Saturday, 14 February 2009

Trains, planes and automobiles

It's been a funny a week which has seen me add another two methods of transport to list which already includes tuk-tuk, bus, taxi, motorbike taxi and, of course, plane amongst others.

First off, I got behind the wheel of a car in Thailand for the first time when I borrowed FIL's pick-up to get to work and back for an interview.

Like the UK, Thailand drives on the left-side so there were no major issues of acclimbatising. That said there are a few major differences from the kind of driving I am used to:
  1. Thai's drive aggressively - no sign of caution as in the UK, here if they want to change lane, undertake or cut you up they'll just do it.
  2. Lots of motorcyclists - who drive as if they own the road, weaving in and out of traffic and dominating lanes. In the city centre they practically had their own lane, quite different to London.
  3. Honking - Thai's use the horn much more than in the UK. At home it is primarily to vent fury on other drivers whereas Thais are a little more constructive and also use it to alert fellow road-users, e.g. making the motorcyclist your are overtaking aware of you or approaching a blind-corner.
This way just a wee run-out for me as I I'm determined to get my Thai driving license in the near future (now that I have the required work-permit book).

In other transport-related news this week I caught the train today. What an interesting experience, particularly when compared to London.

The train was late, common for the UK, yet the tannoy announcement was not greeting with a chorus of cynical rants from the public. How refreshing for me, someone who admits he finds the reaction reaction of London's commuting public more irritating that the inconvenience of a late running service.

What about the cost then?

Well, no arms and legs were sacrificed for this journey, between the two of us a return trip was 18 baht (around the price of a small bottle of Coke). The missus got on free, like all Thais, and the alien, yours truly, paid 9 baht (circa 20p) per leg.


The train itself was not quite as comfortable as London trains or tubes and, true to the nature of Thailand, vendors walked up and down the train selling a range of food and drinks to the commuters. Unlike British trains the goods were without a hefty mark-up, although I would question the freshness of the cooked meat on offer...

I enjoyed the train and I will use it again in the future. The journey wasn't the most direct or speedy so I would recommend alternative options for travelling on a tight deadline.

I need to build on these by finally getting to grips with the motorcycle, so far I've preferred my bike (healthier and easier) but I definitely miss having my own form of transport out here.

I will post the photos I took once they are uploaded...

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