The thug-menace is bad in Bangkok. We encountered them twice, and narrowly escaped on both the occasions.
Thugs @Siam Square in Bangkok: Our hotel was Hansar at Rajdamri Road and we had taken the Skytrain upto the BTS station. Once out of the station, as we strolled the sidewalks checking out the wares, a middle-aged man, seemingly in huge hurry approached Jayant. He anxiously asked Jayant what currency he was carrying (as though in huge distress for carrying wrong currency). Jayant, good-natured that he is, didn’t suspect anything and said Baht. The man wanted to see a note. Jayant, still unsuspecting, opened his wallet, took out a note and showed it to him. Now the man looked as though he was in greater distress. He came closer towards Jayant and almost took the wallet saying that he wanted a closer look. Alarmed, I told Jayant to be careful. By now, Jayant too, had come out of his initial shock, clutched his wallet tight and put it back in his pocket saying he wasn’t comfortable having a stranger peek into it. We walked away. It was a busy street with people milling all around. Despite that, the incident shocked us nuts and we just wanted to get away from Siam Square. But not before I put Jayant’s wallet in my purse and clutched it tight for the rest of the evening.
Thugs @Grand Palace in Bangkok: We reached the gates of the Grand Palace in a cab that our hotel had hailed for us. Hence, no tension. But no sooner did we get down from the taxi, a fully in uniform Palace guard came up to us and told us that it was the time for the prayers and only the Thai nationals would be allowed inside the Palace. Upon enquiry, he said that the gates would open to tourist only after 10 am. Oh, one hour more? we asked. He nodded and suggested we take a tuk-tuk and go to a nearby temple. By the time we came back touring the temple, the Palace would have opened, he reasoned. And hooted, and almost immediately, a tuk-tuk pulled over. The ‘guard’ ushered us in the tuk-tuk and promised that the temple is just 10 minutes away. The driver took us to a small temple about 35 minutes away. By now we were sure that we had fallen prey to yet another thug. We refused to get down from the tuk-tuk, and asked the guy to take us back to the Grand Palace. When he found that we wouldn’t budge, he gave in and took us back. The guard was nowhere to be seen. We walked through the gates and saw that there was absolutely no restrictions due to prayer timings and that entry is allowed at all time!!
Thankfully, in both these occasions, we gathered our wits and managed to get out of the situation without any harm or loss. If you are planning a trip to Bangkok, please please be careful of the Thugs there.