We flew from Kathmandu to Bangkok for a brief two night visit. We decided to make an effort to get to Bhutan after talking to someone in Africa who had seen 120 countries and ranked it as one of his all time favourites. Unfortunately the late itinerary change made flights a bit complicated and we had some trouble booking things overseas. Many thanks to Moe and Earl back home for helping us getting things sorted out.
We stayed at our favourite hotel chain in absolute comfort. Our time in Bangkok was spent doing legwork for the next couple weeks of travel, but we did have time to venture to the former Royal Palace, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Grand Palace. On arrival we were steered clear of the entrance being told it was closed to foreigners for the morning due to a religious ceremony. We followed a chain of three colluding scammers to the point where they tried to get us to take a Tuk-Tuk for a cheap tour. If you have ever been to Bangkok you know taking a Tuk-Tuk can often lead to being dumped at a jewellery or tailor shop regardless of where you ask to go. We parted from the scam at this point and went back to the hotel. When we were told the Palace was closed to foreigners until the afternoon by a number of people it seemed plausible, but I asked the hotel about it anyway. They double checked and confirmed no restriction existed. We rushed back only to have the group of scammers try the same thing again. This time I took blatant photos of everyone involved as armed guards were in close range if it became ugly. Our intent is to send the photos to the Tourist Police when we go. They scattered and we went in to enjoy the palace. When we left we interrupted the scam a number of times to the relief of the tourists about to fall for it. We stayed for a bit thwarting their business, but when we saw mobile phones come out we reconsidered as it is organized crime and if it is linked to the mob we could get ourselves in trouble. We quickly made our exit back to the hotel. We are now at an airport hotel preparing for a very early flight to Bhutan. We are excited about the trip and hopeful that it goes well.