Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Downtown Thai Roads

Thai roads are a nightmare for foreigners. It is very common for us to be driving in the wrong direction. Road direction changes according to time of day, bus lanes are opened to traffic from X to Y time, some lanes changes direction during period X, can’t turn left or right into soi from X to Y time, traffic to turn right at cross junction blocked, U-turn blocked, lane blocked, road blocked and Z marks the spot where you hand a fine to the police. There are many makeshift signs put up along the roads, especially in downtown areas. I was on the left most lane one morning behind a bus when I saw a wooden sign with scribbling at the lane’s edge in middle of road. Traffic was a standstill and there came the brown police, always in his fake Ray Ban shades. He looked at me and pointed across the sign. About 15 seconds passed without any brain activity within my skull. Then he showed his big eyeballs and pointed across the sign from left to right at almost 10 swipes per second with his index finger. His eyes grew very very big when I realized I must be doing something wrong and therefore decided to edge out onto the next lane. It is assumed by all traffic authorities, that all foreigners can read Thai.

Bus lane… one other day, again these signs are in Thai writings. So the police stopped me at the junction and the first thing I did was put my hands together and said in as lousy a Thai as I could “sarrrr wat deee cup”. He looked through my documents and then started shooting away that I can speak Thai because I have a Thai license. I tried as best I could not to break character and smile at him holding my “I England Only” stand. For your info… the Thai driving test can be conducted in English as an option for foreigners. Unlike Singapore’s Traffic Police Force which lives by the rules of “Ignorance is not an Excuse” or “I didn’t get laid yesterday nite and so I will take it out on you” plus “I got a big butt plug forcefully shoved up my arse now so don’t mess with me” or “ants are chewing my testis so don’t fu*k with me”, he was a kind policeman and smiling as he explained to me as best as he could about bus lanes rules. Coz… I had to pay for the lesson… but I paid the fine happily and he even gave me proper directions to my destination Hotel.

I now learned that certain bus lanes downtown can be used by cars only during 6pm to 6am. I have however, still not learned how to identify these bus lanes.

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