Memories of a tour-leader in Thailand (Part 4)

Fruit seller in Bangkok
As part of living in Thailand I did work as tour-leader in South East Asia and being a tour-leader is not always easy. So I had the problems, I had the good & funny things, I had the problems with guides but there is one more problem for a tour-leader.

In the brochures hotels look beautiful and nobody does tell me (or the guests) how they really are. So you arrive in a hotel nearby a village in the mountains. Only 5 km from the village where is a world famous market. Too bad there is no transport to the village. And the rooms are not clean, the water from the tap is black and the staff is very rude. So I took my all group to a much better hotel in the village (good I did not pay yet).
Tours are sometimes made by managers traveling in their mini-van traveling by a speed normal for cars and mini-vans. Doing that same program with a slow bus with 30 people that have to go to toilets, smoke a cigarette, have a lunch and visit highlight on the way means that it will take you at least 25% more time to go from A to B. Or you just have to skip some things.

Tour-leaders and guides costs money, so get them as cheap as you can to make more money for the company. As everywhere you get what you pay for. Most guides do not come further as telling people like "this building is build in 1520" and "His name was Dragon the Great". And to make some more money the guides will try to bring their group to places where they get a little bit commission. The same goes for the bus-driver and bus-boy who not get much salary either. That is where a good tour-leader jump's in and directs his guests to better places as just to places to get commission.

O yes so hotels are great ... with swimming pool on the roof overlooking Bangkok city and the Chao Phraya. Only the swimming pool was so small that it was quickly filled with 3 people. A bit a problem in a hotel with 300 rooms. But yes there is a swimming pool.

Or that 30 store hotel with only 2 lifts for the hotel and breakfast on the 18th floor. As I had never been in this hotel I did not know that .... checking in/out did took us a bit longer as I had planned.

When talking about a new tour I was told that there would be a guide with transport. When arriving at the hotel .."O yes sorry the guide will meet you tomorrow at the border. You will have to arrange your own transport". Same again when we arrived early in the morning at a bus station ...."Sorry no guide or transport, you will have to arrange your own transport". Uh? And who is paying that? Me?

Yes, being a tour-leader is sometimes difficult, most time fun and exciting and a few times not fun at all! I did it for more about 3 years almost full-time and I still love it to show guests that parts of SEA that is not on the front-page of travel journals. And there might even come a part 5 of this.

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