Driving in Surat Thani, Thailand

We drove up this weekend to pick someone up at the train station in Surat at the Phunpin train station. The drive up is really nice, very little traffic and the road is now in decent condition on the way here. It’s a really enjoyable 2 hour drive.

But, arriving in Surat the horrorshow begins. If you haven’t been to Surat for any length of time, you might not have noticed the nearly 6 million young tech school kids running around the town. There are  a number of tech schools here and some of the kids that ride the motorbikes here must be sniffing glue. I don’t think some of them have enough brain cells for their brains to be telling them to keep breathing, let alone driving a motorbike through town.

Just in the 4 hours we’ve been here we’ve seen about 9 nutty pre-adults (under 21) driving irresponsibly, dangerously, and even maliciously. The roads in the city are narrow. This is another of those cities where the roads are too narrow for the population that moved here. The city has swelled to a large population and there are new buildings everywhere you turn. Just like in Ubon, Sisaket, Khon Kaen, Korat, and other cities. It’s like all the farmers have moved to the cities and the city planners – if there is any such thing – were not expecting such an influx.

The result is the roads in Surat are VERY narrow for all this traffic.

Then you have people getting upset because they can’t as fast as they want because we’re all waiting for guy’s pushing watermelons on cars ON THE HIGHWAY in the wrong direction. We’re waiting for a multitude of tuk-tuks and songthaews which bus the kids and anyone else that doesn’t feel safe driving their car or motorbike – which means a LOT of people. The tuk tuks and songthaews all drive exceedingly slow and erratically, as they pick up and drop off people without any forethought at all – just make a decision to swerve at the last second. This cuts off the motorbike drivers trying to pass traffic on the left side.

It’s just a nightmare.

The one good thing is that the drivers in Surat are millenia more evolved than the brain-dead club down in Krabi. You know how it isn’t really THAT bad when everyone drives like idiots, but they are all good drivers because they’re used to it? That’s Surat, Bangkok, and Phuket. Though there are a lot of knobs in Phuket – of those three places.

Krabi is where a growing group of knob drivers are completely at a loss for how to drive a vehicle, so it makes it considerably worse.

If I had to pick one, I’d choose driving in Surat over Krabi, but still, I don’t want to be driving here either.

So, be careful if you find yourself tooling around the too-narrow streets of Surat Thani town. The country roads are great. The city is so dangerous.

 

American Stabbed Over Disagreement with Cab Fare – Bangkok, Thailand

Troy Lee Pilkington, a 51 year old California native living in Bangkok and working for Caterpillar corporation in their customer service department was slaughtered today on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, Thailand over what looks to be a 15 THB taxi fare. In US Dollars, that is about 50 cents. Half of one dollar. In Thailand I frequently buy my daughter a popsicle for 15 THB.

Here’s what I read happened. This is from the online news reports at ThaiVisa.com and links out to other information sources. If you were there or heard conflicting information, let me know what you heard.

Troy was in a Thai cab driver’s cab. The fare seemed to jump from 35 THB to 50 THB, too quickly for Mr. Pilkington to believe the meter was above board. Another scenario is that the fare was 81 THB and the cabbie tried to add another 50 THB on to that, and Mr. Pilkington refused. He told the cabbie to drop him off right there. He and the cabby had a verbal fight about it, and at one point Mr. Pilkington may have thrown water from a waterbottle at the cab driver, or thrown the water bottle itself.

Mr. Pilkington exited the cab at a red light without paying the fare and walked away.

The cab driver chased him with a samurai sword and attacked him from behind. They fought for a very short time and Mr. Pilkington died from his injuries (stabbed).

Thai police say they have the cab driver in custody.

The reason I wanted to write about this today, having not written shit-else here for a long time, is that I just want to remind visitors and expats living in Thailand that Thais explode at a moment’s notice about some things. One of those things is…

MONEY.

Do not for any reason attempt to take justice into your own hands and stiff a Thai person over any amount of money, even fifteen fucking baht. It’s outrageous that two adult men could have such fury over 50 cents USD. I can’t comprehend it. I have been at the other end of what I sensed was a scam before – involving paying for a Thais drink at a bar that I never ordered for him. It was 150 THB. Five dollars USD. I swallowed my pride (sense of being fucked over), paid it and walked away, remembering to never drink or spit near that bar again.

Mr. Pilkington was American. I am too. In the states we have this idea that we are going to set shit straight no matter the cost. What’s right is right, and all else can get lost until we make it right. Was Troy about to get scammed out of fifteen baht? Probably. The meter moves slowly on a cab, it would be easy to see it jump too fast. Especially since Troy was an expat living in Bangkok, he had a good idea how fast the meters go in taxis.

But, it was fifteen baht.

I have seen a number of expats get upset when they were about to be scammed, or when they thought they were. Expats get enraged over a 20 THB fare on a songthaew in my city, versus 15 THB for Thais. Is it fair that we pay more? Doesn’t seem to be. Is 5 THB worth getting yourself worked up over? HELL NO it isn’t.

Though I am horrified at what happened to Mr. Pilkington, I understand that in Thailand, that shit doesn’t fly. Doesn’t fly for 15 THB, and it sure as hell doesn’t fly for a couple of thousand baht. What you are to do in a situation where you’re about to get screwed over, is pay what the Thai(s) say is owed, and then bring the tourist police back to the place and try to get some justice over it later if you care that much.

I’m trying to guess how many baht I’d have to be scammed for before I decided to scream at a Thai and throw water in his face, or hit him in the head. I can’t even conceive of that happening. Not for 100,000 THB, and not for a million. Pay it and live another day.

Sure it sucks. There are many things in Thailand that are not fair. Americans, and the rest of us, have to get over it. You gave up fairness when you arrived at the airport. Just assume that NOTHING is fair here, and go on living day to day as best you can. The key is to go on living.

Many Thais don’t seem to give a fuck about life. Not their own, not yours. If you don’t give one either, then keep trying to set shit straight – and see where it gets you. This is one area that you will be a sure loser. Pursuing perceived wrongs is almost never worth it here in Thailand. Learn your lesson, share it with all the expats you know so they aren’t duped too -and move on.

Rest in peace Troy Pilkington. You weren’t the first. You won’t be the last to die in a fight over something ludicrous like 15 THB.

We’re not in America anymore. We’re not in the UK or Australia. Thais play by an entirely different (and fucked, in my opinion) set of rules, but there’s nothing we’re going to do about that.

Don’t scream in a Thais face about any amount of money. Not about jealousy. Not about anything. Either get over it, or set the record straight in public or behind the scenes.

Better luck to the rest of us…

2 Canadian Sisters Die in Phi Phi Palms Residence, Krabi, Thailand Hotel

I rarely post any more here, but just wanted to get this up so more people will be aware of it.

Two sisters, Noemi Belanger, 26 and Audrey Belanger, 20, just died in their hotel room at Phi Phi Palms Residence on the island of Phi Phi in Krabi province, Thailand this week. An autopsy for both girls is planned – of course, hopefully done in Canada.

Bangkok Post Article ->

There have been a number of people dying in hotel rooms on Phi Phi island in Krabi over the past couple years. Whether it is bed-bug pesticide, or someone spiking their drinks with GHB or something else – is unknown. The last 3 people to die there before these sisters – cause of death – inconclusive.

Here are some of the possibilities – this isn’t an exhaustive list, but a start…

1. Someone is spiking tourists’ drinks at nightlife venues. They use too much drug / poison. Some die, some just are knocked unconscious and figure it was a bad night of drinking. Maybe some are raped. Maybe some are robbed.
2. Too much pesticide being used to control bed-bugs or other pests. Many believe this to be the case with deaths in a Chiang Mai hotel not long ago.
3. Cleaning agents or some other toxic chemicals being used in close proximity to the rooms – or in the rooms of tourists.
4. Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
5. A bug in the air conditioning system. Remember Legionairres Disease?
6. Unintentional drug overdose.
7. Blowfish – Pufferfish poisoning. The symptoms cause paralysis of muscles, throwing up… and can kill you within 24 hours. Eventually death is caused by the diaphragm muscle refusing to move, causing asphyxiation.
8. Suicide.
9. A serial killer is targeting women on Phi Phi.

There are so many possibilities – but most of them would be found during an autopsy. Hantavirus and a hundred other killer viruses could be culprit. Those work fast and are devastating on the body. These two Canadian girls were found to have bled from the gums. Viper snakes have bites that cause bleeding of the gums, eye sockets, ears, any orifice… but don’t cause throwing up or rash that I know of. Both of the victims in this case had rash and there was evidence of vomiting having taken place in the room.

I can’t think of another animal in Thailand that might cause those symptoms. The pufferfish is a good possibility, though with slightly different symptoms, and I don’t think gums bleed.

Any other possibilities you can come up with that might make sense?

Motorcycle Accidents in Thailand – Gruesome Video

Thailand’s holiday season is here – and just a little reality check for those of you driving around the country during the next few weeks. This holiday, like every other, is sure to be filled with many of these tragic motorbike accidents. I’ve seen so many, they blur in my mind by now.

A couple that stand out…

  • The bus I was on in Udonthani hit a cow – knocking it flat – first, and then later – a girl on a motorbike on the same trip.
  • 4 bodies laying sprawled all over the road in a 2 motorbike crash in Ubon – nobody moving, a lot of blood.
  • By far the worst thing I’ve seen is bodies covered up on the street by blue plastic after a motorbike accident, and yet one thing – in the middle of the street – was left bare. Someone’s brain was left there on the street. Literally – just sitting there on the road. There was a crowd of people looking at it, trying to come to grips with how it happened. Me too. (Click here for brain story)

Motorcycle accidents result in a lot of blood, and it isn’t just motorbike riders without helmets, but it’s the attitude of drivers in cars, trucks, and dump-trucks that they drive however the hell they want, and everyone behind or merging with traffic – adjust.

Man Stabbed to Death on Busy Ao Nang, Krabi Beach Road

Monday I went out with the guys and on the way back we passed by a guy laying in the street, surrounded by about 100 some Thais and foreigners. He was bleeding profusely, and his motorbike had fallen in the other lane. We figured – motorbike accident.

Not so fast.

Today I was talking to the same friend I saw the scene with and he said what actually happened was far worse.

A Thai guy – middle aged, got on his motorbike and was stopped by another Thai in the middle of the street. The guy that stopped him stabbed him in the face, head, and heart numerous times with a sharp object – knife, or other.

He died right there in the street – as many people gathered.

Krabi is not typically a dangerous place for foreigners. Thai on Thai vengeance is swift and deadly though – you don’t want to really piss someone off – for ANY reason.

Be safe.

Aussie Falls Off Balcony in Phuket – Sleepwalking

An Australian man, after having a birthday party with friends – somehow fell off the balcony at his hotel room.

At first I was going to call Bullshi*, and then I read some of the comments, and apparently some of the balconies at hotels in Pattaya, Patong Beach, and all over Thailand – are only at waist high. One of the guy’s friends called the one his friend fell to his death at – knee high. So, people sleepwalking off their balcony at a hotel in Thailand makes a lot more sense now.

Original article ->

Escape from Thailand – Do You Have a Plan?

I had an interesting conversation with some guys here in Southern Thailand yesterday about the future of Thailand. Sometimes I think I’m over-exaggerating the idea that Thailand is going to be a scary place to be when that certain event nobody dares talk about – happens.

But, apparently there are plenty of Thais that are thinking the same thing. In fact, these guys were planning for a much worse scenario than I ever thought would happen. One guy is trying to get a passport so he can go to Germany. Another is planning a quick exit strategy with his family to move to Malaysia. They were telling me that large numbers of Thais believe that parts of the south – large parts – will be going to war because there is a high-up guy in the military that commands the southern army and they have their own agenda.

What this means – the truth of it, the reality of it – is all just hearsay at the moment. Maybe these guys are watching too much TV or listening to too many anti-government radio broadcasts. I don’t have any idea. But, it makes me think harder about what is going to happen at a future date.

Is Thailand going to be totally inhospitable for foreigners? Is Thailand going to be warring within it’s own borders as various factions fight for power? Is the military going to attempt to take over – and, is the military united as one – or, will they split up into different groups and fight against each other?

Quite a situation could develop. Not that it will – but, the possibility for unrest is there. Maybe it’s likely.

Do you have a plan to escape Thailand – if or when that becomes necessary?

I wasn’t thinking all that seriously about it before, because I tend to just ignore everything that is going on. However, it’s probably something each of us expats living in Thailand – need to spend some time thinking about. Probably a lot of time.

What are you going to do – what is the plan?

For us – I guess we’ll do things like get baby’s passport in order, get legally married, and all that. Though it wouldn’t be my first choice… or maybe not even my 5th choice, we’d be prepared to move back to the states if there was no better alternative. I’d like to consider some other countries first… Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, Fiji, and I’m always looking for more. I am glad we didn’t buy property – and it’s not likely we ever will buy something in Thailand. The risks are just too high with the present state of things.

If I was single – I’d probably not even be thinking about this… I’d just wait to see what happens. Those of you that have family in Thailand are probably thinking more about this issue.

Feel free to write me email if you don’t want to respond in the comments section. Keep in mind that I’ll edit comments when necessary.

German Beaten by Patong Beach Phuket Tuk Tuk Drivers – Is Thailand Safe?

You probably think I’m going to rant and rave about how Thais are beating the hell out of a farang that didn’t deserve it.

Nope.

I don’t know what happened in this latest incident, and neither do you. Do you realize how dorked up information can get by the time it reaches the press?

It’s 11pm in Patong Beach. The German guy that was beat up – and his wife, were both drunk (so the story says). They refused to pay a 200 baht fare for going about 800 meters in a tuk-tuk. The German guy insisted he was only paying 100 THB. Now, maybe that’s what they had agreed to before they got into the tuk-tuk, and maybe not. Maybe the German guy said – 100 THB – the tuk-tuk driver said, “OK”.

They took off, the tuk-tuk guy dropped them off where they wanted (Tai Pan Disco) and said – “200 Baht”. The German guy, not understanding that this is a typical Tuk-Tuk ploy, telling each passenger at the end of the ride that it was agreed upon to give 100 THB for EACH passenger, not both. The German guy insists he’s not giving more than 100 THB. He pushes the Thai guy down supposedly – and well, that’s a real dumb move when in Thailand and surrounded by Thais in Patong Beach at 11 pm at night. Actually, that’s a dumb fucking move anywhere you are in the world over 3 dollars. You’d have to be a complete idiot to do something like that over 100 THB. If it’s true, how that guy ever made it into his 50’s is well beyond me.

This German guy is in the hospital with a bleeding brain because of $3 fucking dollars USD. Hello? Anybody home?

Not to call the German guy a dumbass – because I don’t know how the deal really went down, but, when you come to Thailand you can expect to:

1. Have differences of opinion.

2. Have misunderstandings.

3. Pay more than you want to sometimes because you don’t understand the country and how things work.

That’s just the reality of it. If the German guy had said, loudly – 100 THB for both my wife and myself to go to Tai Pan. The Thai guy probably wouldn’t have tried to get 200 THB. That’s just my experience. I’ve never had a problem in this area… guys I know that have lived in Thailand for some time – also understand the game, and they don’t leave the deal hanging in the air – they clarify – and make it very clear – it’s 100 THB for “ALL OF US” or me and my friend, or whatever it is.

Because this German couple didn’t understand the game, it isn’t their fault either. The Tuk-Tuk guy could have explained – or tried – and that’s the best he could do. Do tuk-tuk guys try to get 100 THB off tourists when they can – sure they do sometimes.

Farangs that get violent with Thais first – never cease to amaze me. Just what the hell do you have to be smoking or shooting up to hit a Thai person first and then think you’re going to walk away a winner?

Not going to happen, not in this lifetime, and this German guy may yet find that out.

It’s a sad state of things in Patong Beach, Pattaya, for sure. These kinds of stupid interactions between tourists and taxi-drivers don’t need to be happening. Someone should straighten shit out down there. For the ultimate resource on the island, read more about Phuket here.

Will it happen?

Hell no.

Not in my lifetime, or yours.

Is Thailand safe?

You’re safe as a kitten here if you’re not foolish and take a lot of time to study up on how things work in Thailand. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not prone to overheating over $3 USD. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not taking chicks, ladyboys or guys back to your hotel, condo, or house. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not marrying a bargirl or someone else to whom money is everything. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re watching your drink at all times. You’re safe as a kitten if you understand how Thais drive – as  a fellow driver, and a pedestrian. You’re safe as a kitten if you don’t drink the water. You’re safe as a kitten if you watch out for exposed electrical boxes and wires. You’re safe as a kitten if you don’t overdo the Viagra or Kamagra. You’re safe as a kitten if you’re not walking with your purse exposed to motorbike thieves. You’re safe as a kitten if you…

The story – >

Thailand Scam – Farang and Thais Team Up to Scam Thai Girl

Here’s a new take on things…

Thais scam Thais all the time. I have another scam story I’ll do a video about for another time. My Thai friend lost over 1,200,000 baht to a well-planned scam.

Thais scam farangs – often. Farangs scam farangs – often. Sometimes even farangs scam Thais.

This video is about a scam by some Thais and farang – a partnership type deal, that is going on in Udonthani – and probably other places in Thailand, but in Udon it would work particularly well. The video tells why numerous girls are losing 100,000 THB at a time in Udon.

Aussie’s Car Shot at in Chiang Mai?

I didn’t see anything of this in Thailand – sure I miss stuff, but this seems like a big deal.

*****
Melbourne teacher’s car allegedly shot at in Thailand
Posted July 12, 2011 08:18:00
A Melbourne teacher was treated in hospital after her car was allegedly shot at during a school trip in the north of Thailand.
Two teachers, from Ringwood Secondary College, were travelling in a car near Chiang Mai when the front windscreen shattered on Sunday.
One of the teachers, Lynda Cody, suffered a minor injury to the back of her head.
Thai police are investigating the incident and told the teachers their car may have been shot at.
The teachers were escorting a group of students to Thailand, but none of the students was in the vehicle.
They are due to return home on Wednesday.
The assistant principal has travelled to Thailand to provide support for the teachers.

I found it here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/12/3267233.htm?site=melbourne

Update – apparently the woman was shot in the back of the head… luckily the bullet passed through glass and the headrest first before striking her! Christ, now we have this to worry about in Thailand?