The Move and Driving in Thailand

Urban traffic, Thailand by Roger Lemoyne

The move to Thailand was traumatic for me. I’m the kind of person who really doesn’t like change in my life. But here I was moving away from family and friends to place I held in my daydreams. I tried to tell myself that I was doing it for my wife. I wanted her to have a chance to go back ‘home’. The truth is: she was only interested in my health and happiness and she loved it in the States. Leaving our kids- who were grown and not living close to us at the time- was hard on her. Leaving all the things we had accumulated over the years was almost as difficult.

We sold, gave away and donated piles of things and in the end it really was good to get rid of them—At least for me. I was having panic attacks and thought the end was near. It wasn’t living in Thailand that worried me it was the getting there. Through it all my wife took charge and made things happen.

We had a small townhouse on the outskirts of Bangkok that Julee had built years before. We used it when we visited Thailand. I had sent boxes of things and a lot of books ahead and they were waiting on us when we arrived for our new life.

After we arrived we bought a pickup truck- I love pickups- and a motorcycle for me. We settled in and began our tour of Thailand for the first few months.

I had to learn how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and only made a few hundred mistakes. Luckily Thai driving habit are pretty much anything goes—so I fit right in. I found the main rule in driving is: the biggest vehicle wins! I took to the aggressive style of driving like a NASCAR rooky. If you don’t get in there and push you’ll find yourself on the side of the road crying and wondering how people could be so… mean.

There is a driving etiquette in Thailand and it is aggressive. Road rage is something you just don’t see. You cut someone off or you are cutoff and you just forget about it and move on to the next battle of wits and machine. You also don’t see many wrecks—which totally surprised me at first. I’ll do a separate post about the police of Thailand.

One thing you have to keep in mind while driving in Thailand is if you- the foreigner- are involved in an accident, guess whose fault it is? No matter what, in most cases, you’re the one who pays.

We went to some of the beautiful places and we had a blast. Thailand has islands, resorts, waterfalls, mountains and friendly people all over the country. Some of the most beautiful women in the world glide along and I must admit I do enjoy looking. Not with lust—really—but with admiration.

In my straight-line, male thinking I have discovered why they glide. It’s the flip-flops- sliders- they wear. Now how smart am I! I’m full of wisdom, as you will find out if you follow.

We did the tour for several months but we were in Thailand to live, not be tourist. We returned to our little place with rice fields and heat all around and started settling in. I enrolled in a Thai language school in downtown Bangkok. Three days a week I made the one and half hours trip into the maze of the giant city. I loved walking the streets and trying out my Thai with just about anyone I met. I’m from the south and saying hello is ingrained into me. The Thai’s don’t do that, but being a dumb foreigner, they would smile at me and return the greeting. I had a routine I worked out so that I would ask a question—I knew the answer to—and I could respond to the answer they gave me. Some days I felt like I was on top of the world, but most I wondered if I would ever be able to speak to anyone and understand them.

Going to school I had to park in a large lot and take Sky-Train to the city center. Parking and driving in that lot added years of experience to my Thai driving skills. You have to retract your outside mirrors to avoid hitting other cars. Parking slots are always filled so you park in front of the properly parked cars, leave your car in neutral with the front wheels straight, and then lock your car. When you get back to your car after your business is completed you get to move 10 or so cars just enough to allow your car to get out of where you parked. It’s not as bad as it sounds and when it’s a new experience it’s kind of fun. No anger– just patience.

 I hope you enjoy my post. I promise they’ll get better as I go. Let me know what you think and introduce yourself. I want to get to know you too!

12 responses to “The Move and Driving in Thailand

  1. Love this Dannie, great post and brings back some wonderful memories of when I was in Bangkok so long ago. You are a brave man to up and move like you did. I’m sure your life has settled now, but it must have been harrowing to adjust to culture shock even though you were married to a Thai woman.

    Just one comment about the driving – I have only found in North America that drivers take it personally when cut off, to the point where there has been gunfire. In other countries, there’s a lot of honking, and what may appear like aggressive driving, but it’s really just each driver trying to get further along. No one takes it as a personal affront if someone pulls in front of them. I learned a lot while driving in Bangkok (I was on a scooter), but it was a great time, and I am so happy to live vicariously through your stories about it.


    • You are a brave woman, Eden. I try to avoid Bangkok as far a driving. I will do a post on the Bangkok Grand prix– When all the motorbikes que up to the front waiting on a green light and then there off! I’ve done it with my big bike a few times and it’s great fun.

      Thank you for commenting– it means a lot to me!

      Now to be honest I’m more Thai than my wife– don’t tell her. I can deal with things in a Thai laid-back way while my Americanised beauty wants it now!

  2. Great post, Dannie. I look forward to reading more about your adventures in Thailand. When I get cut off in traffic, I always try to keep my cool and not take it personal. In Thailand, do you see people texting while driving like you see all to often here in the States? That’s one of my biggest peeves. I’ve almost been hit a few times this year by idiots texting while driving… but I just honked to let them know that I was there. I refrained from gesturing to them that they were “number one” because you never know who’s going to go all “Grand Theft Auto video game” on you. 🙂

    Cheers from Texas,


    • Hi Rob and thanks for the comment. Nowdays I do hear of relailiation but it’s rare. I use my horn like everyone else but the hand jestures aren’t a good idea here either. As far as texting. The older people don’t do it, but the young people are as crazy as Americans. They even text while driving motorcycles. And they crash a lot. There are laws against it here but no one pays attention. I try not to drive in the big cities too much but out in the country its not hard at all. They’ve even started using those damn cameras in a few place. The good news is the fine for speeding is arount $12 dollars US.

  3. Man, reading your blog is so great for me. So many similarities, yet distinct differences as well. I never drove in Africa or China, for example, so it’s interesting to see your insights on that.

    And I may have to visit Thailand at some point to see the gliding women – for purely aesthetic reasons of course.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Andy! I didn’t have a lot of choice about the driving thing. I ride a motorcycle but my wife refuses to get on one– so the pickup was a must. It’s still an adventure but now I scare friends who come over for a visit. I’ve been called ‘Rocketman’ LOL. But I don’t drive that fast– just keep up with everyone else. I still ride my bikes but I have to remind myself each time I get on one that motorcycles are the bottom of the food chain.

      The gliding ladies are a sight to behold. I’ve come up with many ‘wise’ sayings- LOL- to explain why things are different over here. I’ll be sharing more as I go along. They are worth the trip, aesthetically speaking.

  4. Your tidings from Thailand are always nice to read. Please keep them coming! I enjoy learning about other cultures, and being able to experience them if only via cyber travel, and posts like yours. I like the fact that you make me “feel” like I am there.
    Glad to see you are blogging. My little blog is still rolling along. I actually have 3 whole followers now. LOL! Come back over and visit my little nook when you get a chance. Hope all is well with you. Miss talking with you.

    • Thank you for commenting, Robin. It”s great to hear you’re blogging again. I will certainly visit and follow. My blogging is still a work in progress, but I do enjoy hearing from people around the world. I’m in my final edit of my next book before I send it to my editor. Exciting times for me. I’ll make a post a week and might even throw in a few poems. I have much to learn and I know I can depend on your help.

  5. I enjoy all of yours stories, but especially this one because in China it is the same! You really have to hit your horn and squeeze your way through. Still I’m so happy for you – taking the step to move to Thailand has done you good! I can tell from all these wonderful writing of yours!

    • Thank you, Zee. You are one who has supported me and given me a better outlook on life! I truly couldn’t do this without friends! Driving in Thailand make one concentrate and give up worries in hopes that you will arrive alive, LOL.

  6. Dannie, thanks for the FB add so I get to read your wonderful story about moving to Thailand. What a brave move and I certainly applaud you for uprooting yourself and for making efforts in a new culture, and learning Thai! Best of luck with that!

    I’ve never been to Thailand but my husband have and he’ll surely agree with you on two things: the traffic jam there is the WORST in the whole world, and the women are the MOST Beautiful in the whole wide world too 🙂 – well, I guess it says that you can’t have everything so life is fair after all :)!

    Keep the blog posts coming and thanks for sharing. I’d love to come with you in the virtual tour of Thailand – it is on my To Visit list :).

    Til next time, TTFN.


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