The rest of this post is NSFMD (Not Safe For My Dad), but as he doesn’t read my blawg, it’s actually NSFPWAGTTMD (Not Safe For People Who Are Going To Tell My Dad). Nobody likes a snitch (Mom).
One of the cool things about Bangkok is the number of ways you can get around the city.
And of course, the ubiquitous motorcycle taxi.
In Bangkok, you can usually get a regular taxi to take you where you want to go (uh…sometimes, anyway), but the meter drops at 35 baht (a little over $1) and you can rack up a decent tab just going around the corner. Believe me, I’ve done it. (I was sick! I don’t normally take cabs around the corner!)
The thing is, traffic in Bangkok sucks. Bad. It makes the Beltway in Washington, D.C. look like a speedway, and that’s saying something. Sometimes it’s just simpler to grab a motorcy and zip around the cars.
The drivers are easy to spot because they’re everywhere, they sit on motorcycles, and they wear bright vests that designate what area they’re working in. If you miss them, you’re not looking very hard.
I’m usually pretty lazy in the morning. When I first came to Thailand I refused to take a motorcycle because I was a little nervous and also thought walking to the train would be good for me. Now I realize I was a total fool.
10-minute walk to the train station?
No, sir. I’ll take the 3-minute death-defying motorcycle ride to the train station, thank you very much. And please note: I ride sidesaddle, baby, and motorcycle taxis don’t offer you helmets. Praying you’re not going to spill your tea, fall off the seat and/or crash into a car is a good way to get the adrenaline flowing in the morning! Wakes you right up!
Here’s a video of what it’s like to ride to the train in the morning:
On a motorcycle, you can zip right around traffic and give all the cars the bird in your head. You can (not legally) go on the sidewalk, which totally pisses me off as a pedestrian, but thrills me as a passenger. You can get where you want to go, and you can get there fast, provided you don’t have a horrible, disfiguring accident before you arrive.
For me, the most annoying aspect of motorcycles is negotiating a price (before you get on the bike, people!) since there’s no meter. Sometimes I don’t know how far away something is, so I get ripped off when I accept a price and then we go 3 minutes to the destination. Sometimes I know how much a ride should be and the drivers try to charge me more anyway and then ride off (without me) when I offer the correct price.
I always end up in a rage when this happens. I can’t help it. I’m not a fan of jackassery. It makes me furious.
p.s. I have learned that there is talk about having motorcycle taxis use meters. We shall see…
My biggest smackdown in motorcycle riding was learning to ride sidesaddle. It was a big, big step because it is really, really frightening. You can see Thai women riding sidesaddle, looking all Burberry picnic (bored, for those of you not in the know), talking on the phone, balancing in a teensy little skirt on the back of a motorcycle without flashing anything, and looking for all the world like it’s no big deal. Like, Oh, hi, I’m riding on the back of a motorcycle and I could fall to my death, but who cares?
When I ride sidesaddle, I have to take some time to situate myself, usually spilling tea on my pants in the process, to the amusement and bemusement of the driver, who is waiting kind of impatiently for me. Then I have to slouch down to keep my balance, and I always keep a death grip on the bar at the back of the seat. Also, I have big ol’ feet, so I’m always worried they’re going to get caught in the wheel, and that would be a really horrible way to die. Think about it, but not too hard if you’re my mother. I try to look all Burberry picnic when I’m riding, but I’m sure I look more Jurassic Park picnic (terrified and trying not to die, though not usually running from dinosaurs).
Motorcycle Taxis: 0 Megan : 1
I mean, I haven’t fallen off one yet, right? And even though I get ripped off sometimes, I’m still smacking it down. Be nice to me, motorcycle drivers!