We realized after our Thai trip that cab and tuk tuk rides are completely hit or miss. Sometimes you get lucky and hail a taxi with a kind driver who doesn't try to take advantage of your status as a tourist. Sometimes you get someone trying to squeeze every penny from the wallets of unsuspecting and naïve foreigners. Sometimes, you get a really crazy Thai man with no teeth named Chicken.
His name shouldn't have been such a shocker- in Thailand, people are required to have unique names. In fact, until 1913, Thai people didn't even have last names.
Yes, Chicken was…quite a character, as his name would indicate. One evening, we were headed to a restaurant for dinner and decided that a nice, open-air ride in a tuk tuk would be preferable to yet another stuffy taxi. It didn't take long for a tuk tuk to spot us and pull up to where we stood on the curb.
We decided to try and barter with the guy. After a few days of cab rides, we knew most of their tricks. One that most drivers used with us was to try and get us to pay much more than would ever be logical for the ride by saying “oh, right now, bad traffic. Some roads closed.” No. Not the case. The traffic was always wretched. I want to pluck up a complaining driver in Los Angeles and ask her to drive in Bangkok for just one day. I guarantee she would never complain again after that experience.
So, we got in Chicken’s tuk tuk. Lesson learned: never get into a tuk tuk or taxi with a driver named after a farm animal. Granted, I was hoping that there would be at least a few tuk tuk shenanigans in Bangkok. Boy, did I get shenanigans. As we told Chicken where we needed to go and negotiated a price we began our journey. Chicken was an animated driver to put it mildly. In a nasal, abrasive voice he spoke to us in indecipherable English or attempted to teach us Thai. There was one vital English phrase that he really should have learned to say properly. Multiple times while we bartered, he said “okay, okay, after trip I pay you 300.” He meant to say that when he dropped us off, WE would pay 300. Every time he made this little mistake, we would say “oh, WOW, you will pay US for riding in your tuk tuk? Great!”
So, things got a little strange only a few minutes into our voyage. Chicken spotted a chubbly, sweaty little Thai boy who I would say was about 8 sitting on the curb. He pulled over and started shouting to the kid who then hopped into the tuk tuk right next to us. I was beginning to get a little skeptical of what was going on- I’m pretty sure this sort of thing is against protocol.
So, the four of us continued on our way down a main road, the little boy engrossed in his handheld video game and question marks circling around my head the entire time. Then, another worrying element of our journey occurred. Chicken took a turn down a narrow alley with only a butchered English explanation as to why. The plots of horror movies that take place in third world countries began playing over and over in my mind, and I feared that the two of us were about to be chopped into little pieces or sold into some sort of slavery.
It turned out he was taking us to his home so we could transfer from his tuk tuk to his taxi. I guess you could say it was like a layover at his home. He said that we could pay less because of the inconvenience. So we hopped into the cab and so did the little boy, who turned out to be Chicken’s son (no his name wasn't Egg).
Thankfully, we survived the crazy journey with Chicken and lived to tell the tale.