Friday, June 28, 2013

Travelogue: A wild cab ride!

To our surprise our ‘expert’ friend was in the room; we paid for our room and went up the stairs (2 people per room); no elevator here. For baggage they had a large mechanical cage where they placed the bags and sent it up to our floor. The room was small but cozy – two beds, one tv, one small fridge, an ac and a small attached bathroom with shower. There was also a little balcony. I was happy that it was clean and there were no signs of insects – in some hotels we had read reviews warning us about bed bugs; quite a torture they can be. I jumped into the shower and struggled with the hot water; in the end only managed to get warm water.

By 7pm, all four of us were fresh after a nap. Our ‘expert’ was no longer sick – he felt fresh.
“The medicine he gave is great,” he said referring to the Thai pharmacist who prescribed a bunch of tablets.
“And I got my sunglasses. The pharmacist kept it in the front; as soon as I entered I saw it.”
I had heard that Thai people are honest. Sometime later, we were out on the street. We went to the main road and decided to take a cab to Asiatique mall. It was dark and there were cars whizzing by the main road. We tried to flag down a few but no one stopped. We then crossed the road and tried from the other side because we saw a few people get cabs there. Communication was a problem. And the bigger problem was that we hadn’t checked how far Asiatique was from our place.

The ride

Finally we did get a cab and the driver did understand Asiatique. After a little price haggling we settled on 200 Bahts. What we had read was to always ask the driver to put the meter and never set a price. But having struggled to even stop one cab, and running out of time, we went against the principle.
The drive was a long one and I was unfortunately stuck in the front seat beside the driver, on his left.

This guy wasn’t too friendly and unfortunately he spoke some English. He asked how long we are here and tried to zero in on the hotel we were staying at but we evaded that question. We were getting suspicious of the guy. He said he’ll take us to Pattaya whenever we wanted and quoted 1800 Baht. That was way too high and that too without the toll fee. He kept arguing and was adamant to strike a deal. He tried negotiating and then when we mentioned bus, he said buses will cost more.
“I take you to bus station. You ask.”
“No no. Go to Asiatique,” we told him.

I decided to switch off speaking and just waved away all subsequent offers. He was getting hot by the minute; I knew his temper was rising from his voice. He made a call on his mobile and started narrating something about us and referred quite often to ‘Indians’. For a minute I wondered if he would set us up to get mugged! But then Thailand is supposed to be tourist friendly and we were glad to see the Asiatique signboard. Phew; we jumped off after paying him his fare but he still kept cursing us.

(Pic on right - a fish spa; for a change fish eat humans!)

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