Driver’s Ed, Thai-style


Lindsay here.
Whit and I had a wonderful day again in Chiang Mai. We opted to rent a scooter again for the day so we could visit a few far-fetched temples in the mountains and do some shopping around the city.
In case you didn’t know this, which I didn’t before I came, people in Thailand drive on the left side of the road, a fact that has made me somewhat reluctant to get behind the small wheels of our $5 a day scooter.
And we probably forgot to mention this while we were in Bangkok, but at first glance, drivers here are the worst in the world. I use to think drivers in Mexico and France were competing for first place. But when I was in Bangkok and we were barreling through traffic in our taxi while moped drivers squeezed between cars at red lights, I moved Bangkok drivers to the top of the list.
But then we got a scooter. And, as the Buddhists like to say, we were enlightened.
Whit has been the pro at it, weaving in and out of traffic like he’s been doing it all his life. And if you know Whit it all, you know this is not a learned practice. In America, as I’ve said before, he drives like an old man on his way to his own funeral.
But here, he’s a different man, helmet-laden with a heavy hand on the gas. And me? Well, I had my first lesson today. It was a bit shaky, and for some reason I had trouble making left-hand turns. But I’m learning. And laughing, a lot.

Sure, the traffic is chaos. But it’s organized. Let me explain. Say you’re coming to Thailand for vacation this year. Here would be my advice:
1. Forget everything you have EVER learned about driving. Just completely erase the chalkboard.
2. Always drive on the left. Pass on the right. And pass whenever you like. Another car in your way to pass? Pass anyway. The other cars will move out of your way. I promise.
3. Honk a lot. But don’t honk out of anger. These people are Buddhists and it is simply not in their nature to be angry. Road rage has no translation in Thai. Honk when you want to pass, or when you’re about to turn on a blind curve on a way-way road. Honk to say hello. Honk to say thank you. Or be like Whit and honk on accident when you’re trying to turn on the blinker. Just never honk in anger.
4. See traffic backed up ahead of you in two lanes? If you’re on a scooter, it’s your lucky day! Just make your way between the two lanes and move to the head of the line! A Get Out of Jail Card all yours.
5. Don’t care for staying between the lines of your lane? No worries, my friend. Lane lines are simply a suggestion. But remember to always move over for other people when they come over for a visit in your lane!
6. Tired of paying to park? Again, it’s your lucky day! No paid parking here. Park anywhere! On the street, on the sidewalk, wherever you please!
OK, enough education for one day. Whit’s waiting down on the scooter for me in his cute new capris (man-pris) that he swore he’d NEVER wear until he saw all the Asian and Euro bros wearing them and I convinced him that they really truly are cool. Travis McDowell, if you’re out there reading, this one’s for you.
We’re heading across town for some good Thai food. But it’s the journey to get us there that we always enjoy the most.

7 thoughts on “Driver’s Ed, Thai-style

  1. josh says:

    whit & lindsay, I love the blog! I am so excited for you both, you look amazing out there with your stylish helments and scooter. I did not think it was possible, but whit has got hotter, it must be the easter sun. take care, we miss you two.

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  2. deborah says:

    whit-Love your man-pris. I’ll make sure Bill and Michael get a pair too. Then all of the Nash men can wear them together. Oh, you can count Terry out! I don’t think that’s going to happen. It took over a year to get him to wear biking shorts!!Love your fashion statement!!!!

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