Experience of taking cab in Bangkok

Long traffic line on Petchburi road - Pic: wai phyo myint / BKK

If you are a first time traveler to South East Asian countries especially to Thailand, many people may suggest you to get a meter taxi if you need to go by cab. If you can not get it, bargain the price to get half of the price taxi drivers ask you. During my two-days visit there, I came to know why people suggested that. You would better take notes on them, if you want your trip just right and smooth. And for them, I even would like to add some suggestions on – make sure the driver turns the meter on. Do not think that the driver forgets about it and you can go away with it. And, make sure you get someone who will translate the location you want to go to the taxi driver – especially when you get a cab to go for an important appointment or a meeting (Even though the driver say ‘yes’ he knows. You would better request someone who speaks Thai to give the direction to the driver.)

I made sure I got a meter taxi to go to my appointment. I showed the address I had to go. I knew something was wrong because he just glanced at the address card and said ‘yes’. I had been there the other day and I knew the place but I was not good at giving him the direction to the office I had to go. He was taking me to the other direction. So, I showed the card to him again and told him it was supposed to be the other direction. I also checked with him again – “Do you really know how to get that place?” He assured me – with a big smile – “Yes, I do know.” He pointed to the long traffic line. So, I got the impression that he was choosing this route to avoid the heave traffic.

After a while on the cab, I also noticed that the meter was not running. When I reminded him to turn it on, what he explained was – during the rush hours, he could not drive with the price the meter would charge. It does not make sense to me and to most of us because the meter keeps going up even while the car getting stuck in traffic. Only after I insisted I would get off if he kept resisting turning the meter on, he let it go.

After driving along on that road for about 30 minutes (the office is in just about 15 minutes drive distance from the place I got on this cab).   – I saw the airport signs along the road. I doubted on that he was taking me to the direction I requested. When I told him, I was not going to the airport. He realized his mistake – told me that he assumed that I was going to the airport since he saw that I brought my big luggage with me  and turned his car back to the place I said. Yes, he was partly right. I planned to go to the airport directly but not at that moment – only after I was done with my appointment.

I did not complain him because it involved the language barrier, but I had to make him stop near a public telephone booth to call to the person I had to meet and to let him know I would not arrive there in time and to request one of his staff to instruct the driver how to get there. What he told me was – “no worries. Wai – you are not the only person who experienced being lost in translation with Thai taxi drivers. At least, he understood when you explained him he was going to the wrong place.”

During the last World Cup, after the ‘must’ goal England team scored against Argentine team was refused, many people urged FIFA to seek for the help of technology to watch the goal line. However, FIFA still insists keeping technology out of soccer fields by stating that the excitement of the games is through the errors that people in the field make.

I agree with the ideology behind FIFA’s ban on the use of technology. If everything is alright on my trip, like soccer games free from any errors, it will get me bored. I want to see and experience those “not right” things as well. That is the beauty of my trip and that is what I have excited about this trip since long ago. Of course – no complain – as long as I can make to my appointment and keep other things I had to do in line.


About Wai Phyo Myint

Wai Phyo Myint is a senior at Green Mountain College, majoring in Political Journalism. She is now in Cambodia doing her senior studies and volunteering as an Communications/Advocacy strategy intern with International Labour Organiations in Phnom Penh.
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4 Responses to Experience of taking cab in Bangkok

  1. Nicolaszaw says:

    I faced like u on 2006. Even the meter run, the heavy traffic make more pay. Most of taxi driver and hotel staff are not familiar in English at all. At that time ko Sai was there and his fris help us the translation all the time. I miss my Bangkok days after reading this..

  2. may khaing says:

    Bangkok traffic is mad. I was experiencing on the arrival of BKK on Friday night. (Rain made it wrose) Sigh! It took me two hours instead of fourty five minutes to get the Hotel. I wonder how the sky train helps to sort out this heavy traffic.

  3. KKT says:

    Most Thai taxi men, Tuk Tuk men are so lousy. They sent passengers to anyhow, only concerning money. That’s why, almost all farang in Thailand learn Thai language in order not to be cheated.

  4. nicolas zaw says:

    now i need to addin Jakarta. Terrible traffic. I thought i wil miss the flight. So exiciting on the taxi and my heart beat is running like the drum. Even thought i arranged 3 hours advance before the check in time, the road took about two hour. I was talking to the taxi driver in english and he told me back in Bahasa. 😛 Luckily i catched the flight.

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