UPDATE March 2016: Mr. Tao doesn’t seem to be answering his phone anymore. Boo.
If you’ve read G2D before, you might know that I often join a small but dedicated group of friends in exploring Bangkok and its surrounding area on bicycles. It’s a great way to see the city and get to areas that most foreigners – and a great many Thais – never get to see. The problem, of course, is that I don’t have a car, which means I not only have to ride to our destination, but also back home, which limits the distances I can ride. Enter Taxi-Bike Thailand. Finally, the out/back problem doesn’t have to be a limitation for me anymore.
Of course, it’s not impossible to get back into town on certain rides – you can hire a boat, grab the train, or even flag down a taxi. The problem is that A) you have to stay along a rail/boat route, and B) a taxi can only take 1 person + 1 bike. Still, even with those limitations, I’ve managed to do some pretty good rides over the years. Here’s a screenshot of Google Earth with my tracked rides turned on:
But if some friends and I wanted to head out to an area without these return options, we have to factor in several things. Personally, I can ride about 60km before I’m exhausted (it used to be closer to 100 but I’m not riding as regularly as I once did). That’s all well and good, but that’s 60km total, which means I’m limited to about a 30km radius from my starting point.
But I saw something on Facebook a few weeks ago that looked interesting – Taxi-Bike Thailand. It’s not a groundbreaking idea, just a taxi with a bike rack, but it wasn’t something I’d ever seen in Bangkok before. So, I got to thinking – it had been a while since I’d ridden out to Phuttamonton (basically the blue/red/orange lines that jut left from Bangkok on the picture above), but it’s 35km each way, and I wasn’t up for a 70km ride. But I was up for a 35km ride. So, I called the number on the Facebook page and talked to the friendly Mr. Tao (เต่า) who arranged to pick me and two friends up at my condo for a ride the following weekend.
One thing I liked about Tao was that the first thing he did when he got in the taxi was buckle his seatbelt. He drove safely and patiently, which was a nice plus.
Mr. Tao showed up 15 minutes early, and he quickly and expertly loaded up our bikes on his rack. While doing so, we shared some small talk about his business. He said it was going well, especially since biking is getting more and more popular in Thailand. I asked if he ever gets any trouble from the cops, and he said he sometimes has to deal with them because they say cars are meant for people, not bikes, but it’s not usually too much of a hassle.
One thing I liked about Tao was that the first thing he did when he got in the taxi was buckle his seatbelt (unlike some taxi drivers who use it mostly as a fine-avoidance device). He drove safely and patiently, which was a nice plus. The ride to Phuttamonton took about 30 minutes, for which Mr. Tao charged 700 baht ($22). Divided three ways, that’s about $7 each, not bad at all.
Unloading took a few minutes, some bright red bills changed hands, a few wais were given, and Mr. Tao was off, but not before I asked him to pose for a picture.
So, one more reason to give biking a try in Bangkok. I forgot to ask Mr. Tao if he was available to drop off and pick up, but I don’t see why not, as long as the guests are willing to pay for it. I’m really happy this kind of service is available now, and hopefully I’ll be able to get out and explore some areas further afield than I could before.
Mr. Tao’s number is 082 965 9259. He is very friendly and professional, and speaks English moderately well. With a bit of patience you can get a booking all set up without speaking Thai, but of course if you speak some Thai, it will help smooth over any rough patches.