Bursting bowels and stunts gone wrong. Eleven tuk-tuk pilots share their most memorable experiences behind the wheel
Got a big load? Want to get somewhere fast and cheap? Bangkok’s tuk-tuk drivers are the go-to guys.
Sure, they are known for hassling passers-by, palming cheap gas coupons for dropping hapless foreigners at tailors’ shops and inflating prices well beyond the local rate for anyone who doesn’t know better.
But they’re not all bad. And given that almost everyone in Bangkok has ridden in a tuk-tuk at least once, you can bet a lot of weird stuff happens in them.
We hit up 11 tuk-tuk drivers to find out some of their most memorable experiences on the job.
Name/Age: Keaw, 54Work neighborhood: Nonthaburi pier
Most memorable experience: “A drunk guy hired me to take him and his friend to Tao Pun. When we got there, I told him the fare was 50 baht. They said ‘no way, that’s too much, we’ll give you 30.’ We argued for a few minutes, then they beat me up and ran away.”
Most memorable experience: “A backpacker told me he’d give me 100 baht if I would pop a wheelie with my tuk-tuk while him and his friends were in the back.
So I did it, and the foreigners were cheering. Next thing you know, a policeman shows up and gives me a 400 baht ticket for dangerous driving, scolding me for scaring the tourists. Rather than help me pay for it, the farangs ran away. So I ended up losing 300 baht for that stunt.”
Name/Age: Boothun, 53Neighborhood: Pak Khlong Flower Market
Most memorable experience: “A woman asked me to drive her to the karaoke bar to get her husband, who was there drinking. ‘Wait here, I’m going to catch him cheating,’ she ordered.
“She ran in, drags him out into the tuk-tuk, yelling at him for messing around on her with one of the workers in the bar.
“For a while they just yelled at each other, but then they started slapping and throwing fists. I didn’t know what to do so I just stayed quiet and drove slowly. When we finally got to their house, they were still yelling and hitting each other, thrashing around in the back of my tuk-tuk. But at least they remembered to pay me.”
Name/Age: Kamon, 52 Neighborhood: Wong Wian Yai
Most memorable experience: “Once I forgot to take my fare to his destination. This guy was in the back of my tuk-tuk, but I totally forgot he was there and drove to my own home.
‘Oh! Why didn’t you ask me where I was going?’ I asked him when I finally turned around and saw him. He said, ‘I just thought you had an errand to run and were going to drop me off after you were done.'”
Name/Age: Boonyong, 42Neighborhood: Tao Pun
Most memorable experience: “One day, a group of four or five people hired me to take them to a restaurant. They were all really well dressed, probably teachers or government employees.
They all climbed in, but the last woman was taking so long. Turns out she was taking off her shoes and climbed up the step in her bare feet. Everyone was like ‘what are you doing?!’Â ‘Oh. Yeah. Just got confused for a moment,’ she laughed.
“That was a first for me. Obviously, nobody ever takes their shoes off to get into a tuk-tuk.”
Name/Age: Lert, 53Neighborhood: Saphan Kwai
Most memorable experience: “Once somebody hired me to pick up a Chinese lady from the hospital and drive her to Yaowarat. She couldn’t speak Thai, so started shouting at me in Chinese.
“I just thought she was old and crazy, as I couldn’t understand her, so I ignored her. When we got to her home, her family came out to get her and she told them what happened.
“‘Why didn’t you stop for her?’ they asked. ‘She just wanted to go to the toilet.’ Sure enough, when I turned around and looked in the back there was a big puddle on the seat.”
Name/Age: Thong, 51Neighborhood: Bo Bae
Most memorable experience: “During the New Year holiday, when the government allows people to use the expressways for free, I took a risk and drove onto one even though tuk-tuks aren’t allowed.
“Unfortunately a policeman stopped me, and tried to make me give him a few hundred baht or he’d give me a ticket.
“‘I don’t have much money,’ I told him. ‘So how about I give you 60 baht to cover the 40 baht toll fare and a bit extra.’ He agreed. ButÂ I only had a 100 baht note so I asked him for change. And he actually gave it to me, though he told me that’s the first time he ever agreed to give change on a bribe