The Origins of Bangkok Beyond
We’ve had our blog up for a couple of months but so far we’ve only been putting up informational posts about Thailand. I feel it’s about time we introduce ourselves. I’ll start off by sharing a bit about the background for why we started this company.
I guess I have to go back to my first visit to Thailand back in 1999 to explain the roots of our company. I was supposed to tour S.E Asia with my best friend.
We had planned this trip for a couple of years, but he backed out at the last minute. I had really looked forward to this trip. I had never been to Asia before so I said what the h…. I’ll just go alone. I bought a one way ticket to Bangkok intending to go around S.E Asia for 6 months. I bought Lonely Planet’s S.E Asia on a shoestring and thought I was prepared (funny).
My only plan was to head straight to a beach in southern Thailand, and take it from there. Things didn’t quite go as planned….
When I arrived at Don Muang I headed straight for, what I thought, was the Tourist Information, bypassing all the people who wanted to take me for a ride. I thought I was so smart.
The guy at the “Tourist Information” told me that I didn’t want to go the south. It was always raining and it was not safe to go there. He convinced me to book 3 nights in a hotel in Bangkok from him. A free temple and city tour was included in the price. I took a public taxi to my hotel in the Pratunam area. Soon after I was picked up by two guys in a private car. They took me to Grand Place, – oh what a sight! I’ll never forget the splendor. One of guys came in with me but he couldn’t tell me anything as he wasn’t a licensed guide so that would be illegal.
After wards they took me to a tailor shop, ushering me in trying to explain to me that they would get gas money if I just went in. I didn’t have to buy anything they said, just go take a look. But once inside a high pressure sales pitch ensued from one of the staff from the shop. He explained to me again and again that 10,000 baht was so cheap that I was a fool if I didn’t buy. I needed a suit and compared to prices at home it was very cheap so I was quite easily convinced. Being from Norway I was like most Norwegians, hesitant to bargain. So I bought it.
Then we went to see two more temples, Wat Po and Wat Traimit. Again I just wondered at the exotic beauty. Before taking me to the hotel they stopped at a gigantic jewelry store where once again they ushered me inside so they could collect gas money. This time I didn’t buy anything despite several attempts from the sales people.
The next day I went on a 10 baht 1 hour sightseeing trip with a tuk-tuk driver outside my hotel. He took me to a tailor shop to “Just look”. This time I was offered a suit for half the price of the first shop so I bought another. Both of these are common tricks to get extra money out of tourists were explained in my travel guide but I was suckered in anyway.
I met Tony at the end of my first trip. Having worked in the tourism industry in Bangkok most of his adult life, he explained to me how guided and other sightseeing tours worked. It was then I first thought about starting a travel/tour company. There’s plenty of room for an honest profit helping tourists, not exploiting them.
Two years later Tony, Monica and I started our first company. We opened in the summer of 2001. Two months later somebody crashed a couple of airplanes in to the WTC and our company was doomed. Nobody traveled after that, our dream was crushed.
Since then we have been trying our hands on a couple of different businesses, biding our time. Last year we finally felt ready to start again. I gathered up the old team and brought in a new member, Oh – my wife. She has worked for five years in a travel agency in Bangkok, so she’s a valuable addition. Together we have a broad set of skills and extensive experience. Before Christmas we felt the need to hire in outside help, Cherry as an Marketing Assistant.
This time around our concept is a little different but still the main focus will be on providing unforgettable memories in the form of great service and a deeper experience than you could ever hope to gain on your own.