Thailand and its Not- So- Charming Minivans

Currently, I am waiting for a minivan to take me from Bangkok to Chonburi, a little over one hour away. Because there is no visible timetable I ask the cashier, “When will the minivan get here?” No answer. I repeat my question. No answer. I try a third time, “Excuse me, when will the minivan get here?” Each time the question was asked in perfect Thai (I’ve been complimented on my Thai accent and it’s a simple question that I’ve used many times) so the ‘language barrier’ wasn’t an issue, confirmed when she answered, “It will get here when it gets here. Wait a minute.” Plain rude. Why did it take me repeating myself three times to get a simple answer? Many minutes later (far from the “beb diiaw” minute instruction) I am still waiting. Now to to make things clear: I love Thailand. However, the time has got me reflecting on the many flaws -and plain and simple instances of rudeness- that are a regular here, in all countries obviously, but since I have been irritated by this incident which has taken place on Bangkok, then Thailand I shall rant about! Mainly minivans. Actually, only minivans.

Minivan Rant 1: why must the driver tell you where to sit? “Move to the back, move to the side, sit upside down.” If seats aren’t assigned then aren’t I allowed to put my bottom where my bottom deems best?

Minivan Rant 2: waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The minivan is full. FULL! No more bodies can squeeze in so please, get this show on the road (because I want to be sipping cocktails on the each by 6, if not sooner.)

Minivan Rant 3: the driving, oh the driving! Sometimes it feels like a race as they speed along and veer in and out of the lanes, blowing horns at one’s will. This was endearing at first, the danger and excitement, knowing that those cocktails would be waiting when I reached my destination. Now, having been moved seven times by the seat dictator and needlessly waiting for much longer than necessary, this ‘race’ is just a contradiction (and annoyance, not to mention danger!) to the driver’s previous stalling. Slow down! People’s lives are in your hands! And then there’s the brakes. THE BRAKES! That harsh jamming of the brakes as we stop short of slamming into the car in front; the brakes that wouldn’t be needed so much if you drive at the legal speed limit.

Minivan Rant 4: it’s either baltic or boiling in there! Where’s the happy medium?

Minivan Rant 5: those back seats that make your arse want to die (not to mention that front inside seat that’s even worse!) Having spent ages waiting for the damn thing, securing the best seats by successful deployment of the bag friend- seat friend tactic as I’ve just christened it (Bangkokians know what I mean), the last thing you need is that seat dictator telling you to move! Doesn’t he know the anguish you’ve just been through: the dealing out of bag friend- seat friend roles, the furtive edging to the head of the queue, the wish to be able to read Thai as the minivan signs roll in, the movement of your bucket and spade to a secure location…DOESN’T HE KNOW? He definitely doesn’t care as he orders you to move to the back seats of arse death! And he doesn’t even bother to slow down going over those bumps!

Luckily for me, today has been a success: I’m sitting on a comfortable seat and we’re on the move. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about the speed (the fear that he might order me to move creeping in.) My advice to a novice minivan passenger? Get a taxi.