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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

River Boat Rides in Bangkok

I love river boat rides. I really do. They make me feel happy, carefree even, like as though time stood still for me to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. :)
My last boat ride was in Kuantan. My friends from Finland came to visit and we went to Pulau Redang. On the way back, we stopped by Kuantan and Sungai Lembing. I didn't blog about this trip (maybe I should), but I did, the first time I was there in 2009.

So anyway, this time, I had the pleasure of sitting in one of these long-tailed boats in Bangkok. The feeling was AWESOME. I enjoyed every minute of it. There's a negative part in this ride though. Let me tell you about it. We got conned. :( 

Our bangkok trip was a free and easy one. I've heard so much about Bangkok but never been to that city before. A friend of mine, RW, wanted to go for a short holiday. Somewhere local, she said..I had other ideas and suggested to go to nearby countries such as Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia.We decided on Bangkok since the airfare was relatively cheap at that time of booking. It was cheap, but we had to be in Bangkok for six full days. 

Our flight to Bangkok was at 6.45am. Needless to say, we did not sleep the night before.  We arrived  LCCT at about 3am and somehow managed to stay awake until it was time to board. I have to admit, one of the downsides of the LCCT was there weren't any chairs to sit while waiting for the gates to be opened, so we had to sit on the floor. :( This was the first for me.
It was a 2-hour long journey to Bangkok and we managed to take a short nap in the plane.
We arrived Bangkok before 9am. After we collected our luggage, as we were heading for the taxi stand, we spotted a tour agency counter and promptly walked towards it. My initial thought was, YAY, we don't have to look for a tour agency when we reach the heart of the city. 

There were many things to do in Thailand -  Floating Markets, Grand Palace, Temples, River Kwai Tour, Khao Yai National Park, Ayutthaya Day Trip to name a few. We REALLY wanted to visit the Khao Yai National Park but had to let go of that because we didn't bring proper shoes. 

We opted for the River Kwai tour (1700 bahts per person) and a boat ride along the Chao Phraya river (300 bahts per person). The tour agent assured us that we would not get this price in the city. After we have paid 2000 bahts each, she gave us a slip of paper for our first tour and on that paper we noticed that she wrote something like, "boat fare not included". RW was curious and asked what did that mean. The tour agent explained that we had to pay for the boat fare when we get to the pier. I was confused and asked what  exactly was the 300 bahts for and she replied that it was for the tour guide. I guess you can say that we were shocked and angry at her explanation. She quickly added this, - "Everyone knows that you have to pay all these extras. You go to the palace, you have to pay entrance fees, you go to...." I tuned her out after that and after she has finished with her feeble explanation I asked her, "So, we paid for the tour guide. Can we just walk along the river with the tour guide?" My point being, we paid for this tour which should include the boat ride, after all, what is this particular tour without the ride? She was a bit taken back at my suggestion and insisted that we had to pay extra for the boat. Sigh. Resignedly we asked how much and were told that it cost 650 bahts for the boat. :(

There you go. 1250 bahts in total for the boat ride. :( 

Anyway, like I mentioned earlier, river boat rides relaxes me. :)

Our tour guide was pleasant. He pointed a few temples here and there but realized that we weren't interested in the temples at all. I think we were supposed to stop at one temple (promised by the tour agent at the airport) but the only stop we made was to feed the fish in the river. 

The boat ride took about 2 hours and after that the tour guide took us a gem factory and a silk shop.