Monday, March 19, 2012

Thais, frightening

I think Thais like frightening people. We saw this in many ways today. First, when we woke up, the headline of the newspaper was about an enormous sinkhole appearing in a road in Bangkok, capable of swallowing cars whole.

Second, when I got to the office (after a taxi driver drove me in a very mellow, yet utterly terrifying manner) everyone delighted in telling me that I should have left for the airport half an hour ago, because of the terrible traffic and the four hour lines to get through passport control.

Third, the hotel spent ten minutes looking for our luggage, or (probably) nine minutes looking like they were looking for our luggage, then one minute to trundle it over.

Fourth - ah, lucky fourth - was our taxi driver to the airport. He almost ran over a motorcycle as we pulled out from the hotel, and the drive to the airport, although uneventful, always seemed to be creeping towards disaster.

Perhaps it was the Porsche Cayennes going past at double our speed. Perhaps it was the way our driver would overtake slower vehicles: passing half in their lane and half in ours. Perhaps it was the way there's no lane discipline in Thailand, or its enforced by make of car - sometimes a Mercedes will hurtle past on your left, sometimes a Corolla on your right.

Or perhaps, perhaps we were terrified because at the second toll booth, a man passed our driver a four page advertisement for a DIY store, and he proceeded to drive while flicking through the leaflet. (I think it was for a DIY store - there seemed to be pictures of powerdrills, but I was petrified, pushing myself tight against my seat and unable to verify whether it was a Home Depot or a Carrefour promotion.)

I'm not saying our taxi driver took us all the way to the airport while reading about cut-price reverse hammeraction drills. After a while he got bored and put the leaflet on the passenger seat, but we didn't feel any safer, because we'd just gone past a man in a Toyota, reading what looked like the same flyer.

Is home improvement so exciting to Thais that they spend every possible moment reading about it? Or was there a memo that went round last week, telling everyone what a hilarious wheeze it would be to convince the dumb farangs that all Thais read while they drive?

We got to the airport without dying, and found that the four-hour queue for immigration didn't exist. There was a security lady at the metal detectors who spent her time dancing and waggling her metal detector, and then suddenly lapsing into fire-breathing dragon mode if anyone had so much as a 1-baht coin left in their pockets, and there was also a seven year old kid sat behind the desk by the customs point, but these were both clearly just attempts to test our gullibility, so we carried on to the dubious paradise of the airport food court.

Til next time, Bangkok. Maybe you'll think of other ways to frighten us by then.


Post a Comment