November 23, 2011

"The Way of the Thai Biker" (or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding)

Today I found this brilliant essay about Thai bikers on the GTRider forum (original link) written by Ian Bungy. If you've ever wondered why Thais ride the way they (insert obscenities here) ride, this will tell you why...

"The Way of the Thai Biker" (or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding)

Most religions are burdened with the concept of opposites such as good and evil, heaven and hell, and light and dark. Buddhism however recognizes the inherent one-ness of all things and sees these supposed opposites as facets of the unity and totality of existence. To follow the way of the Thai Biker, you too must cast off all illusions of duality, such as the concept of two traffic lanes moving in opposite directions. The Thai Biker sees both lanes as part of the one road, and both directions as an expression of the eternal flow of all things. When you have grasped this, you will understand why Thais swerve fearlessly into oncoming traffic to overtake, and why they are completely serene as they hurtle along a busy road the wrong way. This is because there is no wrong way, only ‘The Way’. 'The Way' is clearly outlined in the Thai Highway Code, which consists of a single teaching, 'He who dares wins'. 
It’s the same with traffic lights. To the enlightened Buddhist driver, red, amber and green are not different colours, but simply different ways of seeing the same traffic light. Unlearn such confusing Western notions as ‘right of way’ and your inner eye will open, and guide through the intersection. Remember Green Amber and Red all have the same meaning, refer to the Highway Code for more guidance.
In Thailand, existence is not a linear progression from birth to death, but rather an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. As one’s soul gains experience and enlightenment from each lifetime, that soul is reincarnated, until Nirvana is achieved and the Thai Biker escapes from this eternal cycle into a state of perpetual bliss. You never die, because life is a mere Honda Dream. As such you should never fear death, even when careening along a twisty Thai highway at 200km an hour with a bottomless chasm beside you. This life will end when it is time. No matter how often you check your mirrors, a pick-up truck can hit you from any direction making that time now. Accept this as inevitable, and you will be free to follow the way of the Thai Biker, overtaking on blind corners and driving in the rain at breakneck speeds without a helmet, or at night without lights to guide you. 
Those who wish to spend a little longer in this lifetime should be especially careful when driving past Buddhist temples, because the drivers coming out have probably just made merit, an ideal time for reincarnation while the getting is good. 
Be like the water, which is the essence of all life and, as such, has many lessons to teach us. Water can seep through even the smallest crack, and so too can the Thai Biker. He can manouever into any space between two speeding vehicles, no matter how small it may be, or at what speed he is travelling. When confronted by an obstacle, water does not stop, but flows around, never losing momentum. So too must you.
Patience is also necessary when starting off, or turning across an oncoming lane of vehicles. You must slowly edge onto the road, keeping an eye out for even the tiniest cracks in the teeming traffic. What is the sound of one horn honking? As you travel the road to enlightenment, you will ponder this repeatedly. The answer is childishly simple. It depends on how many times it honks. One honk indicate that someone is overtaking or coming through, while a series of several honks is meant as a warning that someone is trying to move you along the path to enlightenment.
There is also the puzzle of the turn signal. A blinking left indicator can mean the driver is about to make a left turn, or it can mean he is about to make a right turn or no turn at all. Understanding intractable questions like these is the secret to mastering the way of the Thai Biker.


iktus said...

that's great! i'll take my turn signals off, i don't need 'em anymore!

The Omega Racer said...

also, if you're enlightened you can take off your front light, too. You won't need it!