On the road from Cambodia to Thailand
08.08.2010 - 09.08.2010 0 °C
During five months travelling round SE Asia I have met way too many dodgy lowlife taxi drivers. As these are often the first people you meet when arriving in a new country sometimes first impressions of a place can be unfairly tainted. Think I have heard them all by now, trying to fleece as much dosh as possible from the unsuspecting traveller. ‘Meter not working’, ‘whoops forgot to put it on’, ‘I need to charge meter x2 as i will have to return back here empty’, lets go the long way round. I had my own methods of damage limitation. Any meter debates, just get out and jump in the next cab, use the map application on iphone to track where they are taking you and when they ask always tell them you are married and a regular church goer (no I am not some easy woman travelling on my own!!). This guy in Bangkok though took the biscuit.
After an epic time in Cambodia it was time to hit the road again, heading down to Indonesia where I was meeting Scott for a bit of a holiday. I took the bus from Battembang to the Thai border at Poipet, then another bus all the way to Bangkok. This took all day but was made more interesting by having some great company, a couple from Belgium who remember seeing me doing the cooking class at the smoking pot while they were having lunch! I had been in and out of Bangkok several times during these travels and, as I was flying out real early the next morning to Bali, was staying in my favourite stopover hotel near the airport, the one where i had previously recovered from my Burma experience. The bus dropped us in the city and immediately we were bombarded by taxi driver touts. Easy peasy, Mr Jampa (!), the first guy i spoke to knew where i wanted to go and agreed to use the meter, sorted. Well, that is what i thought. As it started to rain, we made a quick dash to the cab. The guy turns round to me knowing it would have been difficult to now find another cab in the torrential rain and says ‘meter would be more expensive, it is a long way, you pay 600 bahts and i pay the toll charges’. Anyone who has been to Bangkok will know that there is a lovely fast toll road taking you to the airport. There are alternative routes but take much longer. ‘No, we agreed you would use meter’ I insisted. Without saying a word he drove off. I am pretty sure he had put the meter on but when i next looked it had been turned off. I could feel my blood start to boil but knew it was best not to make a scene, after all i am a lone female traveller and safety comes first.
On goes the iphone map application to make sure we were heading in the right direction. I quickly discovered that he was avoiding going through the tolls so he didn’t have to pay. He just kept turning round and saying ‘See this is such a long way, long way, long way’ ‘yes you bleepin' idiot, it is a long way because you are avoiding the tolls so it is a longer way and you can justify overcharging me and at the same time avoiding the toll fees’ I felt like saying this out loud but just about kept my composure. We drive for about an hour, Mr Jampa is looking a bit flustered. We are blimmin lost! He asks me to phone the hotel and find out how to get there! Thats it, I am too angry and very very tired from being on the road all day. I lose my rag ‘you told me you knew where we were going and you agreed to use the meter, this is ridiculous’. Luckily I had been tracking on my phone so directed him to my hotel but he insisted my directions were wrong and turned in at a hotel with a similar name. I knew this was the wrong place but he just kept insisting it was right. He even shook my hand enthusiastically 'see my friend I did know how to find hotel' MY FRIEND THIS IS NOT MY BLIMMIN HOTEL!!! At this point i really needed to get out before i really lost it so paid the extortionate price and got my bags. ‘No tip?’ he asks ‘NO TIP?’ ‘Are you bloody serious????’ Surely, noooooo ‘No bloody way’ was my reply. He actually looked hurt! After asking the bellboy at the hotel how i would get to my actual hotel, they insisted i got back in the cab with Mr Jampa. I told them what a rip-off merchant he was but somehow i ended up back in the cab. We didn’t say a word to each other, he knew i had reached the end of my fuse. Having received directions from the bellboy he drove me straight to my hotel and really surprisingly didn’t try and get any more money out of me! To be honest, i think if he had tried I would have exploded.....
Mood didn’t improve when i realised that i had to be up at 3.30am the next morning for my flight. Oh the joys of being on the road....
Footnote: This is version 2 as I had to go through and delete one or two profanities!