Bangkok, City of Frowns?

Ronald McDonald Goes Thai
I’m happy to report, Ronald McDonald still gives a cheery “wai”

Why is it that almost universally, as you head south in a country, the vibe becomes more mellow, the people generally more friendly? At least that’s been my experience at home in the States, in India, across various European countries, in Vietnam, and now I’m desperately hoping, in Thailand.

I didn’t give Bangkok too huge of a chance, in all honesty. But the few days I spent there left me jarred by the sheer number of utterly unfriendly and unpleasant encounters with folks.

From servers at restaurants looking disgusted at having to take my order, to being shortchanged at the hotel without an apology, to having a friend get slapped by an employee for walking out the wrong exit door, to watching a guard at a temple hit a man with a water bottle for trying to carry his shoes around rather than leave them in the appointed shoe holders – there was nary a moment where I didn’t feel surrounded by absolute disdain.

As a former waitress and member of the service industry I can only imagine how god-awful and frustrating it must be to deal with a constant onslaught Western tourists – all too often a bunch of drunk guys in singlet shirts stumbling around Khoa San Road looking for a good “ping pong show”. No doubt I’d be disgusted dealing with that, too. But, as it stands, it still makes for a truly unpleasant travel experience.

Needless to say, I’ve gotten the heck outta dodge and down to the island Koh Samui for spell, then hopefully on to some lesser developed patches of sand. All I can say (with a total of 7 hours spent on the island thus far) is that in my first 20 minutes, my cab driver stopped randomly at a 7-11 to buy a water, and came back to the cab with a ice cold extra bottle for me. Sweetness.


  1. Wow that’s interesting. I found everyone in Thailand, and Bangkok, very friendly. It was a busy city, so people were rushing around more, but I had a totally different experience. I hope the rest of your time in Thailand is a bit happier, as it’s such a wonderful country and I’d hate for you to have a bad experience the whole time!

  2. Dude! I’m still stuck on the employee that slapped your friend! WHAT?! LOL. What did he/she do?
    Glad you got the heck out of there.

  3. Sounds like Koln, with the exception of the perves. Are you sure there wasn’t a belated Christmas festival happening while you were there?:)

  4. Slapped, hit with a water bottle?? I wonder if you were in the wrong part of town or if these people are just evil. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Keep out of Dodge, go South and hopefully you’ll find some sincere smiles….Love and hugs, Momala

  5. Dana Dalton says:

    We think this all stems back to that 1980s song One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head. The people of Bangkok still resent us for this one. Oy!

  6. Wow! I guess I can cross that off my list! And yes, you’ll have to spill the details about your friend getting slapped. Um, redunkulous! Safe travels boo!

  7. Tom Boutell says:

    Friend of mine really liked Chiang Mai.

  8. Valerie Conners says:

    I do always hear about how super friendly Thailand is, and I’m sure it will be better out of Bangkok. I know that most cities operate on a different scale (philly, nyc, etc) but this was just darn WEIRD. And it wasn’t only me – it was the people I met. I’ve also heard from various travelers who’ve been here many times that the country has become far more jaded over the years by the influx of tourists – which I do understand, but still – this was just jarring.

    As for my friend, he was walking out the wrong door of someplace at the Grand Palace when an employee slapped him across the arm (hard, according to him!). The man who got hit with the water bottle i just saw myself. Sigh. So far, Koh Samui seems friendly as all get out 🙂