Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Handicrafts in a Taxi

Considering Thailand's long tradition involving the creation of handicrafts, it's great to see that the practice of making things by hand continues. The driver of this taxi told me that the seat covers were crocheted by his teenage daughter. That might explain why they're bright pink and green with a few little flowers applied here and there.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thai Taxi Mullet

It's been a while since I've spotted a mullet in Bangkok, but today my taxi driver had his own version of one. As the saying goes, it's "business in the front and party in the back". Maybe that's a good combination for cabbies as they need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, but can still have fun on the job.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"We will develop and cultivate the liberation of mind by lovingkindness, 
make it our vehicle, make it our basis, stabilize it, 
exercise ourselves in it, and fully perfect it." 

- The Buddha

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sacred Kitsch

 
These days, little plastic animal characters seem to be as popular among Thai taxi drivers as statues of the Buddha and images of revered Thai monks. It's apparently a new form of worship that involves cutesy creatures whose heads bob from side to side.       

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Paris from the Passenger Seat

I just returned from Paris where I mostly took the Metro and walked, but there was one day I decided to take a "Taxi Parisien". I was curious how cabs in the City of Light differ from those in the City of Angels. Similar to the taxis in Bangkok, the cab had some trinkets hanging from the rearview mirror, including some wooden prayer beads, a small panda character, and a little green eiffel tower. However, the overall experience was unlike riding in a Thai taxi. First of all, the cabby in Paris did not need to ask me for directions like the drivers in Bangkok typically do. The other thing is that the Parisian cabby could speak perfect English as opposed to Thai taxi drivers who usually only know how to say, "Where you go?".

Friday, June 2, 2017

Toyota Toyota Toyota

Move over Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Patterns of Toyota emblems are the hot new thing. Well, at least that's what the driver of this Bangkok taxi wants to believe.                       

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Speed Limit Monk Statue


What's the solution to the problem of all the car accidents in Thailand? A talking Buddha statue, of course. Distributed under the name Phra Rod 2.0, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation with the help of one of Thailand's venerated monks, Phra Payom, created the speed limit monk statue to remind drivers to be mindful and cautious. Using a GPS tracker and speed detector, the good luck charm can detect different legal speed limits on most roads. If the driver puts the pedal to the metal, a short sermon from the monk will automatically play. Will it help to reduce the amount of car accidents here? I'm not sure. But who is going to want a regular Buddha statue when you can have one of these? 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Old School Air-Con

In hot and tropical Thailand, the locals can get pretty creative when it comes to finding ways to cool off. In the case of this taxi, the driver has rigged up a metal fan to keep the inside of his cab from overheating. Not only does the fan provide a breezy atmosphere in the back of the taxi, it helps create a nostalgic ambience that reminds passengers of an era before air-conditioners even existed.        

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Buddha's View

The world is full of busy people
well-versed in countless views
blind to their true natures
they get farther from the Way
if they could see what's real
they wouldn't talk about empty dreams
one thought answers your prayers
revealing a Buddha's view

- Cold Mountain (Han-shan), Tang Dynasty Poet 


Monday, April 24, 2017

You and Me

One English word every Thai taxi driver knows regardless of their level of fluency is "you". Cabbies here use this pronoun to get the attention of foreigners and to address anyone who doesn't look Thai. I've been called "you" so many times by taxi drivers in Thailand that I feel like it's become my nickname.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

80's Flashback

Upon entering a Bangkok taxi as a foreigner, the driver will inevitably switch on an English language music station. While you might occasionally hear international songs that are currently popular, chances are you will be taking a walk down memory lane as you listen to golden oldies. Today, the music on the radio in the taxi included a lineup of the greatest hits from the 80's. As I sat in the back seat staring at wolves on the sunshades, I had a feeling that we would soon be hearing Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Useful Tip

Is your job making you a little hot under the collar? Do your shirts have unsightly rings? If so, try this trick from one of Bangkok's finest cab drivers. First, take a scrap of light cotton cloth and cut it into a long rectangular piece. It can be any color and have a pattern as long as it coordinates with your shirt. Next, carefully fold the cloth over your collar. Finally, secure it with paper clips (4 or 5 should work). When the cloth gets sweaty, simply remove it and replace with a dry one. Repeat as many times during your shift as necessary.   

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Incredible Cabby

Considering that many talismans in Bangkok taxis are put there for the purpose of warding off evil spirits, I couldn't help but think that this Hulk figure on the dashboard is intended to be a warning of sorts. So, I was extra careful to be nice to this cabby. I didn't want him to turn into a raging green monster with bulging muscles behind the wheel. I had a feeling I wouldn't like him when he's angry.  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pure Mind

"If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts,
happiness follows them like a never-departing shadow."

- The Buddha

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cabbie Fashion Faux Pas

Let me start by saying that I'm all for people expressing their individuality and I often appreciate those daring enough to break the rules of fashion. But this hat, this hat, is the weirdest thing I've ever laid my eyes on. It's as if someone took a pink bathroom rug and molded it into the shape of a mushroom cap. What was the driver thinking when he put this on his head? How can he even look at himself in the mirror without feeling completely ridiculous? The look is so out of place, especially considering that he paired it with a normal shirt and jeans. The only way this hat might be passible is if he wore it with a shiny pink leopard-print suit and white patent leather boots.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Santa Taxi

Merry Christmas
 & Happy New Year 
from Bangkok!

May all your taxi rides be merry and bright!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Goddess of Rubber Duckies

From a Western perspective, placing three rubber duckies next to the image of a religious figure might seem inappropriate, blasphemous, or just downright funny. Some might even view this as the result of globalization or postmodernism. I decided to ask the taxi driver about his unconventional display on the dashboard and he explained that the celestial being in white is Guan Yim, the Goddess of Mercy, known for her compassion toward all creatures. Apparently, that includes duckies, too.    

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rest in Peace

Thailand's Beloved King
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej
5 December 1927 - 13 October 2016

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Sticky Rice Taxi

In Thailand, sticky rice is the equivalent of bread and butter. It's comforting, nourishing, and packed with carbohydrates, albeit plain and simple. Even the idea of an occupation being your "bread and butter" is translatable to Thai culture. If you see a kratip basket in a Bangkok taxi normally used for holding sticky rice, you'll know it's there to offer good luck on the job and to symbolize prosperity.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

“Conquer anger with non-anger. 
Conquer badness with goodness. 
Conquer meanness with generosity. 
Conquer dishonesty with truth.”

- The Buddha

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hello, Again.


 
Hello Kitty, the kawaii feline character, has long made a guest appearance in Bangkok cabs. In the past week alone, I spotted this Sanrio-brand cat in seven different taxis. Why is this character so popular among Thai cabbies you ask? Considering that Hello Kitty has no mouth and is expressionless, maybe the drivers are hinting to their passengers that they should keep quiet and remain calm while riding in their vehicles.        

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It is better to conquer yourself
 than to win a thousand battles. 
Then the victory is yours. 
It cannot be taken from you, 
not by angels or by demons, 
heaven or hell.

 - The Buddha

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bugging Out in a Bangkok Cab

You never know what you're going to find in a Bangkok cab. It most often involves a pleasant surprise, but occasionally it turns out to be a disturbing affair. When I hopped into this taxi, the first thing I noticed were the exoskeletons from a certain kind of critter affixed to the ceiling in a marching formation. After the driver told me what kind of insects they were in Thai, I did a bit of searching on my smartphone and figured out that they were cicadas, the type of bug that makes loud buzzing noises. I've definitely heard them at certain times of the year here in Thailand, but I had never been so close to them before. Despite a long conversation with this cabby about bugs, I'm still not clear why he collects and displays them in his cab. All I know is that it made my skin crawl for the rest of the day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Santa on Holiday


Season's Greetings from Thailand where old Santa Claus loves to spend the off-season. Here you'll find Father Christmas water skiing, surfing, swimming, chilling out at the beach, and riding orca whales. How does he get here, you ask? Well, he flies to Thailand in his UFO, of course.  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Because He's Happy

Have you ever noticed how some people resemble cartoon characters? Today, my Bangkok taxi driver had all the hallmarks of the Minions. He was sporting bright yellow and blue along with "goggles", and he seemed very happy just like Bob the Minion hanging in his cab. But unlike the animated characters, he is in service to regular people, like me, not commanding super villains. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thai Summertime

We're in the midst of the hot season here in Thailand. There are two ways one can deal with it. You can either complain incessantly about the flaming heat as sweat drips down your back, or if you're in Bangkok, you can hop in a taxi with air-conditioning on full blast. In either case, it's important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and it's better to wear loose, cotton garments. For a little summer fun, pop on a flowered Hawaiian shirt like the cabbie in the picture below and embrace the hot, tropical setting. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hong Kong Taxis

 
I just returned from a trip to Hong Kong where getting around is easy. They have quite a range of public transportation options available, including the subway, ferries, trams, double decker buses, cable cars, and taxis. The cabs in Hong Kong remind me of those in Tokyo as they also use older Toyotas and as the doors open automatically, too. Not surprisingly, the starting fares are higher than in Bangkok, but the meters don't increase as rapidly, so when all is said and done, the fares are pretty comparable to those in Thailand. Some Hong Kong taxis also have Buddhist amulets and other decorations on their dashboards. This, of course, makes me feel right at home.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Health is the greatest gift, 
contentment the greatest wealth, 
faithfulness the best relationship.
- The Buddha

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Thai Checkered Cab

Pha Khao Ma, a type of rectangular woven cloth with checkered or striped designs, have been utilized in Thailand for hundreds of years. Traditionally, they are worn by men as sarongs, wrapped around the head or neck, and are sometimes used as towels or to carry things. Today, the cloth has also been adapted for modern usage in the form of tote bags, throw pillows, and book covers, and occasionally you can even find them in Bangkok taxis.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Magical Taxi

When you buy a new car in Thailand, the first thing you need to do is have a Buddhist monk bless the vehicle. This involves a ceremony where the monk creates a yantra, or yan as it's known in Thai, by drawing lines and dots, as well as adding squares of gold leaf on the ceiling or other surfaces in the car. Each yantra contains certain magical spells that protect the driver and the car, and each design is unique. I don't mean to sound blasphemous, but this one in the taxi today reminds me of the famous Disney castle with fireworks going off above it. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cabby Cushion

Tonight in the taxi, my driver was wearing one of those neck cushion thingys that some passengers like to wear on airplanes. I've never seen another Bangkok cabby wear one before. Did he just arrive back in Bangkok after a long flight? Was he planning on taking a nap during his shift? Maybe it was a gift from one of his regular customers. Or perhaps, as a result of his poor driving skills which I experienced first hand, he was suffering from a serious case of whiplash.    

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chinese New Year

谨祝新年快乐幸福,大吉大利。
Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!