There is a Pecking Order on Thai Roads
Here is the order of rank as I’ve seen it.
GOD is at the top and it goes down 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. They can become 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 else’s.
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 endangered 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 stoplight 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 accommodate 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 hierarchy. 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 ThaiPulse.com 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 clicking the CAUTIONS link at the top of the page.