I have survived my first month and it is all starting to feel a little more familiar.I brought myself an A-Z of Bangkok and realised (embarrassingly for a Geography teacher) that I was completely topsy-turvy.The good thing now is that I actually have some idea of where everything is.I thought I was getting to know my way around, I use the MRT (underground) and the sky train to get most places, looking at my new treasure it turns out I have only seen about a quarter of the city.Modern transport hasn't quite made it across Bangkok.I am going to have to work out the buses now.There are technically three types, the air-conditioned, the non air-conditioned and third type is the soi (street) bus.The third type is the most interesting looking, basically they are cattle trucks, and seriously they are a truck with a cage over the back and a bit of plastic over the top. You jump on the back, find a sit inside or stand on the extra cage that is wrapped around the back.I don't think I will be trying the cattle truck out too soon.
I go places via the trains because I know I will get there, I jump in a cab to come hoe, because I know I can direct the driver.Yes that's the truth; London cabbies sped years learning the knowledge and get in any black cab you sit back and relax whilst the driver takes you to the door.Get in a cab here, firstly you don't get right in you poke your head in say where you want to go, he looks at you, you try the same name with different intonation (they have 4 ways of saying the same letter all meaning different things), eventually he repeats what you just said, nods and you jump in. Next you have to make sure he puts the meter on, not normally a problem during the day, but at night they think they can catch a farang (foreigner) out and charge you a fortune to get home. Never been quoted anything other than 250 baht, you point out you live here and if he doesn't want to use his meter you'll get another taxi.So the first step has been completed and you are sat in the cab enjoying the air con, watching the world go by, the next step can go one of 3 ways.Option one, the driver does really know where you are going and as you get near you offer the last couple of direction to get to your destination.Option 2 is that you start going in generally the wrong direction and after 10 minutes of a Thai/English conversation you politely ask the driver to pull over (even if you don't know where you are) and you hail another cab and you start all over again, hopefully going in the right direction. If you manage to jump near an MRT or sky train station, it is always my preference to finish the journey under you own steam.Option 3 is that the driver has no clue, you get in anyway cause this is the 4th cab you've tried and you have to offer directions all the way.Option 3 is only advisable if you actually know where you're going.
The other thing to note is that all cabs have a starting fare of 35 baht (50p), which is fine as I have yet to pay more than 150 baht for a whole journey.It does hurt when on a clear run it is only 40 baht to or from school.
I have finally been on the back of a motorcycle taxi.Having never sat on the back of a motorbike in my life imagine the slight trepidation I felt getting on what I would describe as a scooter behind a 7 stone Thai.I have been watching other people and knew not to hold onto the drive, so I found comfort in the handle round the back of the seat.Now no one explained cornering to me, are you supposed to lean into the corner (not the most appealing idea given the size difference between me, the bike and the man in front of me)?I opted for the staying on the bike option.Maybe a bit more practice will make me better.