Tag Archives: taxi

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! 

Further Tales of Transportation

It seems I primarily blog about transportation, but fighting thousands of people to get from Point A to Point B is truly the most exciting part of my day. 

In the end, yesterday’s motorcycle taxi proved the right choice. He drove on the side walk and weaved in and out of bumper to bumper traffic, but I arrived basically on time. Overall, a positive experience (and almost tame in comparison to standing in the back of a pickup truck hurdling down a mountain…but that’s a story for next week.)

Coming home from Bible study, my phone lasted long enough to inform me which route to take and then died. Filled with trepidation, but unwilling to hazard a taxi without the security of a GPS, I climbed aboard and held my breath less I miss my stop. It then occurred to me that I had my other phone on me and the GPS on that one would work regardless of internet connection. Unfortunately, it was also at only a few percent battery. 3% and almost there…but oh! Turning on a side street….2%…are we going left now? 1%…almost to my street….

Thankfully, it lasted to my destination. 

Today I went grocery shopping and one glance at the night sky and crammed bus convinced me to go home by taxi. (The longer I stay here in Thailand, the lazier I get.) I’ve lately noticed that people on buses pay less notice to me, which I attribute to my appearing less lost all the time. I decided instead of using my Grab app to call a taxi (which charges a minimal fee and increases the price during rush hour traffic), I would instead risk flagging a taxi down and battle it out for the meter price. Perhaps my less-confused expression would mean less chance of getting taken advantage of.

Normally, one sight of my Western features sends taxis scurrying in my direction; I have to fight them off. Murphy’s Law being what it is, today I could not get one to slow down to save my life. The few I did manage to connect with looked baffled when I told them my destination and sped off. I finally managed to convince a driver to let me give directions. And you know what? For as much as I complain about Thai taxi drivers, this guy was great. He was polite, did not protest when I demanded he use the meter, and even attempted to explain when I expressed concern that he were in the wrong lane to turn left. I spent half the price I would if I used the Grab app. 

Overall, I would say I am almost becoming confident in my ability to figure out which transportation mode will get me from Point A to Point B for the least hassle and cost!

A Tale of Transportation

It started with the pouring rain this morning. One crack of thunder and I decided a taxi sounded like a better decision than either walking or taking the public bus. I pulled up my trusty Grab app (like Uber but less awesome) and found…no taxis available. Surprised, I hit search multiple times. Nothing. 

I grabbed the bus. Unfortunately, potentially because of the rain which stopped almost as soon as I got on the bus, traffic crawled. I ended up showing up for class 30 minutes late. Of course we had a new professor today and he was on time. 

Then because I wore my rain shoes this morning, I decided to take the bus back home. Somehow I missed my stop. It took me a while to notice. I kept thinking, “Wow, this commute feels long.” But it wasn’t until I realized I did not recognize anything out my window that it dawned on me that I must have passed my stop.

Being the logical person I am, I thought to myself, “Well, I know this bus runs past my apartment in both directions, so eventually it must turn around.”

Turns out it does. And it only took 4 hours of riding the bus to get me back! In the meanwhile, I got to see the very outskirts of Bangkok and chat with a very nice 70-year-old woman who was seriously concerned by my nonchalant attitude and gave me detailed instructions to get to her house in case the bus just kicked me off somewhere. 

Obviously my prolonged bus ride threw my afternoon off a little. In order to get to Bible study in time, I dumped my stuff and ran out to call a taxi. With an hour and a half to take a 30 minute drive, I thought I gave myself plenty of time to beat rush hour. Little did I know. 

After the hour and a half passed, and then another 30 minutes after that, I finally just paid the driver, dashed out of traffic, and walked for 20 minutes on foot. I don’t think the cars budged an inch between when I left and when I arrived at my destination. I did try to run but it took all of ten seconds for me to remember I don’t run. And also even if I wanted to, people walk sooooooooo slow. 

Thankfully, the kind people at my Bible study saved me dinner and I joined a group of them walking back. We opted to take the subway/sky train. As we left, the pastor noted, “Barring anything unforeseen, you can always count on the sky train to get you places quickly.”

So obviously, guess what experienced a delay “due to high volume of traffic”? Once the the sky train got us to our destination, my friend and I boarded a bus and things went fairly smoothly for a while. I got on the bus and off at the right time. I caught my transfer bus pretty easily. And then I somehow missed the stop for my apartment. 

Not feeling like an adventure to the outskirts of town again, I immediately got out. Somehow I still managed to go over 6 blocks without noticing we passed my stop! This obviously called for a trip to the nearest convenience store to buy a myself a Snickers.

Some days demand chocolate. 

I then thought about calling a taxi, or at least a motorbike taxi, but after due reflection on my day, opted to walk. And lo and behold, I finally made it home!

Thai Rush Hour Traffic

Nearly 2.5 hours.

It took nearly 2.5 hours to go 4 miles this afternoon on the bus. Granted, I was on a bus headed into the busiest part of the city at rush hour. But 2.5 hours!

Buses might be the cheapest form of transportation but for my sanity I might stick to taxis…even the motorcycle ones.

Motorcycle Taxi

Strained (possibly sprained) my fingers from typing (law school problems) so keeping this post short.

I rode on a motorcycle taxi today. It was vaguely terrifying. 10/10 would recommend. 

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 *