The Biker And The Cabby
I've been living in Thailand for a little over 5 years and have only just discovered your site. I read the submission "Hijacked: One Night in Bangkok" and would like to submit a similar story.
I ride a (fairly big) motorcycle in Bangkok and, as you all know, although it isn't the safest way to get about, it certainly is the quickest. I've been riding bikes for over 25 years (over 4 in years Bangkok), so I think I know what I'm doing.
I've had little bumps and scary moments (on a daily basis), so I've become quite complacent towards the traffic and the associated dangers.
One day, just a couple of weeks ago I was negotiating a line of cars, which were waiting behind a car turning right. I rode on the outside until I was behind the car turning right, then I went around the back and up the inside (if you know what I mean). My leg, not the bike, made very brief contact with the front bumper of the taxi at the head of the queue. He pressed his horn, but that's not uncommon and I continued on my way. It was about 3:15 in the afternoon.
The apparently irate taxi driver chased me up the road, sounding his horn and gesticulating for me to stop. Although I could have quite easily have lost him in the traffic, I stopped, feeling more than a little upset at his demeanour. (Bangkok traffic (or drivers?) breeds aggression.)
He stopped in front of me and got out, appearing pretty upset. I steeled myself for the inevitable confrontation and walked up to him. He was shouting something so I replied in a raised voice with "Mee ban hah arai?" He suddenly realised that I was not some short arse who would crumble in his very presence and so, being the sort that he is, he immediately dived into his car, rummaged under the driver's seat and produced a machete.
Hmm. I don't pretend to be a tough guy but I'm not stupid either. An extremely minor incident had suddenly developed into an extremely dangerous situation. Faced with an irate Thai taxi driver, wielding an 18-inch long blade in my face, I decided
that perhaps, discretion might be the better part of valour after all.
He was shouting, waving his knife and pointing to the front of his taxi. I shouted back, (now from 20 yards away) that it was only my leg that touched the bumper and he could see there was no damage. Of course, several people had stopped to watch the commotion and I suddenly felt very vulnerable. I know from experience what can happen if a situation is allowed to get out of hand (that's another story), so, I pulled my mobile out and entered his taxi registration number. I then dialled 191 with the intention of calling the police. On seeing my telephone, the taxi driver leaped back into his car and sped off.
I returned to my bike, quite shaken, but relieved that I hadn't been hurt. I hadn't actually called the police. Again, experience has taught me what the most likely outcome would've been if I had called them.
Anyway, I waited a few minutes before continuing on my journey. I caught up with the taxi, but decided against trying to pass him. I arrived back home safely and considered myself luckier than usual for surviving the Bangkok traffic one more time.
My advice if you think you want to argue with a taxi driver? Or any Thai driver for that matter?
Don't. Because it isn't worth your life.
There was that incident last year (?) when the two teachers got in a dispute with a taxi driver and he smashed one of them with something and the guy either lost sight in one eye, or is totally blind. I cant remember the exact details, but it sure was nasty. Yeah, one does have to be careful around these guys…