Confession: Up until last week I had never been out of the country. Well, except Canada, and if you’re from Detroit that doesn’t count.
So, when I was approached with the opportunity to go to Bangkok for a week I had to say yes. My yes was followed up with a ticket purchase. After purchasing my ticket, I was bursting with excitement until I realized that I would be pushing the deadline to get my passport.
Did I mention I didn’t have a passport?
With a heavy season of work travel and a history of procrastination I almost didn’t get mine in time. But alas, my cousin came through in the clutch and picked it up two days shy of my travel date. Once I got my passport, over packed my bag, and prayed, I was ready to meet some of my favorite, most magical Black girls in Bangkok, Thailand!
I’m a bit of nerd so I like to research things. When I wasn’t panicking about not having my passport, I was researching everything I could about Bangkok. Forum after forum offered tons of advice, but I kept seeing posts about taxis. This gave me anxiety because I had grown used to Uber and I couldn’t imagine trying to bargain in another country. But, the forums were clear, taxis are a way of life in Bangkok.
After the 14 hour flight, 8-hour layover in Shanghai, and the remaining 6-hour flight into Bangkok, I was exhausted. When I landed my phone was dead and I still had to figure out this whole taxi situation. I was able to find a charging station and contacted one of my travel buddies. In true Black girl form, she was getting her hair braided and I planned on meeting her at the braider’s. I didn’t want to get scammed so I asked her, “how much was your taxi?”
She paid 300 baht, and her braider told her that she got cheated and it should have been less. My worry set in a little more so I decided to Google Map it and Uber popped up. and Uber had the price set at 375 baht. That seemed like a lot, so I ventured out of the airport to the taxi stand. I was quickly matched with a driver. Before I knew it, he was grabbing my bags and I was showing him the address. He told me 300 and I told him to turn on the meter. He didn’t listen.
We started driving, and I told him again”meter!” He finally listened and we made our way to my friend. Or so I thought. Instead of the address I gave him, he pulled into a hotel on the same street. I panicked and showed him the address. Through broken English, I learned that he didn’t know where the place was and decided to take me to a hotel instead. At this point the meter is over 200 baht, nearly the limit I was told I should pay.
After a long back in forth, he started to drive again and asked me to put the address in his phone. This would have worked, but everything was in Thai. While this fiasco is happening, my friend was texting me, knowing that I should have been to her by now. For another 20 minutes we drove in the wrong direction, asked for directions on the street and argued about the continuously rising meter. Once it hit the 300 baht mark, I told him I wasn’t paying and he took me back the airport. Frustrated, I decided to Uber there.
At that point I was finished with taxis in Thailand. Once I found out that the other two ladies in our group paid 1400 baht, I decided it would be better to Uber everywhere. It would have been more expensive, but the chances of getting lost would be slim. Little did I know, we wouldn’t need Uber or any other taxi the entire time.
Introducing Mr. Green.
We all got in fairly late, and stayed up until the sun rose. As a result, we had a late start to our first day in Bangkok, and virtually no plans.
This is the part where I have to say how grateful I am to have carefree travel buddies. Before we arrived we made a list of places we wanted to go, but didn’t plan it out. It was one of the best ideas ever. So, thank you ladies!
We eventually decided on shopping, and asked one of the valets where we should go. He graciously circled spots on the map and suggested we also do a boat tour on the canal, and land at a night market. The idea sounded good to us, so we all agreed that was our plan for the day. A taxi-van pulled up and we all had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Green aka Uncle Daddy.
Mr. Green wasn’t always Uncle Daddy. Actually, he wasn’t always Mr. Green. He was just our taxi driver. That was until he passed us business cards.
At that moment, we knew he would wash away all of our taxis woes. On our first drive we talked about being in Bangkok, the best places to visit, and quickly developed a rapport. We all agreed that he would be our driver the following day. Instead of taking us to the suggested canal ride, he took us to someone he knew for a fair price. Everyone was super friendly, and the hour ride turned into a two hour tour. After that hook-up, Mr. Green became our friend.
The following day, he was at our hotel waiting at 9:30 am on the dot. Of course, we didn’t stroll downstairs until around 10 am, but he just laughed and chalked it up to us being girls. He charged us a flat rate to be our driver the whole day. Split between the four of us, it ended up being around 700 baht per person or about $20. It costs $20 for me to get from North Hollywood to Mid-City in an Uber.
Throughout the day, he took us where ever we needed to go. Currency exchange? He took us with the best rates. ATM? He knew who had the best fees. Temples? “I’m not sure but I’ll find them”. He drove us an hour out of the city and back, to random temples we found, dropped us off at our hotel, came back and took us to Khao San Road, picked us up from Khao San Road, and then took us to a club, picked us up from a different club, and dropped us back at our hotel. We tipped him well, but he was worth way more than we paid.
The driving made him “Uncle”, but his kindness made him “Uncle Daddy”. He showed an immense amount of consideration and care. He was patient, attentive, and overall had our back. His kindness went as far as giving us a cell phone so that he can pick us up when we were ready. On our last day, one of our group had a broken suitcase. She was at a nearby tailor and they told her to go to another place. Standing in the middle of the driveway confused, she wanted to give up, but “Uncle Daddy” came from nowhere and asked “why did you call me?”Not only did he take her to a luggage repair shop, he paid for the repair upfront. We always felt safe and comfortable with him. He even let us bang all the trap music and Solange we wanted.
He was our guardian angel in Bangkok. Fortunately, he wasn’t the only angel we met…
Read Part 2 – Twerkin’