Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bangkok Part 5: Taxi Driver in Bangkok - Up Close & Personal

Bangkok Taxi Drivers - Up, Close and Personal... Well.. Sort of... 
BTS and MRT would definitely be my first choice of travelling around in Bangkok. Like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, they are efficient, convenient and safe. However, there are instances where I had no choice but to flag a taxi on the Bangkok road and take a chance. Many drivers were known of hidden and suspicious agenda, but there were also friendly and nice taxi drivers who truly reflect the real culture of Siamese. 

Here, I would like to share some observations based on my readings in comparative to what I've experienced during my trips in Bangkok.

11 Rules of Taking a Cab in Bangkok
  1. While it is a logically accepted fact that Bangkok taxi driver are expected to be well-versed of the places in Bangkok, well, this is not necessarily the case. Often I was confused as to whether the guy behind the wheel was actually a Bangkok taxi driver or an Amazing Race contestant who was clueless of the direction as I was. So, it would be a great idea to bring a map or have the address of your destination (lot better if the address was written in Thai language).
  2. Theoretically, all taxis in Bangkok are metered. Well, as I said, "theoretically". It was actually a challenging mission to find a taxi driver who agreed to use the meter. Most of them would fixed an exorbitant fare e.g. for 40 baht trip, I was charged 100 baht. Either you succumb to their fixed fare regime, or keep on waiting for another cab. Good luck. 
  3. You have no right to demand them to bring you to anywhere you wish to go. They have the absolute right to say no. And there is nothing you can do about it.
  4. Even though Bangkok has been a popular tourist spot for decades, I realised that communicating with some of the taxi driver in English was actually a challenge. I had to properly construct basic English in my mind before asking. Something like... from "Could you please bring me to Siem Paragorn, please?" to "I... go... Siem Paragorn..." Got it?
  5. Even when I solidly mentioned a specific place to go, the taxi driver still insisted on bringing me to some gem-making place. This situation, if prolonged, can definitely lead to an adversarial argument, which is definitely against the friendly culture of the Thai people. So, to cut it short, I have two options. One: turn away and wait for another cab. Two: just let him bring me there, spend my time for five minutes looking at the gem (while the driver que up to get some 100 baht petrol voucher) and he will bring me to my destination later on. But I was advised not to take any cab offering me to lucky Buddha. Your choice. 
  6. It is a common practice all over the world, some notorious taxi drivers pretended they do not have small change. Naughty naughty. So carry small bills!
  7. This is a universal rule applicable in the entire universe: make sure no valuable things left behind before you get out of the taxi. Your iphones, your ipad, your laptop etc.
  8. I know, this is an unfair generalisation. The moving taxis are more honest that the ones waiting in front of the lobby and waving at you for their transport services. But again, rule no. 8 is not necessarily true. Ok, abaikan. 
  9. Always reflect that you have been to Bangkok for few times. Many of the bad taxi drivers would attempt to deceive you by saying your specific destination is closed for specific reason etc. Do some reading, be brave, tell them "I've been here before." Once you said "I've been here before", they will not try to fool you anymore. The reason why they suggested some specific places like some cheesy gem stores or tailor shop, is that they may receive perks from those places such as gas voucher etc. 
  10. Follow your heart. Trust your intuition. If you do not have a good feeling about the cab, wait for another one. Better still, burn some calories by walking to the nearest BTS or MRT station. 
  11. Treat the taxi drivers with respect. Never raise your voice unnecessarily as this is truly against the real culture of the people of Thailand. Talk to them nicely or decline politely. After all, they are just trying to make a living, and hoping, one of those days, they would be able to get something more than usual. 

Be careful. Take care and take charge, people. 

Hairi Tahir
P/s: I am in Singapore right now!! Yeeha!

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2 Nukilan:

FiZzOu said...

Why is it called Bangkok Part 5?

Hairi Tahir said...

Coz i've written 4 posts about my experience in bangkok previously. So this is just a continuation. :)

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