Saturday, December 21, 2013

Three Taxis from the Airport Plus a Hike

After an exhausting 34 hours of travel time, which included frequent long-winded announcements spanning multiple languages interrupting my Tetris games played on the in-flight entertainment system, at long last I arrive at Bangkok’s international airport.

Taxi #1
Make it through immigration, lengthy wait for bag I shouldn’t have checked, I head to the public taxi area, driver starts meter and it reads 2450 baht ($76) or so after the first kilometer. I question the accuracy; “Meter, meter,” he insists.
“Let me out of the car.” Understanding I’m not falling for his game, he explains, “Oh, meter broken. I take you, I take you, you give me 500 baht”-- double the going rate.
“No, 250 baht,” I respond.
Moments later he drops me by the side of the road just outside the airport and circles back for an easier mark, as a new driver picks me up.

Taxi #2
Before I throw my bags in the back, I state clearly, “Taxi meter.” He agrees, we’re off.
Now, Bangkok traffic can be notoriously heavy, but we seem to be making okay time despite going an unfamiliar route. Arriving in the heart of the city, we find the arteries clogged.
“Are we close?” I inquire. “Yes, very close,” he answers, “Suhkumvit (the main drag) just up there.” After nearly a day and a half of travel and an hour locked in the cab, I’m admittedly getting impatient as the only thing I want to do is check in, take a quick shower, and stretch out.
Half an hour later, we’ve moved 100 yards (a very poor 40 yard dash time time, even for senior citizens) and have finally successfully merged. Now we’re moving, and well, we keep moving. Around, and around. “Why aren’t we on Suhkumvit?” I ask, as nicely as I can, but undoubtedly with an edge.
“No, no, we are close,” he responds. Traffic ebbs and flows. Five minutes later we’re still driving, he’s taking me for a ride both literally and figuratively. I inquire, and receive the same recycled BS answer.
“Pull over,” I command, trying to compose myself.
“No, no, we close.”
“Pull over now and let me out!”
He’s not pleased, but I’m out of patience and he knows it. The cab stops, the meter reads 270 baht. I give him 250 and walk away. Though I would have been justified in paying him zero, I didn’t think it was worth the risk of exacerbating the situation.
A local chef chops vegetables at her food stand, I inquire how close Suhkumvit is. “Oh, very far,” she replies slightly surprised to see me there with my luggage. I was right about my driver giving me poor service- Hooray, right?

Taxi #3
I hail a new taxi, get in, tell him where to go. A few minutes later we’re back at the exact same narrow road as before with the long, long line of cars waiting to merge onto the main drag. I make the decision not to take this sitting down.
“Let me out,” I tell my poor driver, who has done absolutely nothing wrong.
“Huh?” he answers surprised. 

The Walk
Pay him with a tip, exit, throw my bag over my shoulder, start walking. It’s hot and muggy, sweat starts pouring.
Passing a mound of trash on the side of the road, I see rats weaving their way in and out of it. Twenty yards later there’s a coconut stand. I purchase one and eagerly await its opening via machete. I inquire where Suhkumvit is. “Not so far, that way, that way,” she points down the long line of cars.
I’m moving so fast now I’m passing cars on foot like they’re standing still- either I’m Superman, or the cars are literally, standing still; you decide. I get to the front of the line, turn right, and find my hotel.
Next time I’m just going to walk from the airport and avoid the hassle.

taxi meter, Bangkok


  1. Nice post, Rich! Yeah, Sukhumvit is impossibe in a car or bus. Best way now is to take the train straight from the airport. You'll reach the BTS line in about 45 minutes and then you can transfer to the BTS and glide right over Sukhumvit. Looking forward to more posts!

    1. Thanks for the nice comment Greg. Yeah, I have taken the train, for some reason I thought the taxi would be faster/ easier/ avoid the transfer from the BTS/ walk to hotel. This time I was wrong :)

  2. rich it doesn't do you justice to show all your readers how cheap you are. (I thought we fixed this lol) you state it to be hot, humid and rat infested. taxi number 2 would have to do. telling your readers your walking faster than the cars are moving doesn't justify the hot humid rat walk with luggage. I hope u have a great trip. have a happy new year!

    1. Sir Chad, I was NOT being cheap, I literally didn't wan to spend another minute sitting down. It was NOT the money, I really believed I could get there more quickly and I was incredibly impatient!


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