To say that hot pink is my favorite color is a masterpiece of understatement. At the ripe old age of 3, I announced my color choice and have never looked back. Through the years, it’s been a struggle though. I’ve found that most people don’t have my level of discernment when it comes to color differentiation.
When I say that hot pink is my favorite color, I mean that HOT pink is my favorite color. Pale pink and other watery, dull shades are overrated and don’t deserve to be in the same category as their bright and vibrant sister. And the same goes for the other side of the extreme. Unfortunately, many people look at hot pink and mistake it for red. While red is a beautiful color, it’s a bit too stark and forceful. Since announcing my favorite color, I’ve had quite a few disagreements with people over what is truly pink.
But in Bangkok, it’s different. As soon as I arrived in Thailand with the Carolina Southeast Asia Summer Program, I noticed that the country made the same subtle distinctions between pink shades. The evidence whizzed down the very streets of Bangkok. I’m talking about the rainbow of taxis, which come in just about every shade imaginable: yellow, green, yellow/green, orange, red, blue, and, yes, even hot pink.
As soon as I saw a hot pink taxi, I was ready to hail one over and jump inside. In fact, taking a pink cab shot up to the top of my priority list. Knowing that different colored taxis denote different cab companies and that certain colors used to be considered safer than others, I curbed my desire until I could be sure that a ride in a hot pink taxi would not be my last. When I was assured of my safety, I made it my mission to hop inside.
So during one of my first nights in Bangkok, after a rainy afternoon spent inside Paragon Cineplex to watch The Amazing Spider Man, followed by a full day of shopping and a rather interesting — and when I say interesting, I’m avoiding the use of other synonyms like disgusting and gross — dinner at Sunrise Tacos, my SEAS friends Isabella Sun and Olivia Byrd and I headed towards the taxi queue to hail a taxi home. But getting a cab in Bangkok — a city literally crawling with taxis — is not as easy as it sounds. Even if we’d been willing to stand in the long, snaking line outside Paragon Mall, I doubt we’d have been lucky enough to find a ride back to Mahidol University International College. We’d probably still be at the mall, trying to negotiate an illegal deal with the cabbies.
You see, in touristy areas like Bangkok, especially on busy streets near large shopping malls, taxi drivers bend the rules. Legally, cab drivers must use their meters to determine cab fare. Hailing a cab costs 35 baht (or about $1 US) and most rides from the city back to MUIC cost around 200 baht. However, with a long taxi queue winding down the street, many cabbies hide their meters and insist (before you’ve even told them where you’re going) on “500 baht” (or about $15 US) for the full ride. So when this first cabbie outside Siam Paragon made his overwhelmingly overpriced offer, I was tempted to accept and ask the driver to keep driving and stop when he got to Vietnam. After all, a trip from Bangkok to Vietnam for just 500 baht would be a pretty good deal.
Anyway, my sense of humor did not go over so well with that first wheeling and dealing cab driver, so we stepped out of the queue and took the sky train to a less-traveled area to stand in yet another winding line to wait for yet more wheeling and dealing cab drivers. The line was long, but luckily a slew of motorcycle taxis rolled to a stop and took on the more experienced cab riders, shortening our line to a more reasonable size. We still waited a good 30 minutes, but it was worth the wait. For, after a rainbow of green, orange and red taxis tried to make 500-baht deals, a hot pink taxi pulled to the curb and turned on the meter.
The ride put a lot of things in perspective. We learned to hail cabs in less crowded areas and to try to get a ride home earlier in the evening. But I also came away with one more piece of knowledge. I have a new favorite color: Bangkok Pink.
Emily Palmer, a rising junior global studies and creative writing student from Durham, is an intern for the Carolina Alumni Review. She is blogging for the Review and wants to hear about your can’t-miss experiences while at Carolina.