I Bleeping HATE Bangkok

Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 03:35 AM
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I Bleeping HATE Bangkok

Who the hell can love a city where at every turn people are trying to rip you off. It's like a city of con artist devoid of any morals. Can I just get in the cab, have the driver turn the damn meter on like he is supposed to do. Why do I have to be told B500 for a ride that actually cost B69 when I finally find a cabbie with a sense of decency.

Ok to be honest, outside of these disgusting excuses for humans called Tuk Tuk and Taxi drivers I love the Thai people. When I'm not trying to fight the scammers off me I'm actually having a good time and eating well.

Here is an example. I'm not going into full detail but my little brother and sister went out for the day, encountered a Tuk Tuk Driver who took them to what they thought was Somboom Seafood Restaurant and came back $400 (US) poorer. So the crazy NYorker in me went right back to the restaurant with the cops and stood at the gates and warned off all the innocent tourist on their way to being ripped off. The owners got so pissed they came running out screaming waving wood pieces but we stood our ground. I know that as I write this post that some other innocent tourist is being ripped off but I'm glad I did my part to save a few people.

I'm sure it did not help that we are African American as we were stared at like we had four heads almost everywhere we went. Entire group of patrons in restaurants would turn their heads in mass as we walked through the doors. We had tourist stamped on our foreheads because of our color and that made it even more difficult to get a straight answer from anyone. I have traveled all over the world and I have to say that BKK was extreme, even Eastern Europe was better.

Bangkok is a great city that I think everyone should at least visit once, as their is a very unique way of living here that I find interesting and it's what fuels my obsession with travel...exploring all corners of the world to see how other people go about their daily lives, but it is exhausting and emotionally draining if you are just looking for a few days of peace and exploration.

I'm glad I came to Bangkok, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have spent my two weeks in Siem Reap instead of coming here. I absolutely LOVED Cambodia. I leave for Bali on Tuesday for 5 days and I'm hoping my experience there will be closer to the bliss I had in Siem Reap instead of Bangkok.
tennisbum is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:21 AM
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So....what happened at Somboon Seafood? Was it really Somboon Seafood? When did you realize you were at a "fake" Somboon? Please tell all!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:39 AM
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We love Bangkok. Yes, the taxi and tuk tuk drivers as well as the touts try their hardest to fleece tourists, but as you said, almost everyone else is unbelievably kind. The energy of the city is addictive.

I would also like to hear the details of the Somboon story. The image of irate farangs warning others is fascinating.
Gpanda is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:45 AM
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Oh dear....$400 for exactly what?
I love Bangkok.......in small doses, and you do need to be 'on the ball', if you are not to be ripped off, but if it was your first visit, I can see how this could happen.
Please don't judge it on this experience. Bangkok is a unique city.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 04:55 AM
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Sorry to hear about your troubles but I would like to hear more detail of what happened.

1/. What was the name of the restaurant that your brother ended up at? You must know since you return there with the police.

2/. Did you file a complaint with the police? What police station, or precint, was it?

3/. What did your brother ordered that was worth $400 for 2 people? Was the menu in Thai and did it have prices on it?

Hanuman is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 05:13 AM
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"Here is an example. I'm not going into full detail but my little brother and sister went out for the day, encountered a Tuk Tuk Driver who took them to what they thought was Somboom Seafood Restaurant and came back $400 (US) poorer."

So, I take it that your brother and sister had someone in the restaurant hold a gun or some other threatening instrument to their heads and forcibly separated $400 from their wallets?? Is that right?

Or, did they stupidly not ask about the price of a meal, or did they order willy nilly without any care for the final price?

Are your brother and sister mentally challenged in some way? Otherwise I see that if no one stole their money by force they just made stupidly bad decisions!

Tuk-tuk drivers. Just read a post from this forum, or the TripAdvisor, Thai Visa, Virtual Tourist Forums, etc. and they will tell you to take a meter taxi and only pay the meter fare!

Meter taxi. When you wave a moving taxi over (avoid parked taxi cabs they will want to bargain, especially near bus stations and expensive hotels) tell the driver - BEFORE YOU HOP IN - meter only! If he wants to bargain - say NO thanks and get another one of the thousands of taxi cabs prowling the streets!

Ripped off by a taxi? I guess you never used a taxi in New York City! When you are unfamiliar with the city the NEW YORK TAXI CABS rip off the tourists too! Guess we should all cross NYC off our "must see" travel destination list!

I rarely have a "moving taxi" ever turn down a meter fare! Don't be lazy - go out to the curb and wave a moving taxi down!

Don't use tuk-tuks! Meter taxi rides are cheaper and air conditioned! If any tuk-tuk driver offers you a deal - run a way! Just like a guy on the street in NYC with a TV that "accidentally fell off a truck" and he is selling it cheap! Yeah, open the box and it is just a picture tube or a TV that doesn't work!

When you routinely make stupid decisions you can screwed any where in the world - even in New York!

SirHalberd is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 06:22 AM
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I'm going to try and answer everyone's questions all at once. I brought my college age brother, sister and cousin with me to Bangkok. I was coming down with a cold but of course they wanted to go out so we made a plan of places for them to visit and I had the concierge map out a plan of action for them. Their first stop was the National Museum. Upon arriving there, they were told by some guy in a tour guide uniform that it was closed because of the Buddhist holiday...we all now the story of the scam...they were taken on a tour of some irrelevant Buddhas and then to a jewelry store and then asked if they wanted to go Somboon Seafood restaurant. The driver took them to a restaurant and they order lunch from a menu that had B300 or lower per item. At the end of the meal their bill was over B12,000 and when they asked why they were told that it was B300 per gram and not per dish. At the end of the day, they were foolish and naive but it in no way excuses what these people do.

When I went back to the place today, I knew right away that it was bullshit. The name of the place was SOMBOOMDEE and it was in a crappy area of town and was not some place that I would ever set foot in. This fact further compounded how the kids could have been so dumb to fall for the scam. They just kept telling me how nice the Tuk Tuk driver was. I walked up to all the patrons currently in the restaurant and proceeded to tell them all they were being scammed and to get up and leave. During this time, a family of 7 was in a heated debate with the manager about why their bill was so high if the dishes were only B300 or less. So basically, they were having the same experience as the kids. We then went out to the entrance area and yelled at all of the Tuk Tuks/Taxis filled with unsuspecting victims that they were about to be scammed. One after one, they all got out and walked away. The Tuk Tuk and Taxi drivers were now enraged and a huge argument ensued between myself and the management, I told them I was going to call the cops and that is exactly what I did. At one point, the manager tried to come after us with a large piece plywood with nails. It was all very funny and a total NY moment. I know it realy did not mean anything but it just made me feel better. Like I said before, there are probably a few unsuspecting tourists about to have a meal right now that will give them the shock of their lives.

SirHalberd, I think you are being a little harsh. They did a stupid thing. One that I still can't believe as they are rather well traveled kids. I had so many questions for them but at the end of the day, they had honorably paid the bill and there was nothing to be said but "lesson learned". I would have just paid what I knew i owed and left but they were not that bold. I don't know if you have ever been to BKK but the number of people trying to rip you off is EXTREME. I live in NYC and we all know that there are taxi drivers who will try to rip the tourist off but the problem is not nearly as prolific as it is in BKK. Unfortunately, the Tuk Tuks and the Taxis are a small part of a greater problem in BKK. As for the taxi situation, today alone we flagged approximately 7 taxis down and they all tried to get a ridiculousy HIGH fare instead of using the meter. We finally gave up and found a Tuk Tuk who agreed to my price. Below are a few links to sites that discuss the BKK scams in detail.




tennisbum is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 06:50 AM
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I forgot to add that I actually have pics of the restaurant and the manager running after us. Can someone please tell me how to post pics. Thanks
tennisbum is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Indeed, it is easy to be "taken for a ride" in Bangkok. When we were there, we had to be careful, and ask for the fares befoprehand. One tuktuk driver wanted 200 BHT for a trip, but we found one that took us where we wanted to go for 70. Even getting out of the airport was a challenge not to get ripped off.

And we are white!!

Since you 'have traveled all over the world', you should know taxi ripoffs happen in many places. We had that experience in Prague and other cities.
Jed is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 08:00 AM
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I have found scam artists who prey on tourists in virtually every country that 1) has a large tourist population; 2) poverty. And that includes NYC, Rome etc. I'm pretty successful at avoiding it but that may be because I lived in Manhattan for 30 years and learned first hand how to avoid being a victim (even when not a tourist).
glorialf is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Is there a country that doesn't have 'poverty'? Do only 'poor' people scam?
Jed is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Well, one thing when you get "ripped off" in Bangkok for a taxi ride it is only for a few dollars! When you get ripped off in New York it is quite a bit more money!

Sorry your family members got ripped off. Maybe this is a good lesson for them to learn now!

In around 11 years in and out of SouthEastAsia I haven't found any reason to spend more than 300 baht on a single meal. (The 300 baht meal was in a U.S. style steak house near Patpong many years ago.) Most of the time the price I pay for meals is under 150 baht! But I am on a tight budget! I do love my buffets though (real cheap in Pattaya!) Foodland, Sukhumvit Soi 5, has a pretty good restaurant open 24 hours. If you spend 300 baht there it is because you bought 2 meals!

Good luck
SirHalberd is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 08:31 AM
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FYI - http://www.somboonseafood.com/index_en.html

Notice the warning at the bottome of the page.
Hanuman is offline  
Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 09:07 AM
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I'm sorry this happened to your family members.

I am always amazed when people don't read or don't heed routine warnings about well-known scams. For instance every Thai guidebook in existence as well as every travel message board warns about the scam at the Grand Palace/Emerald Buddha... and yet people continue to fall for it. When I was in Bangkok in November we were headed from the water taxi to the Reclining Buddha when a man approached us and said it was closed. I burst out laughing and he fled. Another man approached us and apologized for the man trying to scam us. "He makes the Thai people look bad."

I've gone to Bangkok almost every year for 20+ years. I've never had a taxi driver rip me off. I did have a taxi driver last trip who got lost and took us to the wrong hotel... the doorman give him directions to my hotel and we ended up paying about US$3 for a full hour of riding around in his taxi. A scam? No, just a lost taxi driver. I do insist that drivers turn on the meter. Only once have I gotten out of a taxi after getting in, and that was when a driver said he wanted to take me to a jewelry store. I don't take tuk-tuks. The worst taxi scam I've ever run into was in Washington DC.

So, no doubt your family members got hit up for a much more expensive scam than most people do... the price was almost as much as the tea ceremony scams in Beijing. An my ex got hit on a similar scam in Rome, I believe it was. It cost him $300-400 and it was a valuable lesson.

So, you're doing some useful things in the aftermath of the scam: you reported the place to the police, you warned people eating there and generally made a fuss, and you are posting on a oft-read travel board for others to learn from your family members experience.

I hope that your family members learn something useful from this awful experience: there are people who will take advantage of you all over the world if you let them; take your critical thinking with you when you are on vacation; read about your destination before going there.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 09:20 AM
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Jed-- there are probably more RICH scanners world wide than poor ones -- look at the predatory lenders, consumer scammers and EXON in the US as 3 examples. But I think the majority of the "petty" scams perpetrated on tourists in cities like Bangkok and NYC are done by people for whom an extra dollar actually makes a difference.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Trust me, the kids learned a valuable lesson. They feel foolish and we have lots of laughs over their "moment".

I'm not saying taxi scams are exclusive to BKK but it is so constant here that it is alarming. I feel like I'm being cheated at every turn. I don't even care about the extra Baht, at the end of the day it's a few bucks. I just went to the airport to pick up my other little cousin and both ways the taxi tried to rip me off and after the day I've had, I just wanted to scream. I'm a big tipper and I never follow local rules about tipping. I tip 20-30% regardless. What they don't realize is that by being dishonest they actually cheat themselves...as I'm less motivated to give them a tip.

To all you BKK lovers, happy travels!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 10:50 AM
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wow! taxi scammers... i thought only las vegas, nyc,and dc had them. it appears to be a universal phenomenon.

i hope at least the food was good at that somboon place.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 12:50 PM
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Taxi scammers are definitely not confined to las vegas, nyc,and dc! I think the worst I've encountered have been in Istanbul and India - never had a problem in Bangkok, I used to bargain with the tuk-tuks, now I just insist on taxis using the meter. Sorry about the bad experience, though.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 05:17 PM
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tennisbum-I am with you. My husband & I were in Thailand and Bali for 1 month in October. There is nothing to like about Bangkok. It is just a BIG city. Our timeshare was by the old airport-none of the taxi cab drivers could find it with a map. Thank God I had booked Tong for 2 days and she picked us up. The next week was in Bali and it is to die for. The people are friendly-we had 2 hour massages for 28$.The weather was perfect. Next we went to Pattaya for a week-Yuk-Luckily we got a boat to a Coral |Island and spent some times on a nice beach and water that wasn't brown. Our last 5 days were in Northern Thailand.Now this is it. The people are friendly-the traffic is not so hectic-Our tour guide Sgt. Kai was wonderful.I guess I am not a Big City person-
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Sorry to hear about your problem. I know Bangkok has many scams but I have never heard abou any restaurant charging $400 for a meal.

If the restaurant was in an unkown part of town how did you find it again.

Confronting the restaurant people and telling people to leave was very dangerous on your part. Never get a Thai angry or you might end up in the hospital. You were lucky.

What police did you call regular or the tourist police and what did they do. If it was the regular cops and you continued to yell at people you could have been arrested.

And why take Tuk Tuks. Everone who has done some research knows the scams they try on you. Were you not near a skytrain or subway station that you could use. As for taxis using their metre I have only had that problem on a couple of occasions and just got out and found another taxi.
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