"Hello, I take you anywhere, many temple, jus' twenny baht!" So begins one of the oldest scams in Bangkok's voluminous book; I still fell for it. What the driver really wants is a petrol token, which will be given to him by someone at the tailors' or jewellers' shop he will inevitably bring you to after a short tour of the neighbourhood's least spectacular wats.
Outside most of Bangkok's main attractions.
On our way to the grand palace, we got stopped twice by Thais telling us that it was closed. Do not believe them, this is just a scam to get you to go somewhere in a tuk-tuk. The grand palace only closes once or twice a year.
These are listed on the US Embassy's website as bars/clubs where tourists are often presented with ridiculously expensive bills (100 dollars for a ½ litre of beer), and physically intimidated if they refuse to pay:
- Városközpont (accessible by outside elevator) Budapest V district, Váci utca 16
- La Dolce Vita Budapest V district, Október 6. utca 8
- Nirvana Night Club Budapest V district, Szent István krt.13
- Ti'Amo Bar Budapest IX district, Ferenc körút 19-21
- Diamond Club Budapest II district, Bimbó út 3
- Pigalle Night Club Budapest VIII district, Kiss József utca 1-3
Always remember that Thais do not normally approach strangers and engage them in conversation. So watch out for people who approach you with something along the lines of: "I am a policemen, it's my day off, what are you looking for?"This always leads to shopping advice and before you know it, you're in a tuk-tuk, heading for a jewellery store. The scamsters hang around the Skytrain terminal in Siam Square and pick out first timers as they read the signs and look for the exit.Another scam involves con-artists convincing tourists that the grand palace is closed and and then attempting to take them on a "shopping" trip.
Only take a taxi if you're really desperate. If they get the slightest hint that you're a tourist, they'll take you the very long way round. From the airport take the fast, regular and cheap train and in the centre take the tram, metro or bus.
In my experience, Bangkok is a much more enjoyable place to return to than to arrive in.
It can be a bit of a shock to the system when you arrive fresh off the plane, for this reason I would recommend getting out of there quickly but giving yourself lots of time to explore it properly when you inevitably have to return.
After spending time in Thailand you will find Bangkok makes a lot more sense and becomes somewhere that you really want to explore.
Everyone you know who has been to Prague will rave about the beauty of the place. This is indeed correct, architecturally. What no-one will tell you is that you can expect to be treated with downright contempt by about 80 per cent of waiters and shop assistants. Maybe it's a (perfectly reasonable) reaction to the influx of stag and hen parties, maybe it's the default setting of the Czech people, but it certainly ain't nice, however much you try not to take it personally.
Vietnamese drivers gleefully ignore traffic signals, so crossing the road can be a coronary-inducing experience. If you walk calmly and slowly across the road, you should be OK. Better still, wait for a Vietnamese person to cross and follow them, using them as a shield between you and the traffic!
Don't let fear of getting ripped off stop you taking a taxi. Just be prepared to insist they use the meter, rather than giving you a flat-rate quote. Some drivers may refuse, if so, just try another. At least you get air-con when the traffic's bad.
Incidentally, the taxi drivers with Buddhist texts written on their cabs’ ceilings, seem to be more amiable - just an observation.
Perth is the world's most isolated city (i.e. it's further away from any other city than well, any other city on the planet) and this (for some) unfortunately fosters some of the western world's most 'isolationist' thinking.
Sadly, the most bigoted major city in Australia, it's often the first choice for English and Scots of a 'particularly narrow mindset' if you know what I mean, who are looking for somewhere to retire. Perth folk (yes, sure there are ALWAYS exceptions) often don't seem to like ANYONE, but they seem to have a particular problem with Aborigines and Asians (not the Indians, Pakistanis etc. that Brits incorrectly call Asians, but the Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. - whom Brits often offensively refer to as Orientals).
Perth is not the city with the 'pioneer spirit' that most Brits seem to imagine. It's not the last great frontier, it's actually Australia's most conservative (culturally and politically) city whilst also being the home-town of our most notorious white-collar criminals!
I recommend stearing well clear of Perth but if you simply HAVE to visit Western Australia, then go to Fremantle, Margaret River, Busselton etc. instead. Then kick yourself repeatedly while booking a flight to Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne, cities where you'll find the REAL Australia.
If you're going to visit make sure you bring warm clothes. It's in California but it gets very cold there, particularly in the evening when the fog rolls through the Golden Gate bridge. This is especially true in the summer when fog covers the city most of the time.
I am British but live in Budapest, and recommend great care with taxi rip-offs. Even meters are often doctored so you can't rely on them. City Taxis (see other tips in this section) are fine, and used by many embassies – they have English speaking phone operators.
Tel: 2-111 111
... by not deciding to tow your caravan during the rush hour. Over a million of us live and work here, even though to you it's just a holiday destination - and caravans are a BIG problem every Friday during the summer.
One thing most visitors fail to note before stepping into the Australian sunshine is, how hard it bites.
Please, please do yourselves a grand favour and slap on sunscreen. The sun is far stronger than it is in Europe - I know, I lived in the UK for 6 years and lay on a few European beaches amazed that I turned brown, not bright red in minutes.
So, don't be decieved into thinking you'll be okay. Getting sunburnt in Oz is not fun and it does not take long.
Enjoy my lovely city, drink lots of great coffee at the many local cafes [avoiding the few Starbucks that are struggling to convince us we need their muck] and remember, its just a GAME!!
-Journal 253 Flinders Lane
-Pellegrini's 66 Bourke Street
Beware the fierce undertow and crashing surf that can sneak up on you on Copacabana and Ipanema (not to mention beaches farther afield). You really have to watch your footing and pay attention to the lifeguard's flags that indicate when it's safe to go for a dip, or you'll find yourself battling for your life thanks to the steep dropoff and strong rip tides!
Precious water resources are being squandered, and new housing estates are being built around new courses, sometimes illegally, to the detriment of English buyers, like in my village, Otura, south of Granada.
New golf courses are planned in Andalucia, whilst my farming neighbours do not have enough water to irrigate.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org