Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Motor-taxi of Doom: Bangkok

By Liane Nichols


Today I began my adventure of backpacking it around Thailand. My first stop was Bangkok to visit a friend for the night, and from there I would head out early morning to catch a bus to Krabi. Little did I know, I was in for one hell of a ride.  

It was Thursday morning. I took the BTS toward Victory Monument. My research online as to how to get to Southern Terminal had pointed me in this direction. It was wrong. After leaving the BTS, I quickly flagged down a motor taxi (a motorcycle that drives you around Bangkok) and said "Chimplee - Southern Terminal" like my online directions had told me to do. The driver said "Okay - 80 baht". I had been told it would be this much - things were going to plan quite well. I hopped on. 

That's when the driver turned around and started dodging oncoming traffic. I was frightened, but after living in Thailand for 5 months, I knew this was not uncommon. I held on tightly. Eventually we made it to the correct side of the road and I began to relax. However, that's when the driver kept asking others where this "Southern Terminal" was. He had no clue. None. Nada. I started to worry. After weaving in and out of traffic, taking off, slamming on breaks, and a few near misses, we eventually found a man who seemed to know where to go...and he said it was far. Very far. 

Now the driver turned to me and said "Oh, very far. 400 Baht." No way, Jose! I eventually talked him down to 250baht. I didn't know exactly how far "far" meant and didn't want to get ripped off on my very first day of adventuring! That's when something odd happened. The driver handed me a helmet and took off his taxi driver vest. Where were we going?! As if dodging traffic and speeding down side roads wasn't dangerous enough - now it seemed he believed that where ever we were going was far worse and I needed protection. Yet I held on. Why, I'm not entirely sure. I had come this far with the driver; I figured I could survive a bit longer. 

The end result was an hour drive back and forth around Bangkok and eventually seeing the glorious sign that read "SOUTHERN TERMINAL". I think I almost cried in relief. When carrying a 50 lbs backpack and holding on like any second might be your last, your body has a tendency to seize up. I was quite surprised when I was actually able to stand up and walk when I departed from the bike's back seat. Every inch of me wanted to fall off. I'm pretty sure that my thigh muscles have been strained due to excessive gripping of the sides of the motorcycle. 

Alas, I am safe. I have a bus ticket that will take me to Krabi, Thailand. I will soon be in paradise, so why worry?

And that's my story.

No comments:

Post a Comment