Virtual meanderings

Avoiding taxi scams

is there no end to the bs they come up with? like build mama and papa a house, they need money, they very poor. these girls in pattaya are at it all the time. buy me this buy me that. gold and phones anything thats pawnable they will sell. then ask you to replace them or buy them back so they can pawn them again, theres no end to the continuous give me money? they then move on swiftly because they dont want to lose time. so be on your guard at all times”

Hm, wait… is this about taxis and taxi scams? Well, no, but it sounded like an interesting start to the post – the source is a comment on the website (a recommended read).

After spending one event-filled week in Thailand, getting mildly ripped off here and there, as well as a bit harder for my bus ticket from Bangkok to Chiangmai – the environment strangely yet surely began to remind me of old first-person shooter computer games – the likes of Wolfenstein, Doom II and Heretic (if anyone remembers those).

No, really. Think about it – in either case you only have a rough idea of where you are going and how to accomplish your goal. You look for hints and hunt supplies along the way. Only, instead of monsters trying to eat you, you have smiling Thai people trying to make some money off of you.

No-meter taxi drivers in client search mode
No-meter taxi drivers in client search mode   

Taxi drivers are perhaps the first example that comes to mind, as they are the most likely to interact with (and thus possibly rip-off) a happless   traveller. One of the first things I learnt after landing in Thailand was to avoid taking a tuk-tuk (the three-wheeled motorcycle-like thing) and to always demand from taxi drivers to turn on their meter, or else look for another taxi.  The Web is full of accounts (see the above) of people who have not been so lucky, falling straight for the “Land of Smiles” trap and paying accordingly.

Which brings us back to the first-person shooter games. It would not make sense if my game analogy had only gotten us this far – but there is more. Do you recall how before starting a game one had to choose a preferred “skill level”?

Selecting your preferred skill Level
Selecting your preferred skill Level

In the real “Thai Game”, the less mindful you are of the situation, and the more financial damage you are willing to sustain – the easier it is to “play”. It is just like picking the newbie mode. You pass the level easily. You achieve your main objectives. But you paid double and triple, and you missed much of the fun.

When you play for a while and build some confidence, temptation starts to rise whether you can handle a higher skill level. You become more serious about avoiding rip-offs, you start learning the tricks. But this immediately causes the game to become more difficult to play – you needed to search for extra information, you needed to be more aware of your environment, and you needed to become more actively involved. The better you handle a higher level of difficulty, the more rewarding the overall feeling is.

And now comes the best part. Just like in first-shooter games, each new game /day it is actually up to you to choose the skill level – depending on how you feel that day, or how confident you are about what you are trying to accomplish. Sometimes you feel tired fighting all that and choose to go with the flow, take it easy, pay a few bucks more but avoid any arguments. Sometimes you feel full of energy and the king of the hill, not taking no sh*t from noone…

After getting nicely ripped off with the bus ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I had decided to go for the higher difficulty mode, wherever possible. As for taxi scams, you can read about as many as you want of those somewhere else – like the venerable website. I would not be able to offer anything different than what is already there anyway. Have fun reading.


One response to “Avoiding taxi scams

  1. Pingback: Crossing into Cambodia: Part I « mastercopycat

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