Truly Thaiway

During a night drive from Phuket to Kuraburi district in Phang Nga, I had an adventure which is a nice example of the true nature of the Thai police.

Shortly before reaching the town of Thaimuang I got stuck behind a white minivan which was driving in a very erratic way. Sometimes slowing down to 40 kph, then going 90 kph, and to make things worse, the driver chose a pretty wiggly line, often driving on the wrong lane, then cutting back to the left side, often just narrowly avoiding to crash into the ditch or other cars. I didn’t dare to overtake the guy, it just seemed too dangerous, to I preferred to keep a safe distance.

We called the cops and told them exactly where we were and what we were seeing, but they failed to show up and arrest the guy. It would have been easy to set up a roadblock and stop him but nothing happened. We even passed a large police station on the way.

After some time the van stopped, and when I just wanted to pass him, he started driving again, so I was stuck again. Amazingly, he drove very fast now and went in a straight line, so I guessed there were two guys on board and the sober one had taken over. In the end, after having followed the van for about 70 kms, the van turned into a small road and vanished. It seemed as if there was only one guy, so I can’t really explain the change in driving style.

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Found in “The Bangkokian”, 18 January 2006:

The Wild Ones: Maeow and his motorcycle gang roam down a dusty road in Roi Et. Who needs helmets?Where were the traffic police on Tuesday when a mysterious marauding motorcycle gang blasted their way down a dusty road in Ban Jor Kor, Amphoe At Samart, Roi Et? The leader of this motorcycle gang is believed to be Maeow Charan 69.

A photo shows that this gang of “Wild Ones” has no respect for traffic laws. The traffic police should conduct an investigation as follows:

1. Did the leader of the motorcycle gang or any of his posse carry motorcyclist licenses? Many believe that they did not because Maeow and his gang prefer to ride in Mercedes-Benz limousines.

2. Why didn’t they wear helmets? Meow wore nothing on his head, but some gang members did sport baseball caps.

Read more open questions to be investigated…

Note: The reckless motorcycle driver in the photo is Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during his 5-day Reality TV publicity stunt in the North-eastern Thai province of Roi Et.

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Seen in Ko Kret, Nonthaburi province, Thailand

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An entrace gate to a house in Ko Kret, Nonthaburi province, Thailand

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On Saturday I had the pleasure to ride in a really amazing taxi. Some people’s cars seem to reflect their owners’ character, but I’m sure this one’s got a personality of its own…

Taxi Taxi

Check out more photos…

» Read more about Crazy Taxi


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Our good friend, Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, finally has found a good reason not to talk to the media… (from USA Today):

Planets block press access

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says he won’t answer questions from reporters until next year because the alignment of the planets is not in his favor.

“Right now Mercury … is in a corner perfectly aligned with my star. Mercury is no good, so if it’s not good, I am going to request not to speak,” Thaksin told reporters Sunday.

Mercury moves slowly and will not steer clear of his star until next year, he said.

Thaksin has shown hostility toward the media since taking office in 2001, and critics accuse him of trying to restrict press freedoms by manipulating coverage, canceling TV and radio shows, and using media takeovers by his political and business allies.

This evasion tactics surely won’t have anything to do with the recent allegations by ally-turned-archrival Sondhi Limthongkul, the CEO of Manager Media Group… right? 😉

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TV Smith’s Dua Sen has some funny revelations about Malaysian taxi drivers. Bangkok may not be as neat as Kuala Lumpur, but it’s good to know their taxi drivers are just as annoying as ours… in that sense Malaysian taxi drivers are Truly Thailay.

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Another impressive example of Tinglish (they mean “check your belongings”):
Seen on a longtail boat in Krabi, Thailand

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The beauty of good Tinglish amazes me all the time. Amazing Thailand – Truly Thaiway…
Don't Be Closed!!!
Seen on Phu Kradueng, Loei province, Thailand

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Last week I bought a book at a local bookstore which explains most of the things foreigner find hard to understand here. According to the author, even most Thai people have no idea about some details of their cultural background. The book is well written and made me understand some of the things which are – Truly Thaiway…
The title is “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture”, it is written by Philip Cornwell-Smith and John Goss.

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Thailand has a pretty, uhm, graphic way of warning consumers that smoking causes cancer… as also pointed out by boingboing, this is what cigarette packs look like in Thailand:
Thailand Cancer Warning
Actually, it is also illegal to display cigarettes visibly in the stores. Apart from this, it is illegal to smoke in air-conditioned areas (even bars or restaurants) unless a high-capacity ventilation system is installed.

Thailand’s not exactly a fun place for smokers.

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Loy Krathong (or Loi Kratong) is one of the most important Thai festivals. You could call it the festival of lights. The festival falls on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, which is usually in November. This festival is performed to reduce bad luck and to apologize to the river goddess. More on the backgrounds of the festival tomorrow.
» Read more about Get Ready for Loy Krathong

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It’s a (small) disaster constantly waiting to happen. Bangkok’s roads are mostly very good, but certain areas are just dreadful, and the sidewalks are even worse.

What am I talking about?

Well, the sidewalks are very uneven. Their foundation is usually nothing more but sand, which tends to get washed away gradually when it rains. Motorcycles and sometimes even cars using these unstable sidewalks doesn’t help either. As a result, the sidewalks get really bumpy, so you’ll trip all the time. Even worse, they sometimes collapse, so you’ll have a gaping hole in the middle of the sidewalk which can get up to a foot deep. Not too nice when it’s dark.

A Hole in the GroundThis can even happen on the roads. As I mentioned on the way to Ko Kret, my friend stepped into hole in the road which she couldn’t see because it was filled with murky water from the heavy rain. It looked like a simple puddle, but it was more than a foot deep.

On the way to her house, I saw a motorcycle leaving a gas station. On the exit from the gas station to the street there was a large puddle the motorcycle had to pass through. Turns out there was a hole hidden below the surface of the water and the driver found it. His front wheel got stuck in the hole and he had to get off the bike and pull it out again.

A friend told me a story about how he passed a soi one day where he spotted a taxi which was stuck. The front part of the car was completely submerged in the water, so that must’ve been a hell of a hole.

My lesson: try never to walk or drive through puddles, even if they look harmless…

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R-U-GOA nice little piece of “Tinglish” (Thai English) I found in R-U-GO magazine (which calls itself “The first in-flight and ground service magazine). You can find it in some of Bangkok’s Taxis. Enjoy…

» Read more about What to do in Hua Hin

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