So after he got home from his first day of work this afternoon, my husband announced that the three of us were going to a scooter shop immediately to rent a scooter. After that, things went steadily downhill. After almost five harrowing hours, we are finally home - hungry and tired - and my son is in bed (albeit way past his bed time and with an empty stomach).
Prior to this past weekend, we hadn't been considering getting a scooter. After experiencing the crazy traffic, we decided we weren't ready for a scooter. Instead, on Saturday, we went to a Costco-like place and bought a bicycle for each of us (we took the little one home with us, but the two big ones are being delivered tomorrow). Then, on Sunday, a friend dropped by with a three-wheel scooter for us to try out. After talking and thinking about it, we decided that my husband would get a two-wheel scooter to make it easier and faster to go grocery shopping and school with our son in the mornings.
Well, I didn't think that was going to happen for at least a few more days because we were getting our bikes soon and had been fine relying on taxis this past week. So when my husband made that announcement so suddenly this afternoon, I was skeptical. What was the urgency? Also, it was already past 4 p.m., and he was told it would be a 20-minute drive to the scooter shop (which, to me, meant at least 45 minutes since it was rush hour). But he insisted because he got hooked up with this particular scooter shop through a teacher at school (husband of the high-school assistant principal) and could get a good deal on a rental.
The arrangement was for my husband to call the scooter guy once we were in a taxi so scooter guy could tell the taxi driver how to get to his shop. So we called a taxi and the guy started driving us while talking with scooter guy. After a while, scooter guy asked for my husband to get back on the phone. Why? Well, because he had to tell him that the taxi driver was refusing to take us and that we had try to get another taxi. Should've known right then and there that nothing good would follow. But the taxi driver hailed another driver who agreed to take us, so off we went.
On the way there, I reminded Husband that it was already almost 5:30 and that we hadn't had dinner. He thought we could rent the scooter, have dinner somewhere, and then get a taxi to go home. I told him I thought that was risky. We may have more drivers refuse to take us home since we already had one driver who refused to take us there, and it wasn't even dark yet! I figured that by the time we were to leave the shop, it would be dark (the sun sets fairly early here, for some reason - usually by 7 p.m., it's pretty dark out), making it less appealing for a long ride out of town.
The ride was very long. What was supposedly a 20-minute ride took about an hour and 180 baht (approximately $6, which is pretty pricey for a taxi ride here; we usually spend $3-$4 on a 15-20 minute ride). We went through many interesting-looking areas (wish I had brought my camera), was bumper to bumper in traffic most of the time, and ended up somewhere we've never been or seen before, far away from home. It all felt very remote and strange (not that where we live now doesn't still feel a little strange to us). The "scooter shop" turned out to be a restaurant run by an Australian guy and his Thai wife who also sell/rent scooters on the side (they also rent out three rooms above the restaurant, as well as own a bakery down the street, but that's another story).
The wife showed my husband the scooters they had, he tried one on for size, and then we did the paperwork and set a time for delivery (9 p.m. tonight, to be exact!!). The entire thing took about 20 minutes, tops. Meanwhile, our poor little guy was tired and hungry. I thought about just having dinner at scooter guy's restaurant, but by this time, the sun had set, and dark, thick clouds were rolling in, so I was desperate to get home.
We stood in front of the "scooter shop"/restaurant for a few minutes, but no taxi was to be found, so we walked to the main street that intersected the side street we were on. After 10 minutes or so, we finally got a taxi. But the minute we told him where we needed to go, he shook his head and took off. The second taxi driver that stopped didn't even roll down his window, and just took off after stopping for a second. A few more taxis that were empty drove by without even stopping. 20 minutes passed. I thought I was going to start crying, but I didn't want to scare our son, so I held it together.
Finally, another taxi stopped. My husband told him where we needed to go. He hesitated, then shook his head. My husband asked him if he would at least go halfway, we pleaded and begged, and the guy seemed to waver. My husband then turned to me and said, "I'm going to offer him 200 baht for the ride if he agrees." Which isn't even that much, if you think about it, since our ride there was already almost 200 baht. I shook my head no, saying that if we started bargaining, he would sense our desperation. I continued to plead and beg, and I really thought the guy was about to agree to take us. Then my husband opened his mouth and offered him the 200 baht. That was the end of everything. The guy immediately shook his head and doubled the price, and my husband started to negotiate with him some more. I finally stopped him because the driver could see how desperate we were and was not going to budge. And as desperate as I was, I wasn't going to get taken advantage of and pay such an unreasonable amount. Stupid, maybe, but I still had my principles if nothing else.
After the driver took off, I made us go back to scooter guy to see if he could help. He seemed to know everyone and everything there. The minute we told him our problem, he walked out of his restaurant to the middle of the street, without even looking, stopped all traffic, got a cab to stop, said something to the driver, and got us a taxi home. I was so grateful I could've kissed him, but we were in the middle of the street and cars were honking at us. It wasn't a good time.
Then, as if all this wasn't enough, on the way home, around 8 p.m., scooter guy called and said the scooter had been delivered (it was agreed that it would be delivered to the entrance of our development, and my husband would have to pick it up there himself), an hour early!! It had been left with the guards at the gate of the entrance. Great, I thought. With our luck, it would be stolen by the time we got to it, and we would've gone through a nightmarish afternoon and paid a chunk of change for nothing.
Luckily, everything turned out fine in the end, and the scooter is picked up and safe and sound here. All I have to say is that this had better be one hell of a scooter that can fly us places or something because no vehicle is worth what we went through this afternoon!