Compared to the 80s and 90s Bangkok’s public road transport alternatives have increased considerably.
When I arrived here I quickly learned the main bus routes (thanks to the bus map!) and faithfully stuck to the basic blue (red ones came later) buses.
There were of course aircon buses too but these were deemed too ‘expensive’ for bums like me living on a tiny budget.
Songtaews (pickup trucks) were too ‘complicated’ as they only had some information in Thai.
I learned the hard way about the meaning of a yellow background behind the number 2 and ended up near the end of Sukhumvit, but at least got my first expressway experience…
Nowadays we have elevated and underground trains, something which I couldn’t have imagined years ago.
Despite this I still don’t mind catching a bus from time to time, old habits I guess.
Wooden floor and the special seat reserved for monks.
Many years ago I read an article in the Bangkok Post about terrible jobs, one of them was public bus driver which I found rather surprising as being a ticket seller can be much, much worse, considering how crowded buses can get!
Opening/closing bus windows is usually a hit/miss affair.
The old clickety-clack bus tickets holder and the new electronic version.
Even older buses now usually have a flat-screen behind the driver offering the latest travel information.
The backs of benches are usually scribbled all over.
Getting on and off stays usually very civilized.
Aboard a late-night orange minibus No. 2.
Bus tickets and coins holder with a distance - fare overview.
I must have handled 1000s of these tickets over the years.
Older buses have their destinations still in Thai only.
A rundown bus stop.
Inside another orange minibus No. 42, note the ‘phuang malai’ (flower garlands) hanging around the rear-view mirror, it's supposed to bring good luck.
Besides the garlands there is also a Buddha image and a religious picture.
In case of many passengers, forget about social distancing.
I see now that my hat is having a hard time again...
A modern bus stop with an overview of the various routes and stops.
Inside an aircon bus is a whole different experience.
Most have their windows 'polka dotted' which spoils the view considerably...
But it is still possible to take pics!
A short bouncy ride on a 57!
Blast From The Past
Scanned photo from 1990 - Green Minibus No. 77, Victory Monument.
The dreadful green minibuses were the stuff of nightmares, quickly packed with passengers and incredibly cramped for vertically challenged farangs like me.
Driving style of the drivers often bordered on lunacy with ticket sellers hanging outside of the side entrance.
Racing between competing drivers on the same route wasn’t uncommon as the whole concept of passengers’ safety seemed to be unknown...
I remember a ride on Yaowarat Rd. where suddenly the driver went off the main road.
When concerned passengers inquired about this ‘detour’, the ticket seller informed them about a police checkpoint further ahead which had to be avoided at all costs…
For those who didn’t agree, they had no choice but to get off at the next stop!
Luckily they all got replaced by better orange ones.
Scanned photo from 1995 - Red 127 bus, picking up passengers from a temporary bus stop on flooded Kanchanapisek Road!
The worst ride I ever had was with an old 127, the driver lay passed out on the bench and someone else had taken over as driver.
He drove as fast as possible like a complete maniac all the while chatting with his lady friend next to him…
This was the only time I’ve seen that other passengers started to look scared and more than a few got off as soon as possible!
Those were the days…