Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bangkok: The 5 rule guide for hiring a tuk-tuk in Bangkok

Two blondes riding around Bangkok in a tuk-tuk, Thailands most exhilarating form of transportation.

 Long before there were taxis, scooters, buses, or trains, good old fashioned tuk-tuks ruled the streets of Bangkok. They are still the most exhilarating way to get around in Bangkok today and are a must on your to-do list while traveling or living in Thailand. With my camera in my right hand and my left hand gripped onto the safety strap dangling above, there was a giant grin across my face as my vehicle made its way from a hotel near Khaosan Road over to Chatuchak Weekend Market.  Prior to hopping in any old tuk-tuk there are a few guidelines you should follow to make your journey more memorable.

1. Go for the experience: When you take a tuk-tuk, make sure to relax and enjoy the scenery as you speed around with an up close view of many of Bangkok's famous sites. Riding in a tuk-tuk also gives you a good picture of how locals are living their every day life.

2. Be direct: Tell the tuk-tuk driver exactly where you want to go and how much you are willing to pay before hopping inside. A short trip of 5 minutes should cost you 30 baht which is about $1. Be weary of the high prices that all drivers will try and charge you in tourist areas. Always negotiate for a lower price. If you're really assertive you might go for 50% off the original price, but recommends getting at least 5-20 baht off the original fare price. Remember, every tuk-tuk will charge you an inflated price and don't get sucked into going to one of their commissioned jewelry stores.

3. Take a short trip: A 20 minute trip will cost you more money in a tuk-tuk than in a metered taxi; sometimes the prices are double. If you decide to take a taxi request the meter for longer trips of 15 minutes or more. Tuk-tuk's are no longer cheaper than metered taxis because of their popularity among tourist and the drivers ability to charge higher prices.

4. Avoid peak hours: Avoid rush hour in a tuk-tuk because of the fumes you will directly inhale from the nearby rickshaws and vehicles. If you have asthma or any other kind of respiratory problems sitting behind clouds of black smoke during traffic might not be the most enjoyable way to enjoy your day.

5. Have fun with the drivers: If you have a good sense of humor with the drivers they will send laughter right back in your direction. When you're bargaining prices try exaggerating things to them and say something like  "100 baht!!??? You're going to make me broke! You make me so sad How about 60 Baht?!" Most drivers appreciate a fun personality and are more willing to lower their prices if they like you. Also take some time to get to know their personal story like information about their friends or family. They are pretty easy to talk to, and many of the drivers like to practice their English skills.

Our tuk-tuk was very friendly and chatted with us about life in Bangkok.

If you have any questions or comments about "Bangkok: The 5 rule guide for hiring a tuk-tuk in Bangkok" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to 
  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Australia: Kangaroo and Koala photos lost forever

Photo courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald. But mine were better!
  Snapping photos all day long with kangaroos and koalas can really make you tired. After a great dinner and long day walking around the animal park here in Perth, Australia I absentmindedly left my camera sitting on the restaurant table alongside a pile of empty plates, platters, and beer samples. Wanting to review all of our amazing photos I dug through my canvas bag for my camera only to remember I left it sitting on the restaurant table. We made a call and luckily they had found my orange memory taker and attached a paper with my name and number to it before putting it in their lost and found box. Because we weren't very close to Fremantle and it was getting late, my friend let them know we would be picking it up the following day. So the next when my friend got off work he drove me over to pick up the camera however we were told that it wasn't there anymore. After a very unconvincing conversation with the manager I left feeling angry and upset that the staff had been so dumb as to put my camera somewhere where it might be stolen by one of their own staff members. I was told that maybe the manager had put it in a secret location, but that they couldn't get a hold of her. The next morning the manager on duty finally stated that one of their staff members had stolen the camera and that he felt embarrassed and terrible about the whole situation. My camera was gone. All of my lovely kangaroo, dingo, koala,wallaby, and goat photos were lost forever. And someone working for their restaurant had taken it.
     The restaurant decided to take $500 from each staff members tips and to hold a staff meeting that day encouraging the thief to return the camera to a secret location. The next morning I took a boat ride in the river from Perth to Fremantle only to be told that no one had returned the camera. The restaurant agreed to pay me $520 cash so that I could go buy a new camera and memory chip before leaving Australia and continuing my travels. They also agreed to ship my camera back to me if it was ever returned.
     It's unfortunate that I lost all of my precious memories at the animal park in Australia, but it was definitely a lesson learned. When you start traveling and spending long days walking around and get little sleep the nights before you can easily leave something behind. From this day on my camera will be attached to my body with the dorky neck camera strap. I was able to purchase the same camera from a store here in Perth. And then when I got home I was wiping off the lens and my anal eyes noticed a speck of dust trapped inside the lens of the camera. I went back to the camera store the next morning and showed them the small piece of dust. However, I really didn't want to exchange the camera for a new one because they didn't have anymore orange ones. The entire point of having this camera is so that I can take it in the water with me and the bright orange casing is great in the water. All of the photos appeared to be perfectly normal and there was clearly no problem with the camera. I am just such a perfectionist that I can see the tiny piece of dust and it drives me crazy!  The men at the store said it really was ok because the camera can't focus enough to ever catch the piece of dust in a photo. I walked around downtown Perth the rest of the morning taking photos and testing everything out to make sure there were no further problems.
    Finally, I settled and went home with my brand new camera, perfectly new but with a tiny piece of dust in the lens. At least I have a new camera  and didn't have to pay for a new one. I need to learn to not be such a perfectionist with everything in my life. And maybe this camera is the start of that!  So for those of you traveling, remember that when you are tired you are more likely to lose something. So triple check that you have all of your belongings before getting up from a restaurant, bus, plane, or wherever you were hanging out at.

Happy travels!

If you have any questions or comments about "Australia: Kangaroo and Koala photos lost forever" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to 
  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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Creative Commons License
Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at
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