At Phitsanoluk airport, in upcountry Thailand, I may finally board the plane to Don Muang, Bangkok’s domestic airport. We are one hour delayed. Just when i find my seat, my phone rings: the pre-booked taxi driver in Bangkok calls and asks where I am in Don Muang. I have to tell him that my delayed plane has not even started and that I would touch down only an hour later. He has obviously not checked for delays online.
I booked the taxi trip Don Muang airport – Jomtien with a reputable agency by email. It seems to be this agency’s preferred mode, rather than an online form. I write them a very clear list of time of departure, time of arrival, flight number, place of origin, my name, my phone, my Line ID, number of passengers, amount of luggage etc.
They confirm quickly by email and mention gate 7 at Don Muang, where they would await me. The English in the e-mail is rather broken, though, even if the confirmation is undoubtable.
2 days before the flight, the airline messages me about 50 minutes flight delay (for a 45 minutes flight and a parallel, competing flight).
Should I tell the taxi agency about this flight delay? I know other taxi agencies with very smart, English speaking operators. Those agencies I would have immediately messaged about my delay, so that the driver won’t have to wait for me.
But with this agency here, with their broken English, I am wary to inform them about a flight delay. I have experienced huge misunderstandings out of very small changes of plans. I worry (stupidly?), if I message the agency about the flight delay, they might misunderstand it as a cancellation. (I had situations like that before more than once with Thai friends, hotels, etc). I am very sure though that my taxi agency will check the plane’s actual arrival online, especially as several experienced Thai people had complained to me that local planes always run late.
The next misunderstanding comes in Don Muang itself, when I wait at gate 7 inside the building – while the driver expects me to be outside. It’s my first booked taxi service from Don Muang and I thought it works like Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport, where you meet your driver inside the building.
Now in Don Muang, outside on the road, my driver cannot wait long for me because vehicles have to be on the move there; so he does some useless circles around the airport and we exchange frantic calls and messages. He has basic English – okay for the occasion – and on phone calls I have some useful Thai language on hand.
Finally I figure out I should be waiting outside on the road. While waiting there, I board at least two wrong taxis I mistake for my booked vehicle.
Then, my youngish driver has a big comfy car and an easy-going mind. He doesn’t seem to mind the confusion and delay very much. He says,
oh, that’s Thailand, planes always late.
But then, why didn’t he check my real arrival time online? I ask him that, but don’t get a clear (for me) answer.
Then, on the smooth highway, we enter friendly small talk in Thai and English about Thai life, job life and Thai music. (He lost his office job in Covid time, but office life was too serious and unplayful for him anyway, he says.)
I play him one Thai song from my phone which we had just discussed. Then he says something I don’t understand, and I knew I should turn off the music from my phone, as that very much disturbs my understanding of foreign languages. When somehow my phone keeps yodeling in spite of my tapping “STOP”, I say a bit loud to my phone
now stop, stop!
After the phone is finally muted, I want to pick up the conversation. But now my driver is totally silent too. He doesn’t say a word, he doesn’t look at me in the rear mirror until we reach the destination 50 minutes later.
I pay the fixed price, tip him 100, and he leaves with a resignated smile.