Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reverse Culture Shock

I'm back in the good 'ol U.S. of A. for a visit and I knew I wasn't in Bangkok anymore when I queued up in Passport Control at Chicago O'Hare Airport. When I moved toward the line, a crabby airport worker came over and bellowed at me to quickly move forward. I guess I've grown accustom to soft Thai voices and polite greetings. And most Thai people aren't usually in such a big rush.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tokyo Taxi

Taxi drivers wearing white gloves, glass partitions between the front and back seats of the cabs, and car doors that automatically open and close. Welcome to Tokyo taxis. Last week I was in Japan and I took a few cabs while I was there, but coming from Bangkok, it was hard to adjust to Tokyo's expensive cab fares. And it just wasn't as fun taking cabs that don't have Buddha and monk statuettes on the dashboard.                 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cautious Driver

I tried not to take it personal when the taxi driver quickly slipped on his face mask as he saw me, the foreigner, approaching. When I got in the cab, one of the first questions the cabby asked me was where I was from, and even though this is an inquiry I regularly get in Bangkok taxis, I couldn't help thinking that he wanted to check to see if I'm from North America, home of the dreaded swine flu. For a little harmless fun, I faked a couple of coughs. At least now he can believe he protected himself from a contagious foreign customer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Gang's All Here

Today, my taxi driver told me he and his father have been collecting Thai statuettes and amulets of Buddha, monks, and other important figures from Thai history for forty years. According to the cabby, every famous monk and style of Buddha is represented. What you see in the photo is only part of the collection. There are more on the dashboard and in the front, and he was wearing an amazing collection of amulets around his neck. Some of them are worth a fortune; the driver told me one is even valued at a million baht. As I stepped out of the taxi, the driver asked me if I wanted to buy one. I told him I need to take out a loan from the bank first.    

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Taxi Visors

Turn down the sun visors inside Bangkok taxis and you're liable to find an image of Buddha or a monk hanging from them. This is yet another place inside the cabs where religious images are displayed. Of course, the visors also help to block out the intense and scorching sun rays of Thailand, and sometimes the visors work well enough that you don't even need to wear your Ray-Bans.