Where we live, we need some type of transportation to reach the Skytrain. Walking there is always a possibility but it takes something like 40 minutes, and 40 minutes under 40 degrees with nearly 100% humidity, well, feasible on week ends but definitely not to go to work.
An option would be to get a car, but honestly driving across Bangkok and back every day would take a very, very long time and would probably end up being more expensive than getting a taxi.
Taxis are everywhere, they are green and yellow, Barbie pink, white and pink, blue, sometimes full yellow or full green, in all cases there are very easy to identify.
And they’re very cheap. The initial charge is of 35 baht, then 5.50 baht /km for the next 10 kilometres, then 6.50 baht/km for 10th to 20th kilometres, etc. if stuck in a middle of a traffic jam the meter goes up 2 bahts per minutes.
Basically going to the BTS from our house can cost anything from 50 to 120 baht depending on the traffic.
So every day, to go to work, I need to call a taxi, and back grab one outside the BTS.
This operation takes more or less time so the ideal situation would definitely be to find someone who drives me to the BTS everyday.
And so it happened that over a couple of weeks, the same taxi picked me up three times in the morning. All used to mines and creative communication, I tried to asked him if he lived around here and he said something about his wife, then I asked if it would be possible that he picks me up every day.
This sounds easy, it was not. I think we understood each other but at the same time we weren’t too sure.. Ultimately he told me “Thai friend, call”so I saif yes, good idea, I’ll have a thai friend call you, please give me your number. And so he gets this paper out that has not one but TWO numbers. Which one do I call? Did I ask.. OK ok he responded, and gave me another paper with another TWO numbers. Which one? Ok ok call, call yes. Wtf..
So here I am with 4 telephone numbers, not having a clue what they correspond to (maybe we didn’t understand each other at all after all), but soon I noticed that two were the same. So I figured that was the one to call, and asked one of my colleagues for help.
It worked out well, in fact we had perfectly understood each other, it turned out he drops off his wife nearby every day and so W. started to come pick me up after dropping off his wife. Thanks to him I greatly improved my Thai, I had to learn how to say I am not working tomorrow, the days of the week, is it possible to drive my daughter at the airport at 6AM and things like that. He’s met Francois, Melissa & Yvain and Louise, asks me sometimes about them. He shows me picture of his 4 years old daughter, he is a really nice guy.
I pay him well too, we did not agree on this but every day I give him the same thing regardless if there is a lot of traffic or not, and he’s stopped turning the meter on.
W.’s taxi is pink and white, every day starts with the dogs greeting him at the gate.
Then he drops me off and I climb the stairs to the BTS, more or less crowed depending on the days.
There is a BTS every two minutes at the most so it’s fairly quick. Once arrived, I have a few minutes walk along a nice and green avenue and I’m at work!
It takes me between 35 and 40 minutes door to door on a standard day . It can happen there is a traffic problem then it’s a bit longer.
Going back is pretty much the same except that I do not have a regular taxi, but there are usually plenty waiting outside the BTS. Except a couple of day ago. I returned home earlier than usual because I had a work call with france to attend that was going to last until late evening, and getting out of the BTS there was this large queue and no taxi. Traffic was horrid. I got in the queue waiting patiently for my turn, when suddenly, this taxi (who has just loaded someone) gets near me and opens the front door shouting something in Thai. I barely pay attention but people around me look so surprised that I give another look, and there is W. gesturing me to hop in!
I do, he says something to the old guy in the back seat who seems happy about whatever that was about (probably something like, do you mind if I take her along) and off we go.
Indeed he dropped off the man on the way, I thin k he told him he was not charging him but the old man insisted and pushed a bill in his hand. “Nice man” W. told me.
When we arrived home, I paid him the usual that I pay in the morning, and to my surprise, he offered me back the bill from the old man.
I refused, (after all he had saved me from a horrible traffic and probably a long, long wait), but I was really glad he did. I am always a little afraid of being taken for walking wallet, and the apparent kindness of the people being motivated only by interest.
In some cases it’s not a big deal, but in others, as with P. & W. I like to think kindness is sincere. And this small gesture makes me think towards that direction, that W. is a great guy!