Travel Tips - Cambodia - Thailand - Part 2 - AMAZING RACE CONTESTANTS RIPPED OFF IN THAILAND
With the Amazing Race video camera's rolling in their face Phuket's songthaew operators overcharged and cheated Amazing Race competitors in this week's leg 5 of the race - CAMBODIA'S FLOOD DELIMA 200 TOURISTS SAVED FROM ROOFTOPS
Friday October 28, 2011
THAILAND'S RUDE BEHAVIOR TO AMAZING RACERS
In an amazing display of ignorance, arrogance and stupidity Thailand received a black eye on their reputation in touting themselves as THE LAND OF SMILES. The question is what's behind those smiles? The answer is foreigner's money.
With the Amazing Race video camera's rolling in their face Phuket's songthaew operators overcharged and cheated Amazing Race competitors in this week's leg 5 of the race. The rip off occurred when racers had to make a trip by bus from Phuket to Bangkok after they had to departed from a jungle area outside of Phuket where they had a elephant riding task. The racers used a songthaew to travel to the Phuket bus station which is not a long way. A songthaew is similar to a small jitney which is used in the Philippines and larger than a samlor which is also used in Thailand.
Each team was given US $186 for this leg of the race which was to pay for their expenses in Phuket and Bangkok. Phuket nestles in balmy Andaman Sea waters on Thailand's Indian Ocean coastline 862 kilometres south of Bangkok. Traveling by VIP bus can ake roughly 14 hours. Other buses take longer as some of the Amazing Racers found out.
Upon arrival at the Phuket bus station two of the teams had money problems. In Former Olympic snowboarders Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin were the first to encounter the rip-off problem when their songthaew driver charged them $150. "That's what he asked for," said the Americans that believe in gods will. With their lack of bargaining skills and common sense they paid the thieving driver and were left with $16 for the remaining leg of the race.
Engaged couple Ernie and Cindy also experienced being ripped off as their songthaew driver charged them 4500 baht for their short distance ride. With the Thai baht exchange rate being 30 baht to US $1 that equates to $150.
While they were negotiating with the driver some unknown female individual decided to get involved in their negations and said that they were cheating the driver and she would call the police. This is typical of the hate of foreigners some Thai's have with their rationale that foreigners have money and can be taken advantage of. It is common practice for Thais to charge foreigners more for services or products. It is well known that Thai police enjoy extorting money from foreigners.
After the intruding Thai busybody female Ernie had words for the thieving driver, "I can't believe you did that to us. You're a terrible driver."
In Thailand they use their baht currency and refuse any other legal tender. Twin sisters Liz and Marie Canavan were without baht and wanted to pay with US dollars. The driver refused. The 24-year-old contestants were intimidated. The girls failed to change their Indonesian money from what they had remaining from the previous leg of the race into baht. They had a mixture of Indonesian and US money. They were the last team in the race and the last bus for Bangkok was departing while they were haggling. The driver insisted that they pay $40 more. The driver insisted that they pay $40 more. Finally the driver relented and took ALL OF THEIR MONEY over the $186 given to them for that leg of the race and left them with nothing. This is the WELCOME TO THAILAND rip off mentality that exists in the LAND OF SMILES and AMAZING THAILAND. The problem is that this situation often occurs throughout Thailand where tourists are viewed as suckers to be ripped off.
When the sisters arrived in Bangkok they had to get to their next task with NO MONEY. They started to walk until after asking found that where were a five hour walk from their destination. Realizing that they were in a do or die situation they told a taxi driver of they needed a ride but were without money. With the amazing Race cameras rolling he opted to show the good side of the nation and offered to drive them for free. They then had to go to another task being in the same situation of having no money but found another good guy Thai taxi driver who also offered to drive them for FREE.
The two Bangkok taxi driver's good deeds weren't enough to save the girls as they were eliminated from the race being the last to arrive at the pit stop for the second consecutive week.
What is disturbing about these events is the greedy, selfish attitude displayed by the drivers in Phuket. They made fools of themselves and their country. As the Thai promotional ads say... AMAZING THAILAND.
For those in the Southeast Asian region a repeat of the entire series marathon will air Monday November 7th throughout the afternoon on the AXN Network
Beware of the hustlers in Thailand. ALWAYS NEGOTIATE THE COST OF THE TRIP BEFORE YOU ENTER THE VEHICLE
One of the other Thailand hustles is a tuk-tuk driver seeing you walking an offering you a FREE ride and that they'll show you around. They then take you to tailors, jewelers and souvenir shops for shopping. Every time they bring someone to a shop the shop owner pays the driver 100 baht PLUS as percentage of the moneys derived of what one buys.
Touts standing on the street will often approach you and offer the same services FOR FREE. They make their money the same way on commission. The difference is you will pay for the transportation.
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY - AIRLIFT FROM ROOFTOP SAVES 200 CAMBODIAN TOURISTS
It's bizarre but a story that we intended to write regarding warning tourists not to travel to the Southeast Asian region during rain season is now brining our concerns to reality with the deaths and flooding throughout the area particularly in Thailand and Cambodia.
The idea came about when in April we were visiting a family in Siem Reap the home of the Angkor Wat Temples. The family owns several guest houses and their businesses have grown since we first reported on their venture over a decade ago. In April one of the families guest houses had no business. April is a buffer period of transition from the high to low season. We asked why they had no business and they were without an explanation but noted that they were fully booked in June and July.
That's the rain season we pointed out and their reply was we know but that's when the foreigners take their vacations. How true that statement is.
Earlier in the month 200 tourists in Siem Reap had to be airlifted from rooftops where they were sitting to avoid the flooding water that almost reached the level where the roof began.
If you plan to visit the area and the Angkor Wat Temples the best months to do that is December through March which is considered the high season. During this time it weather is cooler and the hotel rates and the food prices are higher. Given that for westerners this is the Christmas/boxing day and New Years celebration time that is the best time to visit Southeast Asia. Typhoons are a regular occurrence during rain season in the Philippines and Vietnam which cause major flooding.
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