How Do We Get Around On Buying Trips

“Transport, transport”, the refrain of the taxi drivers of Bali.  It is their technique for offering vehicles and drivers to you as you stroll past their parked taxi – a very old refrain by the 2nd day and the 50th repetition.

How did we get around when we were traveling and buying in Asia?  It’s not a simple matter of landing at the airport and going to the car rental counter.  There was no such thing.  Even if there were, driving styles in Asia would make that a dicey proposition.  Also, by some quirk of fate, all the countries where Banana Tree bought have left-side-of-the-road traffic patterns.  Ratchet up the self-drive danger level one more notch.

The better choice was hiring a car and driver for the period of our stay.  If we got one, we liked, we kept him the whole time.  We would try to hire him on future visits as well as he was then “broken in” to our ways (lots of loot in the boot on each sortie) and could find our out–of-the-way sources without our direction the second time around.

When we first started Banana Tree 24 years ago, our conveyance in Chiengmai, north Thailand, was one of the local semi-public transports: a red pick-up where the mostly open back has 2 long wooden seats facing each other.  Capacity: 2 squished up front with the driver and about 10 in the back on the benches.  We hired the entire vehicle and the driver, Boonwet, for our stay.

This worked well for everyone until Boonwet started getting creative driving fancies.  This reached its peak on Chiengmai’s only divided superhighway where our destination was a lane on the opposite side.  As an opening in the median strip did not present itself at the convenient place, Boonwet, to avoid a U-turn, crossed the median and calmly drove into oncoming traffic.  Boonwet lost his standing as a Banana Tree irregular.