Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mon(k)ey Bags

Most Bangkok taxi drivers believe that the gods and other religious idols can help them bring in cold hard cash. In the case of this sticker on the taxi window, the mischievous monkey god, Hanuman, is depicted with a sack of loot that he will share with the driver. Obviously the person who designed this decal took some artistic license. As far as I know, there's no part in The Ramayana, the classic Indian epic in which Hanuman appears, where he absconds with a bag of Thai baht.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Disco Cab Fever

video

The other night, I hopped in a cab in downtown Bangkok and before I knew what was happening, the driver popped in a music video and turned on strobe lights. As we drove down the street with dance music pumping and colored lights flashing, it felt like we were in the hottest night club in the city. The best part is that there were no outrageous cover charges, rude bouncers, or overpriced watered-down cocktails.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lady Available

The driver of this taxi wants to make sure that every potential passenger knows about her gender and feminine character by advertising that she is a lady on a sign facing out the front windshield. She believes that being a woman taxi driver is an advantage in this city and that she is a novelty due to the scarcity of them here. She told me that many of her female passengers have expressed their preference for lady cab drivers. She also mentioned that she has many male customers, but she admitted to being single. So, I joked with her that her illuminated red wahng sign, meaning "available" in English, already publicizes her marriage status.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Heart of Gold

It's common to hear complaints about Thai cabbies, so today it was refreshing to read a story about one taxi driver in Bangkok who did a good deed by returning $410,000 US dollars worth of gold jewelry to a passenger who left it behind in his cab. The owner of the jewelry is a gold seller who bought 289 ounces of the precious metal earlier in the day and forgot it in the cab when he was helping his wife out of the car. Oops. Upon return of the jewelry, the owner rewarded the taxi driver by giving him two gold necklaces worth $10,000 US dollars. If you come across a Bangkok cabby wearing a lot of bling, it might just be our hero in the story.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Holy Taxi

Less than one percent of Thais are Christian, so it's uncommon to see images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and other idols like these in Bangkok taxis. On the left is a representation of St. Christopher on an enameled medal, who, similar to certain venerated Thai monks, is believed to offer safety to travelers on their journeys. And hopefully, St. Mary will also pray for us that we won't encounter any bad traffic jams ever again.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cabby Credos

While most Bangkok cabbies follow the teachings of the Buddha, the driver of this taxi abides by the slogan of WWE wrestler, John Cena, "Hustle Loyalty Respect". There are obviously some major differences between the philosophies of the Buddha and those of a pro wrestler. One of the main objectives of the Buddha was to find an end to suffering, but the goal of wrestlers is to create the illusion that they are inflicting pain on their opponents.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Home Away

As a majority of taxi drivers in Bangkok come to work here from other parts of Thailand, there are many cabbies in this city who are kittung bahn, or literally in English, missing home. A lot of these drivers only have the chance to travel back to their province a couple of times per year to visit their family. As a result, it's common to see pictures of mom and pop in Bangkok cabs. And every once in a while, you'll even find photos in taxis of drivers' pet buffalos back home.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dealer on Wheels

Need to sell your house in Bangkok? Want to buy some property in Thailand? How about snapping up a hotel in Pattaya? "No problem," according to my taxi driver today. As an unlicensed broker, he claims that he can find buyers and sellers for any type of real estate or property. And if you need a huge loan to buy a resort, "no problem". This cabby can hook you up with a loan shark. Never mind that they will hunt you down and break your kneecaps if you don't repay them on time.