Tuk Tuk: “Where Are You Going?”

From SU Hong Kong student, Joshua Books’ blog.

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This morning I got back from a four day vacation/tourist visit to Bangkok, Thailand. I traveled with four of my friends and we all stayed in a double suite at the Prince Palace Hotel. Although descriptions and looks on the internet can be deceiving, this resort did not disappoint. Equipped with three lodging towers, two pools, two restaurants, and a panoramic view of the city, I could not have asked for a better location to reside at. They had a pool-side restaurant that provided a relaxed atmosphere, this was our safe haven for western food. After chowing down on my first ever lamb burger,  which was delicious in flavor I must say, we left the hotel to explore streets surrounding Prince Palace.

As soon as we took a step outside of the hotel we were greeted with a bell-captain asking us the question, “Where are you going?” At first we brushed him off, assuming he was trying to earn the hotel some extra money by providing their services. Throughout the trip we realized this was a common gesture, as the locals were not only interested in our plans, but willing to help us with transportation to our destination. We finally made our way down the lobby steps, approached again by another hawker. This man asked us if we wanted a tuk-tuk, a three-wheel motor bike that could hold three passengers not including the driver. My research before our arrival led me to the conclusion that these were a great way to view the city, but were somewhat dangerous.

We bypassed the hawker and explored the crowded, disorganized, and unique streets of Bangkok. Right across the street from our hotel was a row of various clothing stands. These shops had a ridiculous amount of inventory, most of which was stacked up in twelve foot high plastic bags. We turned the corner, crossed a bridge, and found ourselves in a market area. The first thing I realized was the abundance of pineapples, locals had huge straw baskets of the fruit. The next thing that caught my eye was the amount of stray cats and dogs. I’m not sure where they came from but throughout the trip this was a common site. It is very interesting to compare cultures between China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United States. They differ in every aspect – values, norms, customs, etiquette, attitude, and even traffic regulations. Thai locals were extremely friendly, I attribute that to the fact that we are white attractive young males.

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