Scams, locals…. and Island perfection (Thailand)
Before I visit any country I like to read about the sights I will see, the people, cultures, religions and some travel blogs. With all this info I get a picture in my head about to expect when entering a unknown environment.
On this trip all the destinations (Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia) exceeded my expectations and met some great people along the way (from locals to other travelers).
This being said, I also had some positive and negative thoughts about what I heard about Thailand. Thailand is an absolute beautiful country with over 21millions visitors per year and is still increasing tremendously!
It is sad to say that it only get nice when you are finally booked into a hotel, hostel or resort, where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the true beauty of Thailand! When you hit the streets its almost certain that you will be tried to get ripped of and scammed along the way… and this happens so often that it actually getting to a point where you get so pissed off with the locals!
What I think they don’t understand is that tourism is booming in their country and will actually make more money running a honest and friendly business!!
1 – Just as expected we were scammed on our way to Koh Tao! The crazy thing is that all these corrupted businesses are linked and are very good in scamming you with a few hundred baht at a time! You can do whatever you want, but before you know it you are in the middle of a scam and can’t get out of it.
Booking my trip from Penang ( Malaysia ) to Koh Tao ( Thailand ) through one of the agencies at the bus station in Penang. The trip included mini buses from Penang – Hat Yai – Surat Thani and then a night ferry at 23:00 to Kho Tao. Being dropped of at various destinations where you need to get on other busses you get use to changing between them, until they drop you off and no bus arrives (in the middle of an unknown city)!!
2 – when booking a ferry, do it at the port! The agency will (like us) say that you are buying a Speedboat ticket… And when it arrives it is a slowboat!! 200 baht difference! By that time they are far away and cant be reached or suddenly don’t understand english when calling them.
3 – After my first two scams, I was ready for the next one!! I rented a motorcycle for two days on Koh Tao. I read before I came to Thailand that you need to closely check your motorcycle for ANY scratches before driving off. I made the guy get a paper, wrote down all the damage and both of us signed!
After two days I returned the motorcycle. First there came a lady and checked the bike… and then calling her husband to check it again… and there it came… i knew it!! “3 scratches, 3000 baht!!”. I laughed him off and went behind his desk and sat down!! I insisted to see the paper we signed!! The guy started talking in a louder voice and after a few minutes walked off. After a while he returned with the paper. I got up from behind his desk and we checked the motorcycle together… Again! “ooooooo…. ahhhhh…. Yea…… i see now”. So after a long struggle and lots of words, I got my Deposit back and walked off.
The sad thing is that I was planning to rent it for two more days, but decided on the spot that I will rather walk 5km back to my resort!!
4 – Woke up this morning at 4am with a knock on the door (im staying in a dorm room). First I just ignored this… But after 5minutes I was starting to wonder whats going on. I stood up and saw one of the guys in the dorm lying on the floor, looking underneath the door trying to figure out who was at the door. I waited a few minutes but the knocking continued. I stood up, climbed over the guy that was still peeking underneath the door and opened the door. The guy tried to stop me but I already opened the door…
There was a guy… Faking being drunk and asked us to come and help his friend that was passed out. When I asked him where he was he was just pointing in a direction and said… Over there and then trying to enter the room. I pushed him out, told him to take a hike and closed the door!
The Englishman in the dorm told me that this guy was bothering them the whole night and tried taking him and his girlfriend to a party somewhere in the island.
Until now I’m still wondering what this guy was trying to do.
Some advise to other travelers:
– if you book a bus, train or ferry… Go straight to the big companies and book direct tickets to your destination. When you need to catch a different type transportation, wait until you get there and go to the big companies again!
– If you stay at a good and reputable hotel or resort, ask them where to go to buy tickets
– when renting a scooter on your trip… Rent it directly from your reputable hotel or resort. Check the bike and sign some papers!
– when catching a taxi without billing meters… Ask price and divide it by two! Just say no its to much and walk off. They will stop you and renegotiate the price… If not just get another one! They are everywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you he is the only one or fall for ‘he has the best prices’. Just smile and walk off!
– Read up on accommodation and read comments / reviews!
– and most of all… Trust your instincts!! If its to good to be true, it probably is!!
Look out and stand your ground when needed… In the end you will enjoy what you actually came for…. Seeing beautiful places, chill, meeting other great people and yea, weird drinks…. and great food!!