October 25, 2013

Don't Drive Here - Bangkok

Here's a very funny episode of "Don't Drive Here", showing how to ride and drive in the crazy traffic in Bangkok.
Although the guy has to exaggerate everything to make it more entertaining for the audience, it gives a pretty good picture of what it is like to, not only ride in Bangkok, but Thailand in general.

After riding (and driving) in Thailand for 7 years without accidents but many close shaves, I think I'm qualified to give a few tips.

1) Don't expect Western logic on the road. It's big fish eats small fish here. That means that if you're on a bike, you're way down in the food chain. Not good. Cars and trucks will be (mostly) aware of you, but that doesn't mean they will give you the right of way.

2) Try to have a 360 degrees awareness of what's going on around you and what might happen 30 meters down the road. Dogs running out, potholes, street vendors etc.

3) Try to be always slightly faster than the other road users. Might sound stupid, but if you do that, you have one less thing to worry about. Like an overtaking 16 wheeler for example.

4) Many, many bikes don't have working lights at night. Combine that with the fact that they frequently ride on the wrong side of the road, and...well, you can see where this is going.

5) Thais are usually a friendly and reserved bunch, but when they operate a vehicle this changes dramatically. Don't engage in road rage. You'll lose.

6) Try not to get frustrated with the Thai driving style. It will keep you mentally sane and probably safe your life.

That's it for the moment. If you have some more, feel free to add your own.

Stay safe out there. :-)

EDIT: I found this safety guide about riding in Thailand which has some useful info. Beware! Some very graphic pictures!

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