T is for Thailand (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

It's "T" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Exotic temples, street markets, tuk tuks,  other than Japan where I was living at the time, Thailand was my first independent travel in Asia.  It should be everyone’s first in my opinion.  Easy, friendly, and cheap, it’s everything that signifies traveling in Asia for me.  Yes, Japan is easy and friendly, but it’s not cheap!

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Hiring tuk tuks, Devon and I puttered all around Bangkok visiting the National Palace, temples galore, great markets, taking a canal tour on the Chao Praya River, and eating, eating, eating.  Bangkok was fun, but crowded, polluted, and chaotic.  We couldn’t wait to get out of the city.

For the very first time, I hired my tuk tuk driver for private transportation one day to take us to the ancient city of Ayutthaya.  He quoted us a great price, and on top of the sightseeing, promised to take us to his home village to visit a school and plenty of kids and his mom’s little shop.  How could we refuse?  It was the perfect day for us.

That morning, he picked us up in his white Toyota truck and off we went.  Almost immediately he needed to stop and get gas, which he paid for, but as he was doing so, he opened his glove compartment and took out the longest, scariest knife I’ve ever seen.  Ok.  That got me a little worried.  No one I knew carried a knife in their car.  At this point, I started lamenting my decision and thought I could have put not only myself, but my daughter in danger.

The driver didn’t change his demeanor at all when I saw the knife.  He didn’t act sinister.  He seemed friendly and talkative and just plain happy.   My inner voice just told me to go with it and be prepared to flee or scream or whatever if something happened.  It didn’t.

We had the absolute best day of the trip.  It was just Devon and me, free to go where we wanted, invited into places that are hard to be invited to unless you know someone, eating the local food, seeing the countryside.  It was beyond awesome.  So he had a knife.  Obviously this was not unusual.  It was a little bit of a culture shock, but we were so glad to have taken a risk.  This incident, this day, helped to shape the way I have traveled since; to take chances, to get out and do things out of the ordinary, to get to know the people.

Note on safety:  I think it is very important while traveling to be vigilant, aware of your surroundings, and prepared but I also think that most people, everywhere, are safe and honest and wonderful human beings, so it’s okay to get out of your comfort zone a little bit at a time.

It's "T" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

 

Have you been to Thailand?  Have you ever just hired a driver for the day?  If so, where were you and how did it work out?

28 Comments

  1. Oh dear, I think I’d have been on tenterhooks all day once I’d seen the knife. I do get a little uptight when it’s just us and a guide and I have no idea where I am but, on the other hand, I agree that most people are trustworthy. I get into cars with strange men all the time at home (they’re called taxi drivers!) so, allowing for some extra vigilance, why should people elsewhere be different?

  2. I have to admit I held my breath for a moment as I read your discovery of the knife. Glad it worked out well for you. We tend to get private guides often for the same reasons.

    1. Rhonda, It was a little disconcerting, but you know I’m pretty sure that we would have had other signs before then if he were shady. He turned out to be such a kind person and wanted us to have a great experience. It was wonderful!

  3. My first incident with a driver in Bangkok was while I was going to the airport. I was alone in a cab and the driver started reading the hotel’s address upside down! Very soon I realized he couldn’t read English and didn’t understand it or any of the other languages I speak. Finally, I just called the hotel and the problem was solved. The next incident involved a driver we booked for a day, who quoted an unbelievably cheap price. We were suspicious all day but, he was a very nice man. People in Thailand are generally nice and friendly. They even smile while swindling you!

  4. My husband and I planned an elaborate Thailand trip last year. We traveled around by ourselves without any problem. We island hopped quite a bit and befriended some really warm and friendly locals. I love the place and plan to go back there soon!

  5. I actually lived in a village in northern Thailand, beyond Chang Mai. For two months. I traveled from Bangkok to Chang Mai alone and took a yuk yuk to the Missionary House. When the driver turned into a “village” (if you can even call it that) that was a maze and had open sewers running along side the homes, I was a bit concerned my parents would never know what happened to me!! He obviously wasn’t taking me where I had asked to go….BUT, he was just LOST! He had called the mission house to get directions before we left the bus station and tried to talk to them in his extremely broken English….Had he just used Thai, they would have understood him! Eventually, he did deliver me there….and then there was the poisonous snake in the bathroom….but I loved being there. 🙂 The stars at night were unbelievable. The Hmong I lived among were gracious and kind. Happy memories!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog Corinne!

  6. Love Thailand and we have been many times because it is close for us – well as close as anything can be 🙂 Now Crocodile Dundee had a knife! No I would have been a little wary myself definitely

  7. Lila, I agree 100%. Postive brings postive. Smiles are infectious! I loved Thailand, and I have to say I’ve found that be it what it may people always seem friendlier in the countryside versus the big cities!

  8. Yup, planning to go there, as we are pretty close. I loved your story today- was with you all the way . and with that driver..Ha ha ha – sounds like you made some fun memories:-) Thanks for the trip!

  9. I’m glad you told this story so future people hiring a driver in Thailand can not be AS worried about seeing a knife in the car. It’s one of those cultural things, I guess. Absolutely nothing to the driver, but so worrisome for us. I wonder if he knew that his clients would be upset by it, if he would move it somewhere less obvious.

    I’ve never hired a car, but it sounds like a good idea. I did once get a private taxi for a long ride in Costa Rica and, at least twice in the trip, he attempted to get more money from us than he initially told us we’d have to pay. (The first time I was adamant with my “no”, the second time he hit up my ex-boyfriend who gave him quite a bit of extra money.

    1. Ann, Persistence pays off, I guess. Actually, the only reason I saw the knife is because he happened to open his glove compartment. I don’t think he meant for us to be uncomfortable at all.

  10. What makes you sooooooo comfortable in strange environments? I’m baffled. I wouldn’t even be comfortable here in the states if I saw a gun or knife in the glove box of a taxi. Do you speak multiple languages? I keep forgetting to ask you that. You need to write a book of all your adventures.

    1. Sandy, I speak a lot of phrases in quite a few languages, I guess. Now remember, I wasn’t comfortable at first. I had to use my inner voice and then be calm. I’m so glad I did, because if I jumped out at that point I would have missed out on such a fantastic day! Devon and I both look back at that day as our absolute favorite in Thailand.

  11. Thailand is the ulktimate best compromise between a different enough culture and a safe place to travel. No wonder is the backpackers dream and getting a lot of praise!

    I never had a private driver, I decided to explore on my own. I feel it adds up to the experience!

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