The Thai Taxi Driver: Scam Artist or Serial Killer?

I’m pretty sure every tourist has a story like this one or at least some variation of it. I know a guy who spent an hour in a taxi in Thailand being driven in circles because the driver knew he was lost and unaware that he was only 5 minutes from his hotel. It happens.

Although nothing untoward actually occurred, I was shaken by this experience. Every time I get in a taxi – whether in England or abroad – a niggling part of me says, “this is it, this is the time you get murdered/kidnapped/god knows what”. Because of this niggling voice, every time I get in a taxi in a new place (or sometimes in a place I know), I turn on Google Maps or watch the Uber map, just to make sure they’re taking me in the right direction and not driving me into the middle of nowhere to kill me – especially if I’m on my own.

On this particular evening, we’d had an incredible meal at a local restaurant where we were the only tourists (always the best restaurants) and only one staff member spoke enough English to serve us. After this we had tickets for a Cabaret show – a must do in Bangkok – and we got so engrossed in the food that we thought we were going to be late.

After hurriedly hailing a taxi I asked him to put the meter on, then got my phone out to check where we were going on Google Maps, as I usually do. We were only about 5 minutes away from the Cabaret and should have taken an exit off the main road not long after we were picked up, but instead of taking the exit our driver put his foot down and started speeding away. Amy and I looked at each other; her confused, me immediately thinking we were about to get murdered, obviously.

We very gently suggested to him that he was going the wrong way, but he just tutted and ignored us and continued driving. All sorts of images were running through my head at this point. This is it, I thought. We’d dead (classic me, ever the drama queen). Amy told him again that he was going the wrong way and again he ignored her. I asked him to pull over, he ignored me. Then I started to get angry. No way was I being killed by some random taxi man in Bangkok. No. Way.

I shouted at him again to pull over. I’m guessing this time he realised how serious I was. Finally, he listened to us and stopped on the side of the road. We were literally in the middle of nowhere but I really didn’t care. My heart was in my throat and I felt like I could throw up. In my mind, we’d just confronted death, and won.

Once we were out of the taxi and could talk openly, I discovered that Amy had a very different take on the situation. It turns out that not everyone immediately assumes they’re going to be raped and killed?! Who knew.

Her theory (which was significantly more plausible) was that he was just trying to get money out of us by taking the long way round. We’d asked him to put the meter on for a 5-minute journey, and I guess he wasn’t very happy about that. Instead of arguing with us, he just assumed we didn’t know where we were going and thought he could get some more money out of us. It made perfect sense, yet my brain couldn’t get past the fact that he could have been a serial killer.

We managed to hail another taxi and this time got a nice driver who was happy to put the meter on and get us where we needed to be quickly. Thanks to the first asshole, we were pretty late for the Cabaret – entering right in the middle of an interesting rendition of Single Ladies. But it was the perfect antidote to our taxi troubles. Plus, we went on the Ferris wheel afterwards and got a view over the whole of Bangkok!

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Although nothing bad did happen to us, we’ll never know what that man’s intentions were – though in all likelihood, Amy was right and he was just trying to scam us. The moral of the story here friends; make sure you keep your wits about you, know (even just a little) where you’re going, stand your ground if you feel like somethings not right and, most of all: Stay Sexy, and Don’t Get Murdered!

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