Spotting monks in a tuk tuk is not that unusual in the Kingdom. It perfectly evidences the Buddhist belief about fate. And what Thais hold sacred.
Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
I’ve visited Bangkok’s Wat Intharawihan several times. I just never knew its name. The locals who were responsible for my visits called it Big Buddha. That went along with Lucky Buddha. And Special One Day Only Government Authorized Gem Sale. Wat Intharawihan is a cool little wat, and its ‘big Buddha’ alone should be enough to entice a few touri to check the temple out. But most visit are thanks to being enticed by a 50 baht tuk tuk ride when the Grand Palace is closed.
I have several pictures of the wat in my collection, but could never manage to post an article about it because of its missing name. But then while recently doing an internet search on Bangkok scams I managed to finally identify the temple. I’d recognize those Buddha toes. An updated article on scams is still to come, though it may be different than what you’ll expect (or not). I will mention now however that there is a new twist on the Grand Palace Is Closed Scam. It’s now the Central World Is Closed Scam. I don’t know if the recent move by authorities to install loudspeakers around the Grand Palace that announce it is open is the reason scammers have moved their trick to one of Bangkok’s most famous shopping malls, or that they finally figured out there are more touri headed for a day of shopping than a day of palace viewing. But reports are that when you are in the area of Central World you are now likely to be approached by a helpful local who will tell you the mall is closed because of a Buddha holiday. Same, same, but different. I’ll have to check it out on my next visit to see which wats in that area the scammers are including on their tour.
If you haven’t visited Wat Intharawihan, I’m sure you can still indulge in scamming a scammer by the Grand Palace and getting a ride to the temple for 50 baht. I’m also sure you could find a tuk tuk or taxi to take you there without the scam, but that takes half of the fun out of the visit. And visit you should. The Big Buddha is worth the price of admission. Which is free unless you agree to buy some pricey jewelry as part of your outing.
Located near the Rama VIII bridge, the temple predates the founding of Bangkok in 1782 and was originally named Wat Rai Phrik. The temple saw its first restoration during the reign of Rama I at the hands of a member of the Lao royal family who Rama I brought to settle in the area after battling a rebellion in Laos. A very revered monk, Somdej Phra Buddhachan, at the age of 80, began construction on the giant Buddha statue in 1867, only to die at its feet one night before the statue had been completed to navel height. The statue, in Wednesday morning’s Receiving position (Phra Um Bhat) was finally completed during the reign of Rama VII in 1927 and today stands some 32 meters in height, towering over the surrounding neighborhood. Each year a temple fair is held in early March to celebrate, honor, and pay homage to the Big Buddha.
The statue, called Luang Pho To, was visited twice during the 1960s by the current royal family who covered its forehead and topknot with gold leaf. Then, in 1978, on behalf of his father, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn visited the temple to install relics of The Buddha in Luang Pho To’s topknot, which were a gift from the government of Sri Lanka. The statue received its final treatment during the 200th year celebration of Bangkok when it was decorated with Italian golden mosaics.
The wat is popular with locals for grabbing bottles of the Buddhist version of holy water as well as the amulets for sale at the temple that bear the likeness of some of the more revered monks who have served as abbot there. Likenesses of the monks, some of which are quite life-like while others are covered in masses of gold leaf are scattered around the temple’s grounds. The big draw, of course, for locals and tourists alike is the Big Buddha; locals believe praying to Luang Pho To can bring wealth and success, particularly if they present the head of a mackerel fish, a boiled egg, and a lei of flowers. Rumor also has it that delivering a tuk tuk full of touri to the wat can bring riches too.
Most touri visiting the wat are on a limited time schedule and only have the opportunity of grabbing a few quick photos of the temple’s famous statue and possibly paying a local vendor to free caged birds, a merit making activity frowned upon at many wats these days. If you don’t have a gem sale to rush off to, the wat’s ubosot is worth visiting too. Though quite small its walls are adorned with a series of interesting murals and its window shutters are lavishly gilded. There is also a museum attached with old Buddha images, paintings, porcelain, and antiques, as well as an area filled with cremation urns and, in case you still haven’t had the opportunity to say a prayer at the Buddha image for your birth day, a line of all eight of the birth day Buddha images.
Wat Intharawihan is open daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Related Posts You Might Enjoy: