Taxi Talks - Chiang Mai, Thailand

This red taxi is just one of the many types of taxi transportation in Chiang Mai. Not many conversations happen in this kind as you sit separate in the back of the truck on bench seats. The back of it is open for jumping in and out. It is called a Rot Daeng or Local Truck. Several different colors exist and they denote which areas they will go to. These guys generally loop and pick people up. The price is anywhere from 20bht to 100bht depending on where you are going and how many people you have with you. We fit 21 people in one of these one night, that has to be a record. 

I don't take taxis often but when I do I always chat up the driver. For an introvert this is pretty unusual. I do this because they are a wealth of local information and they usually have something interesting or hilarious to say. I also remember my Dad doing this a child and being  kind of uncomfortable with it but he always found out uncommon things. I guess I picked it up along the way. These short interactions serve as amusement and little open moments in time when you and the taxi driver seem to speak freely. I have decided to catalog some of these and share. If you don't chat up taxi drivers, you should, you never know what you might find out.

Route - Chiang Mai Airport (Northern Thailand) to SpicyThai Backpacker Hostel
Duration - Approximately 15-20 minutes

This trip was rare because I had a female driver. In the States or at least places I frequent, you rarely see female taxi drivers. This one in particular was happy to chat. Her taxi was very nice, an SUV type, I assume this is because she works at the airport and is always carrying luggage.

I started with a standard spate of questions (even though I knew the answers to some) to get the conversation started and also to signal to her that I was willing to chat. How has the weather been? Is this the high tourist season? What do you recommend I do? Where is the best market in town? Things of that nature. And from there she just started to share...

Her most interesting recommendation was to hire (rent) a bicycle. She specifically clarified that she was talking about a bicycle because motor bikes are so common here.

Driver: "Chinese people love to hire bikes." I said, "Really, why is that?"
D: "I don't know, they just do."
Me: "Perhaps they ride bicycles a lot in their own country and like to do the same abroad. It is what they are comfortable with.
D: "Maybe but they are not good at it."
"I'm sorry, what?"
D:  "They are not good at it. They are always going into traffic...and they wear skirts."
"They wear skirts while bike riding? "
D: "Yes. One time I was driving through town and a woman's skirt got stuck in her chain and the bike FELL OVER."
"No, you are having a go at me..."
D: "No, I saw it, she just fell over into the street. (uses hand motion to indicate an elaborate falling over of the bicycle)
I laughed at the picture in my head but also realized how ridiculously dangerous this was and how easily she could have been run over in traffic here.
"Was she alright?"
D: "Yes but slightly injured. See there! Two Chinese on bicycles, but they are smart they are wearing trousers."
Me: Looking all around the spot the people she pointed out.
D: "Yes, you should hire a bike but wear trousers."