Sunday, June 09, 2013

Travelogue: Wat next?

The three of us were tired when we stepped out of Wat Pho; next stop was Wat Arun. It wasn’t far away – we could see the structure but it was across the water. While we headed towards the taxi boats, we saw a group of people crowd around a showman; he was a local guy with a fat and long python around his neck. In broken English he asked people to take snaps. Some people took snaps of him with the python while one Westerner stretched his hand to hold the python. Seeing the Western man, the local guy immediately placed the python across the Western guy’s shoulders; the python stretched from the left to right of his outstretched hands. After his wife and many of the onlookers took plenty of snaps of him, the guy passed the python to the local guy, casually turned around and started walking away with his wife.

The local guy was stunned by this act; he shouted, “500 Baht,” and confronted the Western guy.

“500 Baht.”
“No. I don’t know.”
“You pay.”

Voices rose as the tempers rose under the hot sun. I wondered if a fight would ensue; in a 1 on 1 duel, the Western guy would surely have over-powered him – he was huge compared to the local. But then there were a couple of other locals very close to the snake guy; and there was also the snake to handle!

“I’m not paying 500,” the guy shouted back and then added, “Too much.”
“No,” and he gave pulled out a 100 Baht note and placed it in the local guy’s hand. “That’s all,” he said and walked away.

The local guy pocketed the money and turned his attention to the crowd in the hope of attracting another customer.

Thailand is very strict when it comes tourist related incidents; I had read that if there is a conflict between a local person and a tourist, then the police tend to favour the tourist. So if a fight had broken out, the snake guy might have had more to lose. And to be fair, he never told the cost before placing the snake.

The boat ride is very cheap; we ran across a platform built on top of wooden boards where there were many small shops. At the end, before the pier, was a small counter where a lady was collecting money for the taxi boat. The boat is medium sized; it was an enjoyable ride across – takes 5 minutes and they drop you near Wat Arun; in fact each of these boats goes only between 2 points across the lengthy water body that divides Bangkok.

No comments: