Bangkok taxis come in different colors: yellow, green, orange, pink, blue and white. Each colors have different impressions on customers, wether locals or foreigners of Bangkok. Khun Sombot drives a pink taxi, though quite few people would say “don’t take the pink ones”, Khun Sombot is different from the taxi drivers we’ve met. He was approachable, always smiling and very helpful and he speaks english quite well.
Where are you from? How long have you lived in Bangkok?
I came from Ubon Ratchathani Province. I have lived in Bangkok for 4 years.
Do you have a family here in Bangkok?
Yes, my eldest son is here in Bangkok with me. One more year and he is going to finish University, we are very proud of him.
Where are your other family members?
We have a small land in Ubon, my wife and 2 other kids are living there, my daughter will be joining me and my son soon in Bangkok because she wants to study in a University here. My wife comes to Bangkok often because she buys things here in Bangkok and sell it in our hometown. Sometimes I go home with here for a few days but not very often because we need to earn more money for our kids.
How is your day to day life like?
Before I prefer driving night time because it’s less traffic, but my son says it’s not good for my health because I’m getting older. So now start very early, around 4:00 AM I am out on the road. I have booking at 5:30 AM every Monday to Friday I drive them to school then 7:00 AM I pick up another regular and bring to their office. Then after that I just go around Bangkok looking for customers. I pick up my regular customer from school at 3PM. I finish working at 7:00PM, sometimes I drink with my son and sometimes I drink with my fellow taxi drivers. But if my wife is here in Bangkok I finish work early and go home to spend time with her.
Sometimes I have bookings for tours around Bangkok or a a town a bit far from Bangkok on a Saturday or Sunday. I like this days because I get to show tourist my beautiful country. Sometimes customers are nice people, sometimes not good but I try to make it as fun and interesting for them as well. I’m a taxi driver and tourist guide on days like this and I really enjoy it.
How do you communicate with your foreign customers?
I speak english with them or “Thai-English”! When I started as a taxi driver I don’t take farangs because I don’t understand anything they say even if they have maps with them I did not make the effort to understand them. And then my son started teaching me some words and I hear some english words when he watches english movies on the computer we have at home. Slowly I begin to understand simple words specially directions in english and touristic places in their accent. I learned how to say Good Morning, Goodbye and Thank you in different languages so I can make my customers smile. (And he goes on saying those words in different languages, it was cool and funny at the same time!)
How do you get your tour bookings?
Through word of mouth and advertisement in my taxi. I don’t offer to new customers because I know they will always think it’s a scam or a rip off, which is sad but there is nothing I can do about how most people see taxi drivers.
It started with two young couple, the girl is from Thailand and the boy is from Holland, I was driving them to their work and they were interested in the tour package I had behind my seat. It was quite easy that time because the girl was Thai so I did not do much with the talking and then they had friends over and used me again as a driver to tour them around Bangkok, also when the boys family came to visit I drove them around Bangkok for a week and outside Bangkok for 3 days it was a nice experience as they were really nice family. They had so many friends visiting Thailand too and they would always give my number and it got passed on after that.
Do you say No to customers?
Yes, I try not to, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided.
When tourist asks you where to eat which places do you suggest?
It depends, I usually ask them for their budget first, if they want local place but not on the street I suggest Sa Bai Jai Yang in Ekkamai Soi 1, if they want food on the street I suggest Sukhumvit 38 Night Market. If hi-so, I say Face in Sukhumvit 38 also, The Local in Sukhumvit Soi 23 or Kinnaree in Sukhumvit Soi 8. I have a lot on my list we will finish tomorrow if I say all the places I can recommend. But these are most of the time first on my recommendation.
For a beer?
I usually suggest Sukhumvit Soi 11,but again it still depends on their budget. There are lot of places, Khao San area, Thonglor, Ekkamai, On nut. There is always a nice beer place to go to around Bangkok, but my first question is where do they stay so I can recommend some place close where they live so even if they get so drunk it’s not so much trouble for them and for the people around them too.
I usually suggest Sukhumvit Soi 11,but again it still depends on their budget. There are lot of places, Khao San area, Thonglor, Ekkamai, On nut. There is always a nice beer place to go to around Bangkok, but my first question is where do they stay so I can recommend some place close to where they live so even if they get so drunk it’s not so much trouble for them and for the people around them too.