The World Comes to Thailand—Unfortunately

| July 7, 2010 | 10 Comments | 10,783 views

Motorcycles are the only practical way to move quickly and easily around downtown Bangkok during business hours. For less than $2000 USD you can purchase a brand new Japanese bike and have the freedom and convenience of having your own wheels. Owning a motorcycle is a quantum leap in personal mobility, freedom, and streamlines everyday life.

An automobile, even with a driver, is no substitute.

An automobile, even with a driver, means hours spent sitting in heavy traffic not getting where you want to go.

Some Expats will claim that combining buses, the subway, and motorcycle taxis is a practical solution but having lived with and without a personal bike, I beg to differ.

Unlike most major urban areas in the U.S., you can park your motorcycle anywhere and ignore most traffic rules with impunity. There are a few gotchas and sometimes you get caught in a police roadblock and have to fork over 400 THB whether you’ve done anything wrong or not, but on a motorcycle you can make illegal U-turns, drive the wrong way down one way streets, ride on the sidewalk, and, usually, park on the sidewalk or on the curb with impunity.

Bangkok motorcycling is a heady mind expanding experience for those used to the heavily regulated and large fines in the US world of traffic cops, radar guns, red light cameras, parking police, and expensive mandatory insurance.

Until now.

Recently no motorcycle parking signs have appeared in certain areas of Bangkok and now the police are starting to ticket.

When a policeman sees a bike parked on the sidewalk, he puts a lock on the front disk and leaves a citation.

You have to go to the local police station and pay a fine.

After the fine is paid, the station calls the nearest police box and a policeman comes by and unlocks the bike.

The fine in Silom is 200 THB (about $6 USD). When a farang shows up to pay his fine, the Silom station tries to charge the farang 400 THB. If you tell them, in badly pronounced Thai, that you know the fine is 200 THB, they accept the 200 THB even from farang.

The special price for foreigner’s is part of Abashits campaign to revive the tourist industry.

Its a bit of a downer to think that the wild west anything goes world of motoring is slowly being transformed into the no fun driving environment in the USA.


Comments (10)

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  1. John Brown says:

    Pick up sticks and move to Cambodia if you’re trying to avoid the World.  In 20 years, shove along to Sri Lanka.  One day we might find you blogging in Chad ??

  2. BBK says:

    John Brown,

    Although, you are being sarcastic, there are guys who have done exactly what you are saying and based on your previous comments you seem like the “get away from it all” kind of guy.

    Personally, I am not in the group whose goal is to escape from civilization. Becoming a hermit holds no attraction for me. I enjoy people too much.

    And it is not just people but the large concentrations of population and money combined with a different religion, culture, politics, levels of educations, and environment that creates the milleau that I enjoy.

    In Thailand, I like Bangkok way better than Phuket or Pattaya and although the outlying Issan cities are tons of fun, spending an extended sojourn there would be kind of boring.

    Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc. are more my cup of tea and if I live long enough and get around to it, I bet there is a lot fun to be had in India too.


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  4. Robert says:

    The parking enforcement might be a good thing,  Thais do not seem to be able to anticipate the consequences of their actions.  They park in front of driveways, block other cars in or park their motorcycles behind your then lock the fooking steering so you have to drag it out of the way.  
    Even in the airport parking lot, they will park in front of other cars blocking them in when there are dozens of open available legitimate spaces.  

  5. Robert says:

    Pattaya is useless, there is no good food, the beach is polluted and the whole town reeks of corruption and sleazyness.  I much prefer Bangkok where you can get a 4 or 5 star hotel room for about 1/4 what you would pay in any US city and with better service.  Some of the hotel buffets that cater to the wealthy Thais as regular customers are excellent whereas the restaurants in Pattaya cater to tourists they never expect to see again.  
    For bar action, the best place is Ban Change, in Rayong Province about 45 kilometers down Sukhumvit from Pattaya.  (there is a much shorter way to get there).  Once again, most of the farang there are expats who live locally and work in Maptaphut, and since they expect to see you again as a regular customer, the treatment you get is far superior to Pattaya.

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