We were in Bangkok’s Chinatown today. After a long walk, the heat began to really beat down and we were set for a break. A tuk-tuk happened by and offered a ride. So, of course, I did everything “by the numbers”.
Destination? Chit-Lom Station. Tao arai? (how much?) 50 baht. Ok. W’ere good to go. I notice that the tuk-tuk has more laminated paper than the average tuk-tuk and he’s got fat ghetto-blaster stereo speakers mounted to the overhead bar. He also has the disco-light version of stop lights mounted up there as well. The finishing touch was a billy club strapped to the back of his seat, ready for action.
Now, these are not normally things to look for in a tuk-tuk. What you *really* want is a very naked tuk-tuk. No papers, no blingy sound system, no obvious weapon – certainly not billy clubs. So this puts me on edge. Should I have noticed before getting on board? yep. my bad 😀
He gives it a good quarter mile, then starts in with “You want to go shop I get sticker” and proceeds to show me a card. Truth be told, I don’t know if they really get anything for “stickers”, but they do get something if you go in the shop and buy something. The sticker is a play on your sympathy so you’ll play along, thinking you’re both outsmarting the shop owner when really you’re the one being fleeced.
Here’s my opinion. Good shops don’t need to pay tuk-tuk drivers to waylay you into their shops.
I say very clearly “no thanks” with a smile. Now, the smile is important, because you can debate all you want, but you want to keep on smiling. He drives another block and asks again. I say “mei ow krup” a couple times, but he’s letting it roll right off of him. Even the touts at the Indian Tailors can accept a polite “no thanks” in Thai. I even say apologetically, “ka tod krub, mee ow krup!” but he won’t let go. Finally I say “If you don’t want to take me, no problem, I’ll get off, it’s ok”, but he says “no. it ok”, two seconds before asking again. We’re stopped at an intersection now, and a fruit seller has joined in, insisting we buy her fruit. The whole situation is getting comical now, so finally, I tell him, “No problem, you go find farang, go get ticket”, “I go now”.
With that, my wife and I get off the tuk-tuk and walk away. He’s not mad, he doesn’t chase us down with the club, or swear at us or yell at us. Why? We handled it the right way. You can disagree, but smile and stay polite.
Ah, and the best part? Payment was not requested nor offered. He drove us a total of about a mile….and the very, very best part. We got off right at the entrance to the underground railway and had an excellent ride to our next destination.
Some days you just feel like you’ve won 🙂