Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Mad Dog considers a career as a Tuk Tuk driver

Transport in Thailand can be hair-raising to say the list. On Monday I spent the afternoon in a Tuk Tuk. These things are hilarious three wheel motorscooters that seem to be omnipresent in South East Asia. Most seem to be powered by smoky two stroke engines (for the petrolheads out there, I think these are triple cylinder jobs –think Kawasaki c1979). As mentioned in my previous post they are dirt cheap to hire. However potential passengers should be aware that these machines are not exactly encumbered by modern safety equipment. So don’t hail one if you are expecting seat belts, air bags, ABS brakes, crumple zones etc. Mine didn’t even have a grab handle. You also stand a pretty good chance of being asphyixiated and by diesel fumes that belch from a large proportion of buses and truck. And if the pollution doesn’t get you and you can avoid a physical collision there is still a high risk of heart attack from the tactics of the drivers who seem to draw their inspiration from kamikaze pilots and Stirling Moss in about equal measure.

Watching TV
This cab driver liked to watch TV while driving

Another heart-in-mouth journey was across the city to the domestic airport. This time the trip was made in a conventional taxi and I thought this would be a normal, prosaic conveyance. But I was to have no such luck: no sooner did we set off than the driver started to fiddle with a dashboard-mounted screen that I had mistaken for a GPS navigation device. However as the driver started to fiddle with a collection of DVDs I realized what was happening. The screen was a LCD television and the driver intended to watch while weaving in and out of the Bangkok traffic. And that’s what happened. For the duration of the 15 mile journey we were treated to a slapstick Thai gameshow with an extremely raucous soundtrack exacerbated by the constant chattering of the taxi’s radio. Fortunately we got to the airport unscathed. The next time I attempt a similar journey I’m going to make sure I have Valium and Ibuprofen at hand.

P.S. Just to show I'm an incorrigible smarty pants here's a video clip of my Tuk Tuk ride; yes I've figured out how to do YouTube uploads so watch out...

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