Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Buddha's Footprints

Images of the Buddha's footprints, or Buddhapada, are a symbol commonly found inside Bangkok taxis. According to Buddhist legend, his footsteps created impressions in stone after his enlightenment. Another story contends that the Buddha took seven steps when he was an infant to represent his spiritual power. This emblem also reminds followers, including Thai cabbys, that the Buddha entered nirvana and is no longer present in the physical world. And according to this taxi driver, the design on his sticker symbolizes his taxi moving forward despite traffic jams and road construction.      

Monday, January 21, 2013

Passenger No. 1

When I got into the taxi the other day it had an overpowering new car smell, so I asked the driver about his cab and as it turns out, I was his very first passenger ever. He had just picked up the taxi from the company and a monk had just blessed his vehicle with a yan drawing on the ceiling. At one point during the ride, the cabby commented that we were both lucky. Indeed I felt that it was truly a remarkable occurrance. It's not everyday that you get to be the first customer in a brand new taxi.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thai Flower Power

The red sticker on the taxi window makes me think about roselle juice, a traditional Thai herbal tea made from hibiscus flowers. It's delicious and it has many health benefits. It can be used as a natural diuretic and it contains vitamin C and minerals. Some say that it can even lower blood pressure, and the way the cabby was driving, I could have used a few cups.     

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Young at Heart

Today is National Children's Day, or Wan Dek as it is known in Thai. It's a day to celebrate youthfulness and to appreciate children. Today, there are many special activities for kids and for those who are young at heart. Some Thai adults just can't help delighting in things for tykes, including this taxi driver who collects stuffed knit characters with googly eyes.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Buggy Buggy

In Thailand, we grow our insects big. We have dragonflies as large as small birds and certain types of butterflies here are the size of a not-so-mini iPad. This grasshopper in the taxi made out of painted palm leaves is no exception. It's huge. According to the driver, it's supposed to bring good luck, but for me, all I think about are the times when annoying gargantuan bugs flew inside my car and couldn't get out.      

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dragon Driver

After I wished my Chinese-Thai taxi driver Happy 2013, he reminded me that Chinese New Year is February 10th and that this is still Dragon year. He also mentioned that he was born under this sign which explains the handblown glass knickknack in the form of a dragon on his dashboard. Then he proceeded to describe in detail all of his personality traits that he attributes to the year in which he was born. Considering that Dragons tend to have a big ego and like to be the center of attention, I shouldn't have been surprised that he wanted to talk about himself the entire time I was in his cab.   

Friday, January 4, 2013

Something Fishy

When I hopped in the taxi today, I was immediately bombarded with a funky odor emanating from the front seat. Was the smell left over from the last passenger's groceries or hadn't the driver showered in days? After chatting with the cabby for a while, however, I learned that he had just eaten somtum plaa-ra (green papaya salad with fermented fish) in his taxi. Granted, this is a staple in the diet of many taxi drivers, including this one, who hail from Isaan, the northeastern region of Thailand. But does he really need to eat it in his cab?