Saturday, November 25, 2017

There is No Honking Here.

Traffic in Thailand is...amazing.  Or incredible.  One of my friends says it resembles a car race with hundreds of participants. But there is a politeness about it that defies description.

The concept of lanes is rather fluid; sometimes a two lane road can become a three lane road.  And if you need to stop to let people off, just do it.  Everyone will stop for you.  Or, more likely, create a new lane and go around.  When you have to merge, the lane markings are mere decoration; more than once I was looking at a complete jumble of cars that somehow sorted itself out.  However, if you continue to let people in front of you, you will come to a complete stop.  There is a certain polite aggressiveness that marks drivers.  There is also no honking.  I don't believe I saw Natcha or Bank (love some of these nicknames) ever get upset at being cutoff; they just went with the flow and proceeded to be a little more aggressive and got ahead of the next guy.

What we call "cutting people off" is a normal lane change to them.  (The skill of these drivers...) 

Then there are the motorcycles.  Hundreds of them. Here in the good old U.S. of A., they are treated as cars and have to pass properly (not cutting people off!) and stay in the lane, etc.  In Thailand, they can travel between cars (I saw it on the freeway once!), they travel in made up lanes, they travel on the sidewalk...I saw them travel in the wrong direction on a highway.  and not once did Natcha or Bank ever startle (like I did).

It has been said, that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots.  Here in Thailand, there are no old motorcyclists.  Just saying.  I did see the results of one accident; everything had been cleaned up but a pair of sandals in the road.

U-turns are ubiquitous.  These people, because there are no turns to cross traffic, will travel several blocks until there is a U-turn.  This consists of a gap in the cement curbing, and people waiting to turn around.  And people will stop and let them do this -- in the case of our tour bus, that meant several (if not all) lanes were blocked while we accomplished this; once or twice we had to back up and completely block traffic going BOTH ways.   And cloverleafs for freeway exits?  They don't exist.  If you want to exit across the freeway, you exit to a lane that goes up and over the freeway, turns around, then you join the freeway again going the other direction and exit the freeway again going the direction you originally wanted.  It takes less space.

And did I mention that they are driving on the wrong side of the street?  All my instincts, I've discovered, are for driving on the right!  More than once, Natcha would signal to turn left and then go in spite of what I saw was oncoming traffic!  But it wasn't.  And I hope I didn't startle her.

It is possible to walk across the street in the city.  You negotiate with the car in the first lane, and they may or may not stop for you.  If they do, go ahead and cross.  That lane only.  The next lane is more likely to stop, but not always.  Twice I did it with experienced street-crossers.  Once by myself.  I stood in the middle of a 4 lane street (which is not as wide as our 4 lane streets!) in Chiang Mai waiting for a car -- any car -- to let me go.  (Later I found a coffee shop on the same block as the hotel.)

Anyway, here is a toll road that they are waiting for money to complete.  MOST of it is usable.

I think this bus had about 30 people on it.

Taking the train is faster.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Toilets in Thailand

The one thing you should be ware of when traveling in Asia is the toilets.  It is not that they are dangerous, per se, but that many of them are holes in the floor, for which you must squat.  I used this kind of toilet in Taiwan 10 years ago, just to say I did.  I do NOT need to repeat this.

At least in Thailand, you can find signs that tell you this is an old lady bathroom:  you can sit.

Of course, this also means that Some People may not quite understand that you do not stand on a sit down toilet to squat...

And this is a "bring your own toilet paper" kind of country.  But they do have little hoses to wash you off.  Which, I would like to point out, is better than a bidet, because you squat for a bidet.  well, hover, but at my age that is the same as a squat.

And, on the lighter side, here are some cute bathroom signs