Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Taxi Spirit

I have the goose bumps just thinking about it. The other night I took a taxi very late and the driver insisted on telling ghost stories the entire time. Apparently he has seen ghosts. IN HIS TAXI! Not knowing how to react and feeling completely scared out of my wits, I decided to try and distract myself by snapping photos of the amulets in the cab. Unfortunately, I think my photo-taking further conjured up whatever was in the car. In every photo taken in the taxi that night there are mysterious glowing orbs of light... 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cultural Investment

I wonder how many baht I've spent riding in Bangkok taxis over the past six years.  On average, I take five or six taxis a week with fares ranging from sixty baht to one hundred and fifty baht. I don't even want to do the math! If I had taken local buses all this time, I could have probably saved enough money to buy my own vehicle or a small village in Isaan. On the other hand, I should consider my taxi rides an investment in my education of Thai culture. Where else would I learn so much about Thai beliefs and superstitions?      

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Soothing Monk

Today, when I took a taxi and was stuck in traffic and at seemingly never-ending red lights, I wanted to jump out of the car or tell the cabby to lay on the horn. For most of the ride, I sat in the back seat fidgeting and feeling restless. But then I glanced at the monk statuette in the taxi and I immediately calmed down. As I looked at the peaceful meditating monk, I realized that I needed to re-think my own attitude. I wonder if Bangkok taxi drivers keep monk statuettes like this one in their cabs to remind themselves to be laid back.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Taxi Foliage

I asked my taxi driver about these leaves in the back of his cab assuming he would give me some insight on how monks use them in sacred rituals or how they're supposed to bring luck. Instead the cabbie started talking about food as these leaves are also used in Thai cooking. The leaves come from pandan, a tropical herbaceous plant, and are used in several Thai desserts, drinks, and savory treats. The flavor is sweet and fresh, and very distinct, and it's supposed to be good for your health. If you see a dessert in Thailand that's green in color, there's a chance it may have been made with pandan because the leaves are also used to dye food green. Either that or the dessert has gone bad.      

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taxi Bling

In Thailand, we're crazy about glittery, sparkly things. We love our temples to shimmer with gold and colored mirrors, and we love jewelry and baubles with bling. I asked the taxi driver about his flashy pendant and he told me a customer had accidentally left it behind. Personally, I think it would look better attached to a rapper's chunky necklace than dangling from Buddhist prayer beads.   

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sacred Compartment

It's not often that you see sacred monk writing on the glove compartment of Bangkok taxis.  Usually, it's on the ceiling.  For some reason, the monk who blessed this taxi thought this was a good place to add the curly script. Maybe the driver keeps a sacred relic inside this little chamber.  Or maybe the monk wrote on the glove compartment because the ceiling is already completely covered with stickers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yoo Hoo!

You! Yes, you! Come over here! I'm the Thai goddess, Nang Gwak. Give me your money! Patronize my business! Take a ride in my cab! Please? 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fuzzy Wuzzy Pillow

Thais love to accessorize. And Bangkok taxi drivers are no exception. Not only do they adore fancy embellishments on the dashboard, but they also have a weakness for furry head cushions.  Ranging from fuzzy pillows decorated with American or British flags to fluffy pink pillows with Hello Kitty emblazoned on them, they're a common sight in the cabs of this city. In the case of this cab, the single pink furry head pillow was not enough for the driver. Oh no. It was only a small part of a larger collection of furry items in the back window, including a giant Hello Kitty pillow, two Piglet pillows, and a hot pink fuzzy tissue holder.          

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good Goddess

Robed in pure white and sometimes depicted on a lotus flower, the goddess Guan Yin is worshiped throughout Asia, including Thailand. Admired for her kindness, mercy, and unconditional love, many believe she can relieve suffering. And due to her compassion toward all living things, she's associated with vegetarianism. This particular goddess doesn't appear in Bangkok cabs very often, but when you see her on the dashboard, you can usually trust that the driver is good-natured and kind-hearted just like Guan Yin.