Gaining Perspective from Bangkok Traffic

Bangkok Traffic
Originally uploaded by Life in Nanning.

Let me tell you a little bit about transportation and traffic in Bangkok. We took many modes of transportation in this bustling city.
  • On Foot - Lots of people, lots of places, lots of walking. Thai foot massage places and shoe repair vendors are everywhere.
  • Private Car - Thais prefer to back into car park spaces, I'm not sure why.
  • Taxi - make sure you tell the driver to start the meter.
  • Skytrain (BTS) - Very easy to use, clean and air conditioned!
  • Subway (MRT) - Much like any modern subway.
  • Songthaew - literally two rows in the back of a covered pick-up truck. 6 Baht anywhere in the circuit. Fun to ride on the very back.
  • Chao Phraya Express Boat (River Taxi) - Step quickly and carefully on these boats, they don't hang around the dock for very long and the boat and dock are usually moving.
  • Tuk-Tuk - Noisy and fun, but the heat and fumes in a traffic jam can give you a headache very quickly.
  • Motorcycle Taxi - not for the fain of heart, but these guys will get you through any jam effectively if not safely.
  • Klong Taxi - Only one we didn't do. The klongs (canals) are very stinky.
Moving through Bangkok traffic was one of the primary methods by which I gained perspective into the Thai way of thought (and by comparison my own western way of thinking).
  • There are constantly traffic jams, however no one honks their horn in anger or frustration. A short horn is used to signal intention to cut in or permission to cut into traffic.
  • The motorcycles stream between the buses, cars and tuk-tuks like sand through rocks in a riverbed. Few people wear helmets. A family of 4 or 5 can fit on a small motorcycle.
  • Traffic signals are frequently ignored. One stream of traffic edges slowly into another and gradually cuts it off to flow for a while itself then visa versa.
  • I learned not to look out the front of the vehicle I was traveling in, but rather off to the side. My life was well and truly in the hands of others and I just needed to let go and live it. Thais are not paralyzed by safety issues. They seem to recognize that life is short.
  • I saw evidence of only one serious accident on the highway on my way to the airport at 3:30 am.