Monday, October 25, 2010

License Renewed

When I got in the taxi today and saw the driver's taxi license photo with blue markings on it, I asked the cabbie about it. I figured that his kid probably did it or that it was some kind of joke. Instead the cabbie told me that he had recently grown a beard and mustache and got glasses and he thought he should update his photo. Why make a special trip to the Ministry of Transportation and pay them for a new license when you can do it yourself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Gambler

Most forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand. But you'd never know it. Many Thais regularly gamble. Here boxing, soccer, snooker, cock-fighting and horse racing almost always involves betting. There's even an underground lottery and I have a several Thai friends that have a "bookie". Many Thai people also patronize casinos in Cambodia, Burma, or Laos just across the border. The cabbie driving this taxi with stickers of playing cards and dice on his window told me he often goes to illegal casinos. He offered to take me to one, but I decided that I didn't want to get into a potentially dangerous situation. Considering the type of characters that own these joints, I'd rather not gamble with my own life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thirsty Ghost

If you see an open beverage in a Bangkok taxi with a straw in it, don't assume that it's for the driver. It could be an offering to the gods. In Thailand, votives commonly include drinks. I asked the cabbie why he chose this particular yogurt beverage and he told me that it's for Gu Man Tong, the Thai ghost child who enjoys this type of refreshment. I looked around the taxi for a statue of the ghost kid, but I only saw images of Thai monks. So I asked him where he keeps the phantom and he replied that he's never seen him, but he hopes Gu Man Tong will appear one day and take a sip. As I rode along in the cab, I prayed to myself that this isn't the day the ghost will haunt the taxi.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Perfect Imperfection

In Bangkok taxis, even cracks in windshields can receive decorative treatments. The driver of this cab could have used utilitarian tape or clear glue to patch the fissure, but instead highlighted the crack by sticking suction cups in alternating colors over it. Perhaps this remedy could be viewed metaphorically as a lesson on how to deal with quandaries in life. Rather than hiding issues or throwing out problems altogether, we should learn to celebrate imperfections and turn flaws into something wonderful.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rhinestone Cabbie

The Thai aesthetic calls for superfluous embellishments, frills, and garnishes. Here the notion of "plain and simple" is rarely considered an option. Accessorizing is a way of life for most Thais, and Bangkok taxi drivers are no exception. Most of them can't live without decorations in their cabs and a little bling in their wardrobe. The taxi driver in this photo is all about sparkles. Not only were his sunglasses bejeweled with rhinestones, but the cubic zirconia rings on his fingers also glittered in the sunlight and his t-shirt had shimmering sequins on it.