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.

 

Driving in Thailand – Video & Collection of Articles

I don’t enjoy driving a car in Thailand. A motorbike, to me, is fine. I feel much safer. I know that sounds strange. I’ve driven motorcycles in Thailand for almost 7 years now and put over 120,000 km on various bikes. I’ve had 1 mishap where the woman in front of me slammed her car brakes for no reason that I could see – and I scraped her back bumper and rear quarter-panel. I paid her 2,000 THB.

Recently I’ve been driving a car some. It is not any fun at all to me. I made a video about it so I don’t bore you with writing it all out.. See it below the links to other articles about Driving in Thailand I’ve written over the years. I’ve also included a couple other links to articles by other Thailand bloggers that wrote on this subject – and that I enjoyed reading.

  1. Driving a Motorbike in Thailand (Video) I found this video on YouTube. It’s designed to show…
  2. Driving a Car is a Horrorshow in Thailand  We’re buying another motorbike. We gave the 4 year old…
  3. Thailand Motorcycle Driving: Keeping Your Brain in Your Head  During this morning’s motorcycle trip to a city 170 km…
  4. Driving During the Holidays, Thai Attitudes  Just like Americans – I guess Thais are stressed during…
  5. Thailand Roadkill… YOU! (Driving in Thailand) As you travel Thailand and see all the wonderful wildlife…
  6. Thai Driving Habits – Can They Ever Be Changed? – Brunty from Isaanstyle
  7. Driving in Thailand – Steve at ThailandMusings
  8. Riding a Taxi Motorcycle in Bangkok Traffic – with video, by Ben Shingleton at the ThaiPirate blog.

 

And a very nice video that relates to cars and driving because it is a car audio show…

Driving in Thailand – the Essentials Video

Driving a car in Thailand

If you’re going to be coming to Thailand and do any driving yourself – watch this video.

If you know someone that will be driving in Thailand – send this video about driving in Thailand to them.

I shot this on the way to somewhere I had to drive to today. It’s about 9 minutes long – but packed with good information. If you have had different experiences than I have – leave a comment. If you have had worse experiences than I have – leave a comment – I’d love to hear about them.

I have written many articles about driving in Thailand – mostly as a motorbike rider. Now that I drive a car occasionally I can write from that perspective as well. It’s scary. It’s downright ridiculous…

Much better said in the video below…

Driving a Car is a Horrorshow in Thailand

We’re buying another motorbike. We gave the 4 year old Yamaha MIO with 90,000 KM (one rebuilt engine) to my wife’s aunt on our trip to the northeast. That made me feel good. I don’t make big bank, but, the woman is about 70 and driving a Yamaha from 25 years ago. She has trouble starting it – and could use the electric starter of the MIO to her advantage. Damn I hate to see people suffer through a penniless state.

We got a car, and since i’m the only driver – if you can call me that without cracking a fucking rib laughing – I’ve been driving all over the place.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Thais behind the wheel are completely intolerable on a 1 lane road, and complete fuckmonkeys on a 2 or 2+ lane road.

Yes, this is another Vern rant on Thai people that don’t know what in the world they are doing.

It’s half expected… I mean, Thais have not been driving for too many generations now. But, with the recent advent of 14 million tourists visiting the country, and the rubber prices going through the roof – many people can afford cars. Oh – and credit… if a Thai has a job – the employer can fake a receipt showing years of steady work at a rate the employee will never see in his/her life – and get the car of their dreams in just a couple of days.

Anyway… If you’re contemplating driving in Thailand I strongly suggest you reconsider.

Thais are probably the most ignorant fucking drivers you’ll ever come across. In Thailand. I haven’t driven everywhere… but, in the USA I drove in New York, Miami, Tampa, Honolulu, and Los Angeles a few times. Thai drivers are more fucked up than all of that put together.

I am not embellishing for the laughs either – they are horrendous godawful drivers.

I drove a motorbike in Thailand for 6 years with one minor accident my first year – when a car in front of me – a new driver from a city far from where we were, MASHED the brakes for no reason whatsoever and I swerved and caught the left bumper of her car. I gave her 2,000 THB for a 1,000 THB repair and we said our goodbyes.

Now, I’ve had some near misses on the motorbike that curled my toe-nails. I have had a couple of instances of escaping INSTANT death at 100+ Km/hour on the motorbike… but, since I’m usually paying attention – I lived.

Ok, back to driving vehicles.

Thais can’t follow a curve for SHIT.

That’s saying it VERY politely.

They cannot stay in their lane around a curve of any sort. Just know that – and adjust EVERY time you go around a curve.

If you are beside a vehicle in your vehicle and the idiot next to you puts their turn signal on – regardless whether the fuck they can move over in front of you safely or not, they are going to try. If you don’t adjust and compensate for the assmonkey that’s cutting you off – you will have an accident, and since you are farang – well, you have probably heard how that goes by now.

Thais park wherever the fuck they want to. We pulled into a bank parking lot today. It goes under the building. Bam… some jackass has parked right in the middle of the lane – so their car could be in the shade – there was plenty of room in the back where the sun was shining brightly – but this numbnuts parked right there under the building, blocking not only all traffic coming in – but, 4 cars that, if they wanted to pull out – could not.

To top this off – some ass-strap was hired to DIRECT PARKING in the parking lot!!!!!!! Yeah, so this dumbfucker is getting my 2 minute 45 second stare as I cannot come to grips with how he let someone park in the middle of the fucking road. How does he do that? Fire that jackfruit and make him go do night security where he can sleep off his stupidity.

Today was a real lively experience.

Today I had an 18 wheel truck – which I was in the middle of – at about the 20 foot mark (they are 40+ feet)… start coming over into my lane because the fucker didn’t want to slow down for slower traffic in his lane.

Know this – there isn’t a fuckhead driving a big truck in Thailand that:

1. Knows what the hell they’re doing behind the wheel of a large KILLER truck.
2. Cares whether or not you go flying over the median trying to avoid tires that are higher than your car.
3. Isn’t on meth and with piss-poor judgement.

Know this – Thailand is a country built on agriculture. There are so damn many big fucking trucks lugging palm seeds, and fuckknowswhat, up and down the highways – at all hours – and you cannot have a decent drive without dealing with hundreds of them fucking up the fast lanes of the country as you go from province to province.

We drove from Ubon to southern Thailand and it was horrific. It was like every jackmonkey with a fucking cracker jack license to haul buffalo shit in the 2 dump-truck Killer Trucks was on the road every fucking time we got in our car to drive.

Solution:

We are buying another motorbike and driving that anywhere we need to go within 150 KM. That’s IT. I am so fucking over driving imposters manning vehicles they couldn’t have possibly qualified to drive. I just know I’m going to pull someone out of their truck and beat them with an idiot stick.

Oh, and just for the record, driving a motorbike in Thailand – is about twenty fucking nine times safer than driving any vehicle in the auto lanes. I was worried that our daughter (16 months) was facing more danger on a motorbike!

Hell no!

It’s significantly worse driving anything in the auto lanes.

Trust me.

Someone please back me the fuck up on this.

Please.

Brunty? You had about 185 near accidents yet as you drove your VIOS over the past couple years?

Yet ANOTHER Bus Overturns in Thailand – Killing 5, Injuring 30

I don’t take buses in Thailand. Ever. I just refuse. The last time I was on a bus, it was for an English camp about 4 years ago. We, and all the M3 kids, were headed on a 400km journey that was straight from a Rod Serling script. It was fucking outrageous the way the bus driver was driving.

I was seating immediately in back of him – so I saw it all from his perspective. He was racing with the other buses in the convoy – trading places dozens of times as one “outsmarted” (outrisked) the other. It was  a fucking horrorshow – no less.

I made over 50 comments to the guy – in Thai and told him to relax and drive like a normal person – we had like 60 kids in the bus and nobody wanted to die that night – except maybe him.

He was fuming by the end of it because when I comment – I can be pretty harsh. I brought his driving to the attention of all the Thai teachers on the bus – who, of course – raised their eyebrows but dared not say a word to the driver. That isn’t “Thai style” as you might know.

So – from that day forward I didn’t take a Thailand bus any damn place it is MUCH too dangerous in my opinion.

Do you know how many buses overturn in this country? Jesus. I wish now I had kept track. I guess I could track it by Google searches and find a portion of them – most I probably miss. I don’t scour the news for these accidents – but, they are constantly getting my attention because they are so horrific.

For transportation here is what I recommend:

1 – Plane

2 – Train

3 – Taxi driver in a car

4 – Rent your own car

5 – Motorbike if you are a skilled rider – or, very cautious.

I would never recommend you take those vans either. My recent trip on one to Phuket was a frightfest. We saw someone in a Mercedes in front of us go crashing aimlessly up over the center median and into a thick tree – head on at about 120kph. Probably fell asleep.

The roads in Thailand are scary to me – and should be scary to you.

The bus drivers that are crashing the buses in Thailand are either:

  • Overworked
  • Overwork themselves
  • On narcotics
  • Drunk
  • In competition with someone
  • In competition with the clock
  • Mentally unstable

I wouldn’t trust my life to one of them – I suggest you don’t either.

Here is the article about the latest bus crash and fatalities:

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/5-killed-30-injured-in-bus-accident-30146461.html

Disclaimer – I am speaking of the A/C VIP buses and not the local Thai buses – which, for the most part – go very slow and are not involved in the tragic accidents of the scale the VIP buses are. The overnight buses, and those that run at night – are more dangerous than the daytime buses. If it is raining and you are about to take a bus, cancel and reschedule. Really, that is my advice. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Stop for a Deadly Accident in Thailand? Nope.

We were taking a van from Krabi to Phuket. I hate taking vans or buses – or any damn thing really where a Thai is driving me around because all van drivers, bus drivers, and taxi drivers that I’ve experienced in 6 years – could give two shits for safety. That’s not a joke – that’s my opinion 100%.

We were 10 minutes from the Phuket airport. I’m in the first row of passenger seats holding our 1 year old and my wife beside me. The driver was a total fuckoff from the time we got in. He knows the road – that’s obvious. What he doesn’t know is any out of the ordinary circumstances that could have happened since the last time he drove the road. He drove with absolutely ZERO margin for error.

He took almost every single bend at 120 KPH. Many of the bends were marked – 60 KPH. Sure – 60 KPH is a joke too as they can be taken at 80 or 90 maybe, safely. Not 120 though, of that I’m sure.

So – we were just minutes from the airport when our driver said – OH!!! Loud – and I was also looking at the road ahead and saw a big dirt cloud kick up about 150m ahead of us as a Red Mercedes launched itself up over a 10 inch curb up onto a hill median with trees and SLAMMED into a tree. There was no other car around that one that crashed. The driver likely just fell asleep.

Our driver was all worked up about it – as we drove by. We could plainly see – someone was really hurt in that vehicle and yet all he did was beep a couple of times – for what reason – I’m clueless… We drove right to the airport and he dropped us off.

Did he stop to help the people in the accident? Fuck no. Would you want someone to stop to help you if someone saw you drive your car into a tree at 100 KPH?

Yeah, me too.

I don’t know what the law is in Thailand about stopping for accidents you didn’t cause – but, this is about the 4th one I’ve seen while driving with someone else  – in which the driver didn’t stop at all.

This one was pretty tragic, but I’ve also seen some horrible accidents before this that my driver didn’t stop for.

Anyone else have that experience in Thailand?

I’m not saying nobody stops – there were people outside their houses and store already when we drove by the totaled vehicle – but nobody was making a run toward it either.

WTF?

Driving a Motorbike in Thailand (Video)

Deadly motorbike accidents happen like this all over Thailand.
Deadly motorbike accidents happen like this all over Thailand.

I found this video on YouTube. It’s designed to show the dangers of driving a motorbike in Thailand.

So many tourists who’ve never ridden more than a bicycle hop right on a 115-125cc motorbike here and drive all over heavy traffic tourist areas like Phuket, Pattaya, Ao Nang and Chiang Mai. Over four years I’ve seen some horrible accidents involving motorbikes. Really, the most extreme accidents you could imagine. I’ve seen brains on the highway coming out of a girls head. I’ve seen many people dead in the road as a result of motorcycle accidents here.

I’ve even had a friend crash one night and end up needing a couple brain surgeries to take pieces of his cranium out of his brain. This happened in Ubon Ratchathani. There were cats walking around the patients in intensive care. While in the hospital that first night I saw a few people die… including a young child.

They say during this movie that in Phuket, Thailand an average of one person per day dies in a motor-vehicle accident. I’d say that’s about right. It’s wrong, but it’s accurate if you know what I’m saying.

Anyway, here’s the video:

Driving Motorbikes safely in Thailand

Accidents in Thailand: Accidents happen when they want… yeah, Jing Jing!

Accidents in Thailand
Accidents in Thailand:
On the Road or Hiking in the Forest…

Accidents happen anytime. Never planned for and not able to be seen before they happen. They’re not logical. You can’t not wear your helmet because you think you won’t have an accident going a short distance. Many accidents happen on short trips.

Since being in Asia I’ve seen the results of many motorbike accidents… victims laying in the road still… nobody moves them… they are usually bleeding from some orifice, but not always. Sometimes you’d guess they’re sleeping. There is no attempt made by bystanders to revive the person or wake them if they happen to be just unconscious and not dead yet. I’ve not seen any efforts anyway.

After an accident they linger around just standing by the person or persons that are dead or unconscious. They don’t look at the person and often times they are laughing softly.

The Thais’ have a culture that accepts death more easily than we westerners do. They believe it’s karmic fate – a buddhist concept – and that if it’s time, it’s time. There is no sense worrying about when it will come -it will just come. This attitude is reflected in their driving. Many drive montorcycles or cars and trucks without regard to themselves or others.

In America everything is more dramatic. If we have an accident there we have people screaming, we have 19 police, firemen, ambulance, onlookers… everyone taking part in the drama. The Thais’ just wait for a pickup truck to come and pick up the body or the unconscious person and take him/her to the hospital.

I spent a night in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a major hospital in the northeast of Thailand just a couple months ago. I was there from 6 pm until 8 am the next morning. I was there because my American friend had a motorbike accident at 2 in the morning and ran into 3 Thai teenagers on a motorbike. Not sure what happened but witnesses said the 3 teens didn’t have lights on their motorcycle at the time of the accident. My friend went to the ICU unconscious and didn’t wake up for 6 hours. Anyway, this story isn’t about that.

So, sitting in his room in the ICU I keep seeing a dog come into where the patients are. One of the staff brought her dog to work as she usually did. In America even unclean people are not allowed in the ICU. Usually visitors can stay only minutes before being rushed out. Here my friend was in an ICU room with a dog visitor. Incredible. Then I saw a cat. No lie… Anyway – the animals stayed out of his area.

As I sat there that night I watched 4 people die on the tables. Particularly disturbing was a child, a girl about 9 years old. When she was brought in she was not breathing. She had a cervical collar on her neck and they were squeezing a plastic balloon to fill her lungs with air. Apparently her heart was still beating because I could read the heart rate monitor and see when it changed. The HRM went to zero multiple times during their efforts and they switched from chest compressions and breathing help to just breathing help as her own heart began to beat. I could also see her breathing rate monitor and sometimes she was OK and sometimes nothing.

Sometimes her breathing was OK on her own and her heart wouldn’t beat… so they did chest compressions. They did this for 30 minutes until the doctor there told them to stop. The heart did not show any signs of improvement. They then used the electrical stimulation to attempt to start the heart, and tried multiple times – but nothing worked. The doctor then said “die”, took out a form and wrote down time of death. They took her pulse in neck and wrist. They checked the monitor. Nothing for heart rate… but, the girls chest was still going up and down a little bit. The breathing rate monitor said 12 for a while after they stopped chest compressions… then 10…9.. 4… and then finally zeroed after over 30 minutes.

The mom, father and sister arrived just as they were pronouncing the girl dead… and they watched as the breathing slowed down to nothing. The mom was crying – but not sobbing. Just quiet tears and holding onto her husband tightly. The father cried lightly. The sister was in shock and didn’t cry just held onto the parents and looked wide eyed at her sister covered over by the sheet.

Accidents are anytime and absolutely any place. .

I drove to a waterfall 2 weeks ago. As we were just getting started across this open field we saw this house (see photo) with a tree that had fallen through it years ago. We then heard a loud ripping of something through the forest and coming down the hill. Just in back of us – 20 meters away was a large roundish boulder that shot out of the woods and flew across the freshly mowed lawn. Had we been any slower one of us might be dead…

So… wear your helmet. Use your belt. Take your kids to see an ICU ward or a mortuary sometime. Give them a taste of death… the hollowness… the suddenness… the unexplainable taste that will put the fear of caution in them.

Thailand Roadkill… YOU! (Driving in Thailand)

As you travel Thailand and see all the wonderful
wildlife and soi-dogs that become grey mush roadkill
you might want to consider that a disproportionately
high number of farangs BECOME that roadkill here.

I don’t want to put you into a panic over getting into
an accident here in Thailand… but, if you do become
involved in one, you might end up as roadkill.

Frog roadkill could be YOU in Thailand

I heard ANOTHER story last night from a friend
about teaching at a university here in Surat. After
new years holiday break he had a class – and someone
was absent. He asked where the girl was… they said,
she had an accident on the motorbike over the New
Years… but she was alive and in the hospital…

Then the next class there was a boy missing… when
he asked where he was… he was dead. Motorbike
accident over New Years.

The class then told him that the boy and girl were
boyfriend and girlfriend. And then, they filled him in
on what happened…

Apparently one of the large dumptrucks that run
around here and blow their banshee horns cut them
off as they were riding their motorbike. It knocked
them off the bike and messed them up really good.

The truck driver, on seeing that they WEREN’T
dead then tried to back the truck overtop of them
to make SURE they WERE dead.

The boy and girl tried desperately to get out of the
way, and the boy ended up sacrificing his life for
his girlfriend because he pushed her far enough
out of the way that she lived…

the dumptruck STILL ran over her leg, crushing
it and later it needed to be amputated at the
knee… but the boy was killed right there, having
taken the full weight of a few of the wheels.
These trucks weigh 10 tons or so (empty).

There is some good news – there were witnesses
to this and so the guy ended up in prison over it.

THIS HAPPENS HERE!

It is NOT urban legend.

I have heard this not only DIRECTLY from 3
different people. But, there are articles in THE
NATION newspaper about it from time to time,
reminding people to get off the street if it
happens to you!

Last year there was an article that a BUS DRIVER
in Bangkok did the SAME THING! He then ran
away from the scene – but was later caught and
faced jail.

He tried this in BANGKOK in the CITY!

Advice:
If you are in an accident of any sort,
and you are not at fault… or even maybe if you
are, you need to drag yourself to a safe place
and call someone, scream like you are crazy or
do anything to attract others’ attention.

People at fault in a motor vehicle accident
here may face a court case over it. If they
LOSE – they may have to pay the
person(s) injured over the REST OF
THEIR LIFETIME!

Apparently this is motivation and
justification ENOUGH for some people to
want to finish the job and kill someone
that they injured… End it all right there
– no worries for the future…

Mai Pen Rai Kuuuupppp…

BE CAREFUL ON THE MOTORBIKE!
Or, WALKING!
Or, Bicycling!
Or, in your small car!

But, by all means – if you’ve got a big truck
you go ahead and do ANYTHING at all
you feel like doing because you’re
probably not going to die for doing it…

That is, unless you hear the sound of
DEATH itself… that farking banshee
horn going off behind you from one of
those YABA fueled 10 ton dump trucks.

Sawasdee Krup…

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting Thailand Survival Guide 101.

Thai Black Book.

For a current state of the country – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information site- >