Have you ever been on a taxi ride that took you to places you did not want to be? Anyone that has ever been in a taxi probably has felt uncertainty when they didn’t recognize the route the taxi driver was taking and realized that they were going 5 miles to a 2 mile place.
In Thailand there are three types of taxis. One is the traditional taxi we are accustomed to in the United States. Drivers have a very hard time of it because every ride is negotiated for and they must weight the cost of gas against going farther or paying the toll on the freeway. Gaining entry to a hotel lobby cue requires a bribe. The person riding in the taxi always gets what they bargain for and will pay the price for bargaining and getting a very low fare. It all comes down to this: Low fare/long ride. You just have to be careful or ALWAYS offer to pay the toll.
The second is the water taxi plying the rivers and canals of Bangkok. Being the person that loads and unloads people on a water taxi has got to be the most dangerous job in the world. I loved the water taxi a lot. You saw so much and Thailand could not hide when you were on the water. But in order to get to the water taxi, you must ride a Skytrain, maybe a taxi and probably a Tuk Tuk. Some water taxi docks were hidden in hard to find and to get to places.
The Tuk Tuk ride is quite another thing. Tuk Tuk drivers are notorious for being in cahoots with the con-men in Thailand. In fact Thailand is notorious for the number of con-men on the streets. They lurk in doorways, at tourist stops and everywhere in between. Their con works like this. They are paid a commission by jewelry makers, tailors and malls. They approach you on the street speaking perfect English and ask where you are from. You feel special and adventurous when you tell them how far you have come etc. They will pose as airline executives, travel agents, computer programmers and on and on. And they only want to be helpful. They never ask for money and they are dressed like wealthy people. I have seen them swoop down on people and have watched them out of the corner of my eye as they swooped down on me. Thailand has a special division of their police called “Tourist Police” and this just may be why.
Now the Tuk Tuk is a further down the food chain. I think the con-men pay them a part of the “commission” that they receive. You will see clumps off Tuk Tuks everywhere. Unlike taxis, they don’t move around looking for fares but just hang out and wait. When the con-man gets you a ride in a Tuk Tuk taxi at no cost be very careful. There will be an unwanted stop on your tour. and they have you!!!! In order for you to get back to the starting point without going to the tailor, jewelry shop and mall you must be very firm and then you will probably need to scream, yell and threaten to get out without paying. Our Tuk Tuk driver had the worst cab you have ever seen and he was just not really to bright. (Sorry!) He kept saying something over and over again and I kept repeating it to myself. It was the “English spoken with a Spanish (Thai) accent” experience I wrote about in an earlier blog. Finally, I realized he was saying “Tuk Tuk driver can’t catcha break!” I began to giggle as we returned to the tourist stop where we had so unwisely taken the bait. We were so gullible but we did get to see some things we would not have seen otherwise. My husband paid him 800 bot, which was 800 bot more than he deserved. But the look of glee on the little man’s face was worth it.
I tried to remember in Thailand that we were bargaining for a ride, be it a long ride or a short ride, but the taxi driver or Tuk Tuk driver was bargaining for tonights meal. It is a very hard life.