Accidents in Thailand? Get Away from the Street!

I watched a youtube video of a traffic accident from Bangkok, Thailand not long ago.

Thailand Car Accident Video at Youtube – amazing footage…

Someone was filming the aftermath of an accident at night when there was another accident as someone ran directly into the pickup truck that was taking away the wrecked motorbike in the first accident. More people were hit (killed?) the vehicle hit hard and more people were needlessly hurt.

Yesterday I was riding the motorbike and saw a truck run up over the median, knock over a tree, and spin around to face oncoming traffic where another car hit it. The woman, her leg injured, got out of the truck and hobbled across the street to get help.

I sat and watched for a second from the side of the road away from the traffic that was building up. Many people were standing on the street to see it. Cars were slowing down… Then a huge double dumptruck came flying up the road – oblivious to what was going on – as they usually are. He beeped his horn as if he expected the stalled truck to get out of his way. He then ran directly into the truck, smashing the hell out of it and almost flipping it on it’s side. What was originally a couple thousand dollars in damage (usd) was now an absolutely totaled truck – $25,000 total loss.

Amazing drivers here in Thailand. Be careful, get AWAY from whatever accident you see because there may be another one shortly. If you’re too close – you might become part of it.

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- >

Riding Motorcycles in Thailand (Long Distance Trips)

Yamaha Mio, Thailand
I love riding the motorcycle (motorsai, motorbike) all over Thailand. I have not ever rented a car in the almost 3 years I’ve been here.

I bought a new Mio “ZR” (I think is the model), when they came out last year and it’s basically like a moped. Nothing new to learn. If you can ride a bicycle you can ride a Yamaha Mio.

I’ve not met anyone that goes the places I do on my motorcycle. In the states I’ve had motorcycles on and off, sometimes I told my family about them and sometimes not. Usually not since the older brother of a friend on the street where I grew up smashed headfirst into a telephone pole and killed himself and his best-friend passenger.

I don’t like driving a car in Thailand for a number of reasons:

  • The car to me is MORE dangerous because I don’t know if it’s been maintained properly. In Thailand my automatic guess is that it has NOT. Thais’ DON’T take care of their vehicles – as a rule. As the LAW actually. I think they’re prohibited from doing simple oil changes and spark plug changes, brake checks, etc.
  • The car is more of a liability to me because if I crash it I’ll pay a lot more.
  • It’s easier to hit people on the motorcycles since they’re everywhere and sometimes unpredictable.
  • The trucks, buses, other cars and other trucks are less forgiving with other cars on the road than they are with motorbikes. I think the theory is that – people in vehicles KNOW they can easily kill someone on the motorcycle and they’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in their lifetimes so they’re more careful, and give more leeway.
  • With a car I can’t just park ANYWHERE like I do with the motorcycle. I can’t just stop anywhere I want either which is pretty Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for me because I love to take digital photos and when I see something that is interesting I MUST stop and see – just how interesting is it? During a 2 hour trip on the motorbike I might stop 2-10 times for photos and/or digital video.
  • I’m a bit leery of sitting on the right side of the car and driving on the left side of the road. With the motorcycle I learned the drive on the left side part – no worries. I’ve only had a few near misses as I drove head on into traffic when my mind switched countries for a few seconds.

I’ve driven the motorcycle all over Thailand and I’ve had a blast. I’ve gone from Bangkok to Surat Thani, Surat Thani to Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat to Krabi, Krabi to Patong, Patong to Phangna, Phangna to Surat, Pattaya to Bangkok, Ubon to Khon Kaen and back, Ubon to Chong Mek (Laos border crossing), Ubon to Sisaket to Surin to Buriram to Chantaburi to Rayong and back to Pattaya, Surat Thani to Ko Samui and back many times.

I’ve gone so many places and I rarely ever see a farang on a motorcycle. During any long trip – 4 hours or more I might see one. Usually it’s a guy and he’s on a rented Harley style motorbike. It’s good to see SOMEONE else on a motorcycle and it makes me wonder WHERE IS EVERYONE ELSE?

Don’t tourists take short day trips to different places around Thailand without going by car, van, bus or train? There’s a lot of freedom in taking the motorcycle as you can stop anywhere you choose, go as far as you want in one day or stop 3 times during the day, stay overnight in a small town and meet cool people… everything is “up to you”, which is what I like.

I’ve taken a large backpack, a small backpack and another medium sized backpack on the motorbike when I go someplace long distance. The big backpack fits on the floor of the Mio – it’s flat and you can jam the backpack down in there. It comes up to about your seat level. Then I put another backpack on top of that one and put one on my back. I only need one waterproof cover for the backpack on the top of the big one because the Mio’s shell protects the big bag from rain and the one on my back is blocked by my body. My body doesn’t get that wet because the small bag is in front of my chest and blocking the rain, and my legs are covered by the Mio shell. My arms get wet, that’s about it… unless it’s really pouring hard – then I stop anyway.

Caveman stoplight (traffic light) in ThailandFor me the best thing about riding the motorcycle instead of a car or other form of transportation is that I get to see places that I wouldn’t otherwise. I have gone up and down streets of towns just to see what’s there. I’ve pulled into dirt roads that had a sign for a Wat (temple) that I’d never have gone down with a rental car and that nobody would take me to if I was in public transportation.

I don’t know how many temples I’ve seen as a result of just spontaneously turning off the road to explore them but I guess maybe I’ve seen 100 temples in nearly 3 years? It seems like a lot, but man, I’ve seen a lot of temples. I try not to miss one. I remember one place I was up on a hill at a temple and I looked down into the city below… I counted 17 separate temples… so I had to go find all of them and take photos.

Some people think that the motorcycles are not safe to ride here. Most people don’t go over 40-50 kilometers on their motorcycle in Thailand. Even grown guys in their 20’s and 30’s. Why IS that? I worked with some teachers in Suratthani that just refused to take the motorcycle anywhere further than about 50km. There were SO many waterfalls and caves that could be found if one just went a bit outside that 50km radius. Some did, but overall it sounded like nobody really had fun riding that far. I don’t know, for me – the journey is half or more of the trip. Sometimes it’s the ENTIRE point of the trip since Thailand is not known for it’s road signs. I’ve ventured off to find a waterfall or hotspring many times and been disappointed to find no signs, and no local Thai people that could tell me WHERE the attraction was. Seriously, sometimes they could be living next to the waterfall and not be able to tell you where it is. My Thai is decent now, it’s not a language thing – It’s a Thai thing. No signs, if there are signs they’ll almost never (90%) tell you HOW FAR you have to drive…

Anyway… so sometimes the point of the trip becomes the trip itself. How fun is it in a car or van or bus? For me not fun at all. I hate the way Thais drive vans and buses in this country – so much so that I refuse to ride in another one. So many brainless moves I’ve seen and I’ve nearly become a statistic. Seriously consider any other option avaialable to you when you travel – even renting a motorcycle and going!

Motorcycle travel in Thailand is exciting, adventurous, and there’s always something you see that is better than you’d see riding in a car or other vehicle since you can go more places more easily… spontaneously… that’s the key for me – being able to see something and GO. Must be the Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)!

The other key for me is being in control of my vehicle. I trust myself so much more than I trust anyone else. I also know that my motorcycle is checked every 2000 km at the Yamaha dealer. I make sure they check things that they wouldn’t normally check. The brakes on the Mio are fairly good with the disc brake in front, but a dual-disc brake motorcycle would be even better if you can find one.

Ok then – take a motorcycle around Thailand, you’ll see so much that you probably wouldn’t see otherwise. You’ll meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise. You’ll take photos you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

You’ll enjoy the TRIP as much as the destination in some cases!
Other articles I’ve written about driving in Thailand:

Motorbike Driving in Thailand >

Driving in Thailand: Motorbikes, Cars, Trucks, GOD!

Thailand’s Roadkill… YOU!

Article written by Jason at Isaan Style about a Girl in Accident with Motorbike


Driving in Thailand: Motorbike, Car, Trucks, GOD.

Driving in Thailand: Motorbike, car, trucks heirarchy

There is a pecking order on the roads…

Here is the order of rank as I’ve seen it

GOD is at the top and it goes downward from there…

Double Dump Trucks – GOD
Single Dump Trucks – GOD
VIP Buses – Think they are GOD, until faced with GOD
City Buses
Large privately owned trucks: Large Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis, Fords
Smaller privately owned trucks
Vans – the Van taxis full of 12 foreigners going somewhere FAST.
Vans – all others
Large cars
Smaller cars
Large motorbikes – Harley Davidson copies from Honda or China no-name
3 Wheeled Motorbikes (cart attached that they sell from)
150cc Motorbikes – a bit larger than 125’s. More reclining forward postures
125cc to 100cc Motorbikes
Pedestrians old or young, no matter – they are the bottom. The roadkill if they aren’t careful.

99% of the time I travel in Thailand for the last year, has been by motorbike. I NEVER take a bus now. After 9 or so scary experiences on buses, the most recent having been on a chartered bus FULL of 14 and 15 year olds going and returning from English camp 250km away from our school, I got smart.

I would MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH rather die or become crippled from my own stupidity than someone elses.

Dying because a bus driver full of kids gets upset that he can’t follow the bus in front of him and makes aggressive passes when he can PLAINLY see oncoming traffic – but he jumps into that lane anyway and forces those oncoming cars off the road into the motorbike lane at the last second… is not going to happen to me.

I’m DONE with buses of all sorts.

I will take a motorbike over a bus any day.

I rode a 10 year old motorbike (Honda 125cc – 2 stroke TENA) from Pattaya all the way down to Surat Thani. I stopped between major cities. I think it was 1000km or so, I figured it out once, but I forget exactly.

Once you learn the rules of the road here in Thailand I don’t think it’s that unsafe driving a motorbike here – except the stupidity of other drivers that are for some reason acting against the usual rules.

Most everyone follows the usual rules. The usual rules are a bit hard to get used to, but once used to them it seems that riding the motorbike can be quite safe.

I’ve noticed a DRASTIC difference between riding in town in Ubon Ratchathani and riding here in Surat Thani in the South. In Ubon there were people that drove fast… and yet they did it in a way that was safer for everyone on the road. They went fast in the right lane which is for fast vehicles.

Here in Surat I’ve noticed the mentally deficient going 120kph on a motorbike BETWEEN me and the curb on the left side. In America, when I saw that jacka$$ at the stoplight ahead I would take the time to get in his face and perhaps beat him if it came to that. Someone that endandered me or me and my g/f while riding in a vehicle in America is going to hear it from me and probably get beat because they may not like what I have to say and give me an attitude about it.

HERE – what am I to do? Foreigners coming here to Thailand have to realize something quickly. The stuff that was done in your home country – beating some sillyfark because he just put your life in danger by being stupid – needs to be overlooked here. Mai pen rai.

My motto in the USA was – I am ALWAYS the winner.

Here – I have to revise it slightly… I am ALWAYS the loser.

In a fight, that is. There is NO WAY to WIN a fight here. Just forget the idea. Even if you win temporarily, they will return and you will probably die. If you run first – you’ll almost be the winner – but, by running and looking behind you – you are also a loser.

So – some kid flies by me and my girlfriend at 120 km per hour on my LEFT side just before I put on the blinker to make a left. It’s an enlightening experience. Death was that close. Yes, I”m certain it would have been death, or worse – permanently crippled and farked for the rest of our lives – or one of our lives.

I was enraged and immediately thought- I will kill this jacka$ before he kills someone else. As I drove on – and found him at the stop light something happened and…

I got smart.

Foreigners don’t WIN here in Thailand when fighting Thais or trying to impose our sense of right/wrong on them. We cannot. Give it up. Get smart or maybe die because you’re not smart.

Being smart is being smart for whatever situation you find yourself in. It’s being adaptable. It’s assimilating INTO the culture that you have joined, it is not expecting that culture to accomodate YOU.

So, as I pulled up behind this kid, my front tire a centimeter away from his back tire… and I realized he was about 18. He was small and I’d have beat him mercilessly for 10 minutes, maybe ending his life… I realized that if I DON’T then, in some small way, I can be a winner instead of a loser that needing to run away from any retribution that would follow.

So – I accepted right there at that moment, like my mom accepting her savior,

we’re all losers here.

Accept it and move on. If you can’t accept it – you won’t do well here.

There are lots of foreigners in the newspapers in Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Samui, Phuket and other places all over Thailand that didn’t know that one truth: we are always losers.

They didn’t know when they were alive. They don’t know now either.

BUT, YOU KNOW and can change now.

When driving – you gotta know who is above you in the heirarchy. You have to know, not because YOU believe it, because in America I was taught that everyone has equal rights on the road, except pedestrians who have the MOST rights.

You have to know because when you hear a horn behind you – and it’s a motorbike horn – you’re probably doing something that scares them and may cause an accident if you don’t conform to usual Thai driving style. Whatever that is for that situation (you must know)

If you hear a horn from a car or truck – it usually means you are in the car lane and you need to move over because they want to go past you. It’s best to move.

If you hear a GOD horn it SHOULD send shivers up and down your spine and neck… because the GODs do NOT slow down, they just give a beep before they get to where you are – if you are not out of the way by the time they get to where you are, they are there anyway and you will die for not getting out of the way.

The GODs do not brake.
The GODs do NOT swerve.

Dumptrucks are not easily driven around motorbikes and cars and so they just go straight and don’t slow down or stop. ANYTHING that is in the way must move. Or die. This is GODs law.

That’s all – just some thoughts this morning…

Here is another article about Driving in Thailand article I wrote at my web site. There are links on the page for Motorbike Riding Tips and General Driving in Thailand Tips also… Enjoy

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- >