Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taxi to the Airport

I wrote a little bit about taxis in Bangkok but I thought I would just tell you a bit about my final experience on the morning of my departure.  As I stated previously, taxis are metered but it can be a bit of a challenge actually getting the driver to turn the meter on and the best advice is not to put your bags in the trunk or to get in the vehicle and allow it to start moving before the driver agrees to turn on the meter.  I know all of these things and yet failed to follow my own rules on the morning I was to begin my long trek home to Canada.

In my defence, it was 5am and I was still feeling rather lousy from the effects of a cold or some other strange Asian illness so when the bellhop waved down the taxi, put my bags in the trunk, and told the driver where I was going, I didn't really pay much attention.  I jumped in the back seat and as he began pulling away I remembered to tell him to turn the meter on...too late!

"No meter...very far...," he retorted.

"Whoa, whoa, pull over," I replied.

Well he had other ideas and just slowed down a little.  I asked how much he intended to charge me and when he said 500 Baht (about 16 Canadian) I pretty much laughed out loud and said, "Not a chance!"

"Yes, yes, very far.  Forty kilometres," was his reply.

"It is not forty kilometres," I responded, waving my iphone at him so that he would understand that with the availability of modern conveniences such as google maps he was not going to be able to scam helpless tourists any longer.  But as he continued to argue (and drive) I weighed my options.  Tell him to pull over and let me out (and possibly not get my luggage) and then try to wave down another taxi at five in the morning, with the added stress of needing to get to the airport, or suck it up, admit defeat and pay the sixteen Canadian.

Just then I noticed the sign in the front with the cab license and driver's picture.  Thinking I would maybe take a picture of this and report the driver was my first reaction but then I noticed that the picture was of a fifty something dude and my driver barely looked like he had gotten his driver's license.  I decided, at this point, that it was in my best interest to just clam up and let him take me to the airport (I hoped) which was all of fourteen kilometres away.

Once we made it to the departure terminal I got out of the taxi and didn't say anything until he took my bags out of the trunk and placed them beside me.  I then said to my grinning driver, "Ok, what is the honest price?"

"Five hundred," he replied.

"I said, honest price,"

"Ok, four hundred," he countered, while grinning sheepishly.

I then pulled out two, one hundred Baht notes from my pocket, which I had stashed there during our very short ride to the airport, and held them out while beginning my very 'teacherish' lecture.

"I am giving you this," as I waved the cash at him, "and I am being very generous!"  I pointed to the picture of his uncle, father, unknown person who actually operated the taxi, and continued, "you are lucky I don't call the police,"  dramatically pointing to the airport security guard.  "It is not nice to cheat tourists," I admonished.

He must have felt thoroughly ashamed, or was afraid of the airport security, because he quickly bowed, took the two hundred Baht  (about $6.50 Canadian) and jumped in the taxi.

In hindsight, I suppose I shouldn't have been so hard on the fellow for trying to make a living considering an airport run to Mount Hope from my house would have been a whole lot more.  But the fact is, no matter where I go in the world, I hate it when people try to intentionally rip me off because they think I, or any tourist, has a lack of knowledge about prices, value, or distances.  Most of the time, after I have negotiated an honest fare, I will add a generous tip, but when someone tries to cheat me because they think I don't know any better, then I get riled!

Feeling very satisfied, I headed into the terminal to begin my thirty hour trek home.

Just as I side note, if you're ever in Bangkok, it is probably much less stressful to take the Airport Express Skytrain if possible.  Unfortunately, the first one didn't run until 6am which was too late for my flight.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear from you!