Twitchers, Touts and the Slow March of Progress


I had a twitcher last night – a taxi driver who kept twitching his neck and shoulders and jerking his body about in a way that made me wonder whether he had self-medicated something to keep him going through a long shift. It is not impossible.

Taxi drivers come in all shapes and sizes – I once got in the cab to see a driver so fat he had difficulty reaching the steering wheel. Others seem to be incredibly old, especially the Sunday drivers who borrow a car for the day to make some extra money. They tend not to drive as fast as the regular guys. You can generally tell when a driver is a regular because his (rarely her but it is not impossible) photo on the dashboard matches his face.

Many of the drivers have migrated from Isan or other regions and, when they first arrive, their geography may not be the sharpest. But they soon learn. Many are sympathetic to Khun Thaksin and the pro-poor government and take a leading role in demonstrating in favour of democracy. Others are not – there are so many that generalization is not a good idea.

Now that the new airport has opened, the new taxi system is much better than at Don Mueang, although there are still plenty of touts in and outside. Now, there is a queuing system and people collect a ticket from the desk where they tell the people where they want to go. The ticket is then taken by the taxi controller and the next driver takes the passenger – there is no more of this haggling through an open window and refusing to take people where they want to go, although that does sometimes happen to me if I want to go home to Ladprao at rush hour. Most cars are reasonably new and clean. Only twice have I had someone try to cheat me coming back from the airport, both times by apparently fixing the meter either to trip too quickly or to register a longer distance than was actually travelled. Things are not perfect but they are, slowly, getting better.

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JW

JW has been one of the first contributors to this blog before he gave up on it all in April 2010, during a time when Thai society got more and more polarized about political matters because of red-shirt protesters.

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