I arrived in Bangkok, hustled through customs and pulled out a little cash at the ATM. I wasn’t quite sure the Baht to Dollar ratio, so I pulled out 1000 Baht. (Turns out the ratio is 30 Baht to a Dollar, so I had about 30$) I made my way outside to get a taxi, at 11 pm the taxi line was about 30 people deep. A man came up beside me and asked if I was looking for a taxi, I said yes. He said, here follow me I have a taxi and you won’t have to wait in line. I handed him my paper with my hotel name and address on it. I asked how much, he said “I know where that is, 800 Baht”. From previous internet searches I knew the taxi ride should be about 500, but I wouldn’t have to wait in line and that was a bonus. We began to walk together. We walked past the big parking lot and into a further away parking lot. This was seeming like more and more of a bad idea. We walked further. He led me to his taxi where his girlfriend was sleeping in the front seat. The spooky music got a little louder in my head. I got in the car anyway. He introduced me to his girlfriend and started the car. We drove for a bit and he said that he needed to get gas. We stopped at a large filling station, with lots of taxi cabs filling up. He turned to me and said he would need the money now. “I’ll take 800 baht now and then you give me 500 when we get there.” I really did not have that much Baht on me. “No, I only have 800.” I felt pretty confident that if he kicked me out here I would have no trouble finding another taxi cab. He replied with “ok ok” and took the 800 and left to fill up the car. (Which by the way they fill the car up by lifting the hood and filling through the engine.) His girlfriend and I sat in silence, her English was not so good and my Thai was worse. My cabbie returned after 5 minutes or he had treats for his girlfriend and away we went. He assured me he knew exactly where we were going. We turned out onto the main road and he stepped on the gas. I noticed a couple of things, first, if the car in front of him put on his brakes, he did not apply the brake. He continued to drive at his pace and just swerved moments before hitting the car in front of him. Second he drove straddling two lanes almost the entire time. Both of these actions made me look for my seat belt. When I found the belt there was no receptacle to click it into. It was at that moment that all traffic slowed, there had been an accident, two cabs and a Honda. My Cabbie just giggled “heeehehee two taxis” and sped off. If I had thought he had been driving recklessly before, I hadn’t seen anything yet. After we passed the accident he turned up the radio, munched on one of his snacks, chatted with his girlfriend, mashed the gas, swerved with traffic and smoked a cigarette. I gripped the edge of my seat a little tighter. He asked me for the sheet of paper with my hotel on it. He pulled out his cellphone (while still doing all those other things) and called my hotel. He talked back and forth for a minute with them, hung up and said “okay I know where we are going”. The drive continued as it had for the past 15 minutes, swerving, munching, mashing buttons and accelerating. I felt slightly better that he might not murder me, but still was concerned that I would not arrive in one piece. When we got off the highway I noticed that there were very few traffic lights and a lot of intersection similar to roundabouts, except not a roundabout and no traffic light. I do not understand how he knew it was okay to pull out into traffic. After a few more jukes and jives we pull up to an alley and he says “here we are”. Skeptically I looked out the window and down the alley, it is dark. With some squinting I could see the banner of the hotel at the very end. I got out of the Taxi and was instantly hit with a strong smell that I could only guess was sewage. He hands me my bags, we say our goodbyes and I roll my things toward the banner of my hotel.
Let the adventure begin.