What the driver said
It is always interesting to talk to the taxi drivers when you travel, if they can speak English.
And this one who took us to the Bangkok Airport can. And, for a taxi driver, very good English too.
When I complimented him on that he said: "I was a limousine driver for the Peninsula for 15 years before I quitted and bought this taxi last month.” I did notice that it was very new.
Why did he do that? There were a few reasons.
To have more time with his family – As a taxi driver, he doesn’t have to work shift, so he can see his children more, especially his elder daughter who lives in the university hostel and is only back home occasionally.
To be his own boss – Before quitting, he had been given two warnings by his boss because of complaints by hotel clients. The traffic of Bangkok was so bad that occasionally he was not able to take clients to the airport in time for their flights. When that happened, he would be in trouble. This is something he can now live without.
To earn more money – Occupancy rate of the Peninsula had been low in recent months after the unrest of the country in May. The tips he received had been shrinking.
So what does he think about the political turmoil? It is bad for the country, as tourism is hard hit and so is the economy. But as a red shirt, he thinks that the protest is necessary and well justified, and he feels that the movement has been vilified.
Will there be more demonstrations by the red shirts? Yes, soon, he said with conviction.
Talking to this upbeat and eloquent driver pepped up an otherwise tortuous taxi trip. I didn’t realize that an hour had passed so quickly after we covered conversation topics which ranged from scandals involving the Thai crown prince and, inevitably, the weather.
"Thailand has no winter,” he said jovially. “We only have two seasons. Hot and very hot.”
Very true indeed.