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Driving in Thailand.
Driving in Thailand
Many people like the thrill of riding fast motorbikes and driving rally cars, some enjoy driving 4 X 4 vehicles in wild terrain at speed or just seeing how fast their 10 year old car can go, whilst others prefer a complicated game of Mah Jong or chess, maybe even the occasional game of Russian roulette. The psychology of Thai drivers includes all these traits and more.
Driving in Thailand is not for the feint-hearted. If you happen to be from one of the few countries in the world who drive on the Left side of the road you have a slight mechanical advantage because you are used to driving on the “wrong side of the road,” and with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side, but even these benefits will not help you much in Thailand.
Whilst the laws of the road are very similar to your home country’s, the Rules of Engagement are quintessentially and pragmatically Thai. Compared with Western countries the passing of a driving test is a minor formality which takes around 10 minutes in a car park with red cones. Until you pass this “test” you can drive anyway without ‘L’ plates if you are with another driver.
The general knowledge of any sort of Highway Code is virtually non-existent and such things as undertaking at speed and a total lack of signalling, even when turning across several lanes of traffic is normal practice.
In towns and cities motorbikes will cut you up left and right at the same time. Another will probably pull out in front of you and expect you to stop for it, whilst pedestrians weaving between traffic queues do not seem to notice cars or motorbikes heading for them at 50 kms per hour and only inches away.
In country districts where the roads or tracks seem to be appallingly potholed in places, any rules of the road are entirely forgotten by the local drivers who have been driving round these hazards for years. They will of course use the bit of the road without holes which may or may not be the correct one. It is possible to find yourself on entirely the wrong side whilst someone going in the opposite direction passes you on his wrong side. 4 X 4 vehicles are a must for country tracks as cars suspensions and ground clearance just won’t cope.
If you have a driving licence from your own country as well as an international one, you have the patience of a holy-man, have eyes in the back of your head, the reflexes of Michael Schumacher in a Formula 1 Farrari, a crystal ball for checking out the local traffic and to make sure that the ‘puddle’ in front of you is not a metre deep, then you may wish to come to South-East Asia to check out this dangerous pastime. It’s actually very good fun!
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