Bangkok is famous for its traffic. Recent research suggested that Bangkok drivers spent an average 64 hours in traffic last year (www.bangkokpost.com). Even the hotel staff suggested that taking BTS would be faster than taking taxi. Taxi drivers did not prefer going to central city in peak hours. I had waited more than 30 minutes for taxi and no one wanted to go. So when I saw a tuk tuk arrive, I jumped in it. Bangkok is also famous for tuk tuk. Tuk Tuk is similar to rickshaw, with motorbike instead of bicycle. It is mostly popular among tourists. So there I was, riding tuk tuk in Bangkok.
Tip: Tuk tuk rides can be expensive if you are new to the place. The drivers tend to charge heavy to tourists. Sometimes, taxi is cheaper than tuk tuk. So bargaining is recommended.
One good thing I noticed there was that in traffics, the vehicles automatically followed rules and maintained their distance. I was imagining about Kathmandu where all vehicles would be squishing with no gap in between, motorbike riders would be squeezing themselves from wherever they would find space while honking simultaneously. For someone who was used to traffic in Kathmandu, it was different experience. I wondered when people at Kathmandu would have traffic sense.
But riding in tuk tuk was different. It reminded me of Nepal. Look right and left, no traffic, quickly turn and move. One of the tuk tuk driver did same and took sharp U-turn saying it would save time. Well, I guess we are similar in rule breaking too. 😛 And they do not consider themselves less than taxi. Not only their charges are similar to that of taxi, there speed was too. Later that day, I was returning late night with friends and I guess the tuk tuk driver wanted to race with another taxi, he suddenly accelerated so much that we felt like being in some bond movie.
I had seen similar vehicle at Itahari in Nepal. But riding it in the busy roads of Bangkok gave a different feeling. It was already 6 pm but the heat was still intense. Even the breeze was hot. It took different route than usual taxi. Going through inner roads of Bangkok, I noticed school children returning home in groups, buying ice cream and laughing. I also saw women with their grocery bags and men walking briskly towards destination. Hidden beneath giant skyscrapers, there were small buildings with their fading old colors giving a hint that the majestic city wasn’t like this always. Suddenly the foreign city didn’t look foreign anymore. I could see similarity in lifestyle of people here and back home. People are people no matter where they live. Although I was blinded by the metro lifestyle in the beginning, now I could see the real Bangkok.
I couldn’t believe that it is the same country where Nepal exported rice not so long ago (as I heard from my parents). And now they have escalated the development while we are still where we were, perhaps even backward. It is high time for we Nepalis to sort our its differences and move together for better and developed Nepal.