musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia


In the Letters to the Editor section of the Bangkok Post this week there was another snarky letter by some grumpy expat complaining about Bangkok taxi drivers, calling them the worst he’s ever encountered. Really? I swear, some of these farang living in Thailand, or perhaps visiting our kingdom, seem to thrive on complaining about things. Thais can’t do this, they screw up that, things aren’t as good as in my country, these people are bad, why can’t they improve this … blah blah blah. The proverbial broken record, the same shit over and over again. So leave already!

Taxi drivers are easy targets, and passengers love to complain about them, but honestly I have mostly very favorable experiences, both with regular taxi cabs and especially with motorcycle taxis here in Bangkok. Being able to speak some Thai helps the communication factor, so maybe that’s one reason I get along so well with these guys, but I really don’t understand why Bangkok taxis get such a bad rep. Most of them are just hard-working down-to-earth dudes from upcountry trying to eek out a living here in the big, crazy city. I know if I had to drive the chaotic streets of this city for any length of time I’d be completely frazzled and on edge all of the time. So I can certainly excuse the occasional taxi driver who doesn’t smile or doesn’t want to take me across town in rush hour traffic, or is disappointed that I’m not taking his taxi from the airport to Pattaya. Put yourself in their shoes. Hell, if I was driving a taxi, I’d probably turn down 90% of the freaks wanting a ride. Next!


I almost always have very interesting conversations with the taxi drivers in Bangkok. They are a curious bunch and are eager to bombard me with a variety of questions. It can range from simple things like asking where I come from and what am I doing in Thailand, to my opinion of Thai women, Thai food, and lately, World Cup Football teams. And a lot of them play pretty cool music in their taxi too, mostly Thai mor lam or luk toong tunes. I love checking out their little Buddha shrines or smelling the fragrant flowers that some of them stick on the dashboard. Thai taxis are their own separate little world.


I was in Kuala Lumpur last week and had very favorable experiences with the taxi drivers there too. Over there, you get more of a racial mix; Muslim Malays, Chinese Malays, Indian Malays, and a few that could be from other South Asian countries. But they are also eager to talk and I find them to be very friendly and honest for the most part. One guy that took me to the train station at KL Sentral last week ended up thanking me after our conversation, and parting with the words; “Good Luck, brother.” You couldn’t help but smile!


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