Perhaps it’s because I flied solo a lot more during my latest trip home now that my mom (sick) and my friends (work) are no longer available as my sidekick, and that I am older and can drink more than one beer before passing out drunk, I just suddenly realize a few simple things in life of a Bangkokian I never noticed before.
Here goes my “Ah-ha!” moments and survival tips about taxi cabs, pedestrians, love affair with food, and nightlife in Bangkok.
Cabs that have “Available” sign (Wang – or empty) lit up in the window doesn’t necessarily means that they are actually available. Many cabs would leave the light on eventhough they have passengers. Laziness or forgetfulness on the cabbies’ part? Either way, it’ll leave you feel like a jackass hailing a cab that wouldn’t stop.
Dude! What are you doing in my cab??
This is not New York or London where you can hail a cab, get in, tell them where you want to go, and they’ll take you. In Bangkok, you hail a cab, open the door and ask the cabbie if he would take you to your destination. If he says yes, you get. If not, close the door and hail another cab.
Oh yes, Thai cabbies can say no. Not quite what the government had in mind when they wanted all the cabs “modernized” to meter system. The meters were installed in cabs to regulate the pricing of fares and so that the cabs will take you anywhere you want. Before this, you have to haggle with the cabbie and they can tell you that they don’t want to go where you’re going. Now, you may have the regulated fare but the cabbies can still refuse to go to your destination. Why that is? Apparently, the longer time spent sitting in traffic–usually related to distance you want to travel–the less money the cabbie would make during that time. So, you’ll find yourself in a pickle trying to get a cab to take you to Central Chidlom from the Grand Palace during rush hour.
Cabbies wait for no man…
…just before 9 a.m. and again before 3 p.m. unless you’re on their way to turn in their cars or they are independent (which is quite rare). You’ll see empty cabs zooming right past you, empty and all. Those times are like the shift change in taxi driving world. The cabbies rush back to their respective cab companies to turn in their cars or they get fined if they’re late. Understandable. Only when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere yourself.