In Australia, when you catch a taxi somewhere, you never really know how much it is going to cost. There are a multitude of factors that can affect how long your journey is going to be and how much it is going to cost. Traffic, road works, traffic lights and even the time of the day can add $$$ to an already expensive trip. And let's face it; taxis in Australia really aren't that cheap. Well, not in my expreience anyway.
This can cause some problems, especially if you are a drunk uni student trying to get home at 3am after a night out on the last few $$$ in your wallet. Not only do you have to stay awake to watch the meter, but also so the driver doesn't take you on the extended route.
Yesterday I experienced a better form of public transport. Instead of getting into a taxi and the driver telling you how much you have to pay once you arrive at your destination, you decide on a price before you leave. In Thailand, the tuk tuk's all use this system. You tell the driver where you want to go or in our case, point to it on a map and he tells you how much it will cost. The best part is, you can barter the price. No surprises, no change in price, no guessing.
We had four groups travelling from Chiangmai back to the resort. The first group caught a taxi and paid 600 baht when they arrived. The next group caught a tuk tuk and got the price down to 400 baht. I was with 3 others and we managed to get a tuk tuk for 350 baht but the last group played hardball and bartered their trip down to only 300 baht; half the price of the taxi!
Sure, the trip takes longer in a tuk tuk, the seats are not as comfortable, you can barely fit four people in and the tuk tuk feels like it is going to roll over evertime you turn a corner but it is worth it. The wind is in your hair, you can take the small back streets and if you are lucky, you can get a pimped out tuk tuk with a stereo and flashing lights!