Bangkok Temples and the Buddha Day Scam
If you only have one day in Bangkok, then an exploration of all the temples is a must. Due to our shortened stay in the massive city, Chris and I decided to bang them out in one go. Our hotel (Lamphu Tree Boutique Hotel) was only a 20 minute walk from The Grand Palace and so we decided to make the trek on foot. The Bangkok heat is something else. It's humid and sticks to your skin like a wet towel. It's rude not to cover your shoulders and legs when entering any temple in Thailand and so I was having an especially hard time not feeling as if I was drowning in a pool of my own sweat.
We made our way down Kao San Road, which wasn't as chaotic as I expected and was mostly filled with tourists and crammed market vendors selling T-shirts, elephant pants, purses and the like. Struggling with four hours of sleep, we eventually ended up across the road from The Grand Palace. Chris stopped to ask a man who was helping a blonde woman with directions a few seconds earlier. "How do we cross this road?" he asked, waving to the four lanes of crazy, swerving traffic.
The man's face lit up, "you're exploring temples today?" he responded. "It's your lucky day!" He paused for effect, "today is Buddha day so all temples are free today, because the government wants tourists to see Thai culture."
Chris and I felt lucky indeed. The one day we were exploring temples and they happened to be free? The man continued, "and today only, Tuk-Tuk's are government sponsored so they will take you around to all the temples and wait for you for only 40 Baht! (less than $2). Now for those experienced travels, don't give me too much shit, this guy seemed extremely reasonable. He waived us around to a Tuk-Tuk waiting around the corner and told him to take us around for 40 baht.
Before you all fear for my life, Chris and I had a perfectly amazing day in Bangkok. We got to tour around and see a bunch of beautiful temples, our Tuk-Tuk driver was a really friendly guy, and we did it all for 100 Baht (I gave him extra because he was so nice and waited for us everywhere). It wasn't until we were home and I told my mom about our adventure (which she immediately Googled) that we found it was a scam of sorts. Half way through the tour our driver had asked if we would mind going into a government-sponsored silk shop for 5 minutes to pretend to browse, as he said the government would give him a gas card for doing so. We were totally find with it, even though Chris and I were not about to buy a tailor-made suit of any kind, but I guess that was the scam.
We found out later that it is a pretty typical occurrence that Tuk-Tuk drivers will take their customers to tailor shops because it's "Buddha Day" when in reality they get a kick-back for taking people to these shops. Either way, Chris and I don't feel very swindled as we had an awesome time touring around Bangkok and even in the tailor shop we didn't feel pressured to purchase anything. I have a feeling that our Tuk-Tuk driver was bad at the scam.
However, upon further research we found out that we were very lucky, as some Tuk-Tuk drivers will drive their customers to sketchy tailor shops way out of the way that will lock their customers inside until they buy something. Yikes! I guess we really did luck out, so for all you reading this AVOID TUK-TUK's and IT'S NOT BUDDHA DAY.
Anyway, now that we got that out of the way--let's take a look at the temples we did see on our misguided adventure.
Wat Intharawihan (Standing Buddha)
"The Lucky Buddha"
There's actually no such thing as a lucky Buddha, as they're all lucky.
Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple)
Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
Our scam artist dropped us off at Wat Pho, but by then we were too exhausted to continue and the pool was calling my name.