Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bangkok City Street Survival

Bangkok City Street Survival.
I’m not entirely certain that I’m staying in one of the more reputable hotels in Bangkok. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure how many hotels usher you in through a side entrance because they are building a highway out the front. I can think of at least one. Still, I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the staff when I arrived back from Thailand’s recent clash with Australia.

“Sawat dii,” they all said, clasping their hands in unison. “Congratulations on the victory!”

“Thank you!” I replied, smiling jovially and no doubt looking slightly demented. “Mind you, I didn’t actually play myself. I just watched!”

Cue worried faces from the bemused staff.

Nevertheless their demeanour was an improvement on the behaviour of Bangkok’s notorious cabbies. Taxi’s in Bangkok are a bit like elections. There’s always one around the corner, and you just know they are going to be useless.

Catching a taxi after Australia had thumped Thailand proved a difficult proposition.

“Hello, will you take me to the Hotel de Concrete, please?” I would ask.

“Get out,” the cabbie would reply, evidently hoping for a larger fare, although I’m not sure where he expected to go – the planet Mars, perhaps?

My next tactic proved equally unsuccessful. Hailing a cab on busy Ramkhamhaeng Road, I simply sat down and refused to move until the driver took me to my salubrious destination. This had the effect of further grid-locking the capital’s already choked streets, as my cabbie and I locked horns in a tense stand-off for control of the meter. It took the driver behind us stepping out to retrieve what I presume was a baseball bat for me to flee the scene.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been wearing my Australia jacket. Or maybe I should have offered a bribe that would have bought more than a small cheeseburger at the local food emporium. At any rate, Spot-The-Aussie was proving a popular spectator sport as hordes of Australia fans hopped frantically from one taxi to the next. Eventually, two young men wandered over.

“Where are you going?” they enquired.

I raised a quizzical eyebrow, somewhat concerned by the prospect of making an unscheduled trip to the Cambodian border. Then I handed them my crumpled directions.

“Ah, the Hotel de Concrete!” they chuckled. “No taxi driver will take you there! You need to take the bus.”

I looked in my wallet. Not a single Thai coin to be found. I knew I’d live to regret buying so many spicy chicken wings from the street-side vendors before the match.

“Will they take this?” I said sheepishly, holding out a 50 Baht note like the clueless tourist that I am.

Lin and Toto - as they told me their names were, reached deep into their pockets and handed me several small coins. I was touched. I tried to give them my 50 Baht note, but they would have none of it.

Leaping onto the moving bus in a style reminiscent of Indiana Jones - at least in a scene where he doesn’t trip on the stairs and nearly fly head first out the window, I began to ponder the lessons learned on my trip back to the hotel.

I learned that the majority of Thai’s are friendly and compassionate and willing to help – even after their national team has just lost a match that saw them knocked out of a major international tournament.

Perhaps just as importantly – at least for anyone planning on attending a match at Rajamangala Stadium in the near future, I learned another crucial lesson that I am willing to share with you, valued reader, right now…

Take the bus home.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

Bet with Bet 365

World Soccer News

Soccer betting tips

Soccer Books & DVDs

No comments: