Tag Archives: taxi driver

The Trip Back From Mae Sot

Of course, even the best laid plans go awry and our trip back from Mae Sot proved no different! After another adventure plunging down the mountain in the back of a truck, we headed to the bus stop…only to find out there were no more seats available on the bus to Bangkok! We were told to grab a bus to a different providence, with the possibility that we could get tickets to Bangkok from there. 

So we got on a bus to Tak province. 

Unlike our bus ride to Mae Sot, however, this was not a smooth ride. The police kept pulling the bus over. Or maybe they pulled everyone over. I’m not sure. All I know is that every hour or so, the bus got pulled over and everyone had to bring out their passports and show their visa to the masked cop. 

It interrupted any attempts on my part to nap and put me in a very ill humor with the Thai police. 

Not that they actually showed much concern for me. In fact, compared to my friends, I barely got any notice from the police. One glance at my white skin (or even worse, syllable from my English speaking mouth!) would send them hurrying away. But the others underwent stricter scrutiny. Thailand is a very racial system. 

While sitting on the bus, one of the attendants walking around asked who wanted to go to Bangkok. (At least, I assume she asked that. Thankfully, some family/friends of Mae Sod’s were also traveling to Bangkok and able to translate a little.) We said we wished to go and the lady demanded a certain sum of money. She then scribbled on a piece of paper and told us to present it at the bus stop!

It was not the most formal way to transfer buses, but thankfully it worked. Once we arrived at our destination, they whisked us onto the next bus to Bangkok. We got back around midnight. 

By this point, neither Mae Sod or I had working phones. No buses run that late. We decided to bite the bullet and take a taxi. With great trepidation, we got into the one hailed for us. Our last driver made us fear for our lives. This one…was absolutely a gem!

He spoke very little English but cheerfully did his best to maintain a conversation. “Thailand very hot! You try food? Is spicy?” 

We originally planned to drop her off first and then have me either stay the night or hail another taxi. However, we liked our driver so much we asked if he would be willing to take a “second” trip. He did not know my address, but thankfully I could direct him from that point. He was definitely an answer to our desperate prayers! 

An Inauspicious Beginning

For an amazing trip, my journey to Mae Sot did not start out amazingly! In fact, it started with me losing my debit card.

More precisely, I must have lost my debit card about a week earlier. That’s the last time I remember having it. Almost everything here runs on cash. Accordingly, I spent the hours before my trip slightly panicking and trying to leave a list of instructions with my groggy Mom before getting on a bus and potentially losing data connectivity. 

My Mom, however, was amazing ❤ ❤ ❤ and got it all sorted out for me. I still did not think I would be able to make it on the trip but my friend offered to lend me the money to make the trip happen. I am eternally grateful to both of them.

Mae Sod and I then jumped in a taxi to head to the bus stop. Except our taxi driver did not know what he was doing. That’s the kindest spin I can put on it. Since we were using the Grab app, he did not get extra money for going out of his way, so I’m not sure why he could not seem to find the right road. I did, however, wonder a time or two if we were going to get murdered. He kept going down dark roads under construction. (In his defense, that might be the only way to get to the bus stop. And every road seems sketchy at night.)

We arrived at the bus stop much later than expected and met up with Phuc and Sunny. And then we began to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

There was a delay, of course. This is Thailand. But we sat at the spot our tickets told us to for over an hour waiting. Thankfully, my friends started chatting with a fellow passenger also headed to Mae Sot and he somehow knew when our bus came in. As it was a spot several rows away from where our tickets said to go, I do not know how anyone found it. I certainly do not know how we would have found it without him!

I am afraid I did not take this delay with much grace. You see, I like sleep. I consider 8 hours a night barley tolerable. 9 hours is necessary. 10 slightly extravagant but occasionally necessary. To achieve this, I go to bed by 10 pm. Back home, I promptly fall asleep within seconds. Here it sometimes takes me as long as fifteen minutes, which is certainly irksome. But overall, I embrace my superhero like ability to fall asleep almost instantly anywhere. 

Our bus originally left after 10 and actually left closer to midnight. As you can imagine, I went from “sleepy” to “overtired toddler” mode in record time. It also did not help that we waited in the steamy, hot bus terminal packed with people You could hardly move without bumping into someone. Every time a bus needed to back out, it sent people scurrying into one another while dragging boxes and bags out of the way of the bus! Too many people, far too humid, and no sleep: a combination I never want to meet again. 

Thankfully, I quickly crashed on the bus!

Taxi Driver: * laughs nervously *

I had a truly fabulous day exploring some incredible malls with a fellow American here in Thailand and I’d love to tell you about it.

But the evening really belongs to my taxi driver and his nervous laugh. 

If I were ranking People I Don’t Want Laughing Nervously While Working, I think taxi drivers fall right under heart surgeons and airline pilots. I place so much trust in this random stranger to not get into a car accident and kill me. And in Thailand, where traffic rules are really more of guidelines, I place double the trust.

My taxi driver tonight would speed up abruptly, or slam on the breaks, and make a sort of “whooooeeeshhhh” noise right after. At which point I would laugh nervously. And then he would laugh nervously. And then we would narrowly avoid hitting someone on a motorcycle.

About ten minutes into the drive, my taxi driver abruptly pulled over and said: “GPS no good.”

Except I did not understand him at first and looked out the window in bafflement. I informed him this was not my destination, nor anywhere near it. He repeated “GPS no good” about six times before I finally understood and pulled up the destination on my own phone and handed it over. 

“I speak a little English,” he then informed me, beaming. “GPS no good.”

“Are you having a good day?” I asked conversationally. 

He ignored me. Several other attempts at communication – all ignored – left me convinced his “little English” only involved GPSs.  

He did have much to say about GPSs. He informed me his GPS came from Thailand. I had Apple? 

I pointed out that my phone is a Samsung. (Probably. It was the cheapest smartphone I could find.)

He nodded knowingly. Japan. Good phones, good GPSs. (We narrowly avoided hitting another biker.) 

Another problem presented itself. My phone showed the distance in miles and feet, not meters! Eh, he shrugged it off. Close enough. 

Then my phone dimmed. This freaked him out. It went dark! But he did not know the words to say it went dark, so he kept contrasting the dim screen of my phone to the bright light coming from his. 

By the time we reached my destination, I counted 6 motorcyclist who barely made it past us with their lives. 

* insert nervous laughter *