For someone who has spent the better part of his life in the left-hand seat of a car, hands firmly on the steering wheel in the United States, being in the left-hand seat with no steering wheel on the wrong side of the road is terrifying. I have been in Bangkok, Thailand, for a few days now and it is very hard getting past the ingrained habits of a lifetime of driving in the US.
I have been to more than a few countries where the car is on the left but Thailand is a revelation. Traffic to me is utter chaos. Cars drift from lane to lane, or straddle them as if the lines were mere suggestions or some sort of linear art on the pavement. Mix in the seemingly thousands of motorbikes that weave in and out of the traffic while at the same time feeling like everything is happening on the wrong side of the road and you can imagine my experience so far in Thailand.
Every moment it seems is an exercise in silent screams and my right foot trying to press on the imaginary brake that would normally be present on the left side of the car. Throw in seven-way intersections and streets that would pass for a narrow alleyway in Europe and the picture is complete.
I do have to say though; Honda, Kawasaki and Vespa have found the perfect market for scooters, mopeds and motorcycles. The 125cc to 250cc engine seems to be the sweet spot here in Thailand. I very rarely saw anything bigger than a 500cc motor.
Even with two, sometimes three and occasionally four people on one, these bikes must be geared very well for the region because they never seemed to have a problem accelerating away from a stop light or maneuvering between the cars.
Unfortunately, the sheer number of cars, trucks and bikes on the road has caused a severe smog problem here. Even on the sunniest days the sky has a light to medium tan that would otherwise be a beautiful blue in Bangkok. I did not see many Prius or other hybrid cars and certainly no Teslas.
Too bad. Thailand has an abundance of sunshine. Converting over to solar roofs and electric cars seems like it would be perfect here.
Well. Tomorrow is another day. We are heading back into downtown. I better make sure my insurance is paid up.