There’s always something that eventually breaks you in a new country, and it’s a very clear moment. It’s that day where you just stop for a second, and you think, this is supposed to be easy! Why do I live here?! Why oh why did we choose this life?! I’m not sure what it was in London – maybe the day that I realized it was pitch black outside at 4pm, and that it was going to be that way for a few months – but it became very clear on Monday what it would be for me here in Bangkok: taxis. Not having to dodge a minefield of dog poop and dead roaches every morning on the walk to work, not the motorcycles that drive on the sidewalk and try to run you over, not the people that start pushing you towards the door on the train before it even stops, not the 90 degree, 90% humidity that we’re having in “cool” season – nope, none of that. The taxis did it.
It was an innocent Monday morning. I got to the BTS (the skytrain here in Bangkok), and decided that I wanted to take a taxi instead of taking the BTS and then trucking the 10 minutes from the station to the embassy, and arriving at work sweaty and with “humidified” hair. It was probably 90 degrees out already, and I think I had meetings that day, so I did a quick traffic check, noticed that it was still moving (yes, that’s the standard), and decided to give it a go.
It didn’t work. I hailed 4 taxis, and none of them would take me.
Why in the world would that happen, you ask? Well, here’s the thing I’ve learned: the taxi drivers in Bangkok don’t actually want to drive anywhere. It’s a conundrum, I know. The first driver didn’t know where the embassy was, and decided he still didn’t know after I told him the name of the road it’s on, and gave directions. In Thai. Strike one. The second guy didn’t give a reason. Neither did the third. The fourth told me “Too much traffic!” This was about the time silly tears of frustration started welling up, because, well, he was already in traffic, going in the direction of the embassy, and there’s actually ALWAYS traffic in Bangkok. Incidentally, in between actually getting these four taxis to stop, there were countless others with their “available”lights on who didn’t even bother stopping.
The mystery we’re still trying to figure out, is how this is an advantage to the drivers. You need passengers to make money, right? To be fair, they make an insanely small amount per ride (it can be roughly 50-60 baht, or about $1.50, for a 10-15 minute ride), but I would guess that no money vs. some and a pretty decent tip from an American would be better. My logic is off though, and the taxi drivers won. I cried. In the street. And I later arrived at work 15 minutes later than I normally would have, as hot and sweaty as I would have been if I had walked from the BTS. Point to Thailand.
Le sigh. So the city won that day, but I will keep on truckin’, because that’s what we do! You take the good with the bad, you focus on the good, you take your minute to cry or scream in frustration when the bad just really gets you, and then you keep on going. (And you hope the next post is a little kinder to you. Fingers crossed.)