Public transport?

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Dear Hillary,

Can nothing be done about the songthaew drivers?  For a tourist city they give the place a bad name with their stand-over tactics and demands for fares much greater than should be the case.  No wonder the foreign tourists look for taxis, but unless they have their wits about them they will again be quoted exorbitant fares, rather than using the meters.  For a real fun time in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, try a tuk-tuk which will attempt to take you straight to the nearest jewelry shop that pays for their fuel.  Until our respective city fathers meet the songthaew monopoly head on and produce a real public transport system, this will always be a third world tourist destination.

“Mister, where you go?”

Dear “Mister, where you go?”

Unfortunately you are quite correct, my Petal.  The songthaew which do not have any fixed or marked destination will always be a turn-off for tourists.  Why would you expect them to get on transport with unmarked destinations?  Perhaps it is time for the TAT to get involved and issue ‘tourist bus’ licenses for drivers who meet a minimum standard in communication.  Hillary has given up with the songthaews, taxis and tuk-tuks, and uses motorcycle taxis when possible (still none in Chiang Mai).  They appear to be a friendlier bunch and will heed the “cha-cha” (slowly) instructions.  You do have to barter first, but that’s part of the fun of living in the ‘third world’.

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