Let Money Be Your Guide (Part 2)

(Click here to read Part 1.)

Text and photos by Solaire Hauser

BANGKOK – Being a tour guide means telling a lot of stories. Sometimes, however, it is the storytellers themselves who share details about their lives.

Ithidej Sarunsiri has been a tour guide in Bangkok since 1998, and it wasn’t exactly the career he had always imagined for himself.

“Life is easy for Thai people,” he says, because the weather stays sunny almost throughout the year. However, in terms of his professional career, life did not always seem so bright.

After working in his father’s business for a few years, he eventually had to look for a new job when the Thai-based company suffered a hard blow during the financial crisis of the year 1997.

Even though becoming a tour guide did not seem like the best option to him back then, there were not many other choices available. So he started his training and began to pray to Buddha to help him get his license.

Now Sarunsiri walks tourists around the most famous sights Bangkok has to offer and explains their history to them. “I keep details like a library,” he says with a laugh as he turns to a giant golden Buddha statue to explain the story behind its creation.

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Fishing in Deserted Waters

Text and photos by Solaire Hauser

HONG KONG – Wading through the dark brown muddy ground, Ho Jeon Pak is looking for shrimp. The villager, who is currently in his seventies, collects the small sea creatures, as well as tiny fish, simply for fun and to eat them.

“There is nothing else to do here,” says his wife.

She and Ho have been living in the Tai O fishing village on Lantau Island in Hong Kong for many years. Before his retirement about 16 years ago, Ho used to work as a fisherman, just like many other men in the small village. But now, there is hardly anything left to catch.

“I quit fishing when I was about 40,” he says. “No fish for us anymore.”

Hong Kong Taxi Drivers Fight for More Money

Text and photos by Solaire Hauser

HONG KONG – Easily distinguishable from normal cars in most cities, taxis come in different colors. In Hong Kong their signature colors are red, blue and green, depending on which area they are serving.

Drivers of the red cars, which are also known as urban taxis, have recently been on the news due to a discussion about an increase of the taxi fare.

At the moment, most drivers earn around HK$ 300-400 on an average day. Poon Shu Keung, who has been a cab driver for 20 years, thinks that the current price is acceptable. “Not too much, not too little,” he says.

On the contrary, cab driver Chow Chi Leung says that almost half of that money needs to be spent on oil and the renting fee for the car.

What urban taxi drivers are demanding now, in order to solve this problem, is a HK$ 2-increase in the taxi fare, according to a report in The South China Morning Post. They are also asking for an additional 10 cents for every 200 meters.

There have been a number of fare increases in recent years to deal with this situation. Whether this one will be approved or turned down remains to be seen.