One of the most popular modes of transport in Bangkok is the motorcycle taxi. Although slightly more dangerous than normal taxis, they are quicker and cheaper.
I normally only get one from my home to the skytrain, about a ten minute journey. And, normally, I pick one up right outside where I live. However, this one particular day, the guys outside were not there, so I hailed one which was passing by.
I told him where I was going and agreed the price and off we went. About half-way up the main road, he shouted “police” and stopped so I could put the helmet on. If the passenger is not wearing a helmet, the taxi guy and possibly the passenger will be fined. Thankfully, every motorcycle I have been on has never been stopped by the police, so I have never found out what would actually happen.
But instead of giving me the helmet, he proceeded to take a black jacket out of the basket in front. OK, I thought, he’s finding the helmet, but no, he took the jacket and put it on and put the helmet back in the basket.
“Give me the helmet,” I said gesturing to it. He shook his head. “Give me the helmet,” I repeated and he, reluctantly, gave me the helmet. Weirdo! I sat there thinking why on earth doesn’t he want me to put the helmet on.
We continued up the road only to find it wasn’t the police and instead of letting me wear the helmet for the rest of the journey, he put his hand in the air and asked for it back. Maybe he thought I was going to steal it! I know I really should wear a helmet on the back of motorcycles and I know I am risking my own neck but it’s not something that occurs here, unless, of course the driver gets wind of a police checkpoint on the road.
Once at the skytrain, he took his jacket off, I paid him and he was on his merry way.
Most of the taxi guys are licensed and wear coloured vests but I’m sure he wasn’t one of them. He did have a vest on but he probably wasn’t licensed which is why he hid it with his jacket.
It’s all rather strange living in a city that’s different from your own and one where the rules and regulations are either non existent, or they change on a daily basis. You never know what’s going on 🙂