Typical of Asian cities, motorcycles are the family transport, delivery vehicles and the ideal commuter chariot. I am waiting for some enterprising motorcycle manufacturer to begin advertising their new 125 cc step-through as “The ideal motorcycle for a family of five”. Don’t laugh, five on a motorcycle is commonplace, in fact you can buy an extra little saddle seat which fits in front of the main seat and is used for small children (who hang onto the rear vision mirrors), or the family dog, which just takes its chances. Mind you, a large percentage of the family pooches travel in the wire basket carrier at the front, cleverly blocking the headlights at night.
No, motorcycles are everywhere, though mainly in the left hand lane, but at the intersections they weave their way through the cars in all lanes to end up as a raucous pack at the front. This massed Moto-GP takes off, not on the green, but at some time before the green, when the majority decide it is safe enough to go. Hence the motorcycles lying on their sides in the middle of the intersection, having collided with vehicles playing ‘last across’ from the other direction. Traffic lights in Thailand are only advisory, not compulsory!
Successful driving in Thailand does take a fair degree of observation skills, looking out for the dreaded two wheelers. Probably the same observation skills as used in the West to avoid speed cameras, red light cameras and plain clothes police cars. And other drivers with the raging red mist in their eyes.
I could go on for days about the motorcycles. There is a saying here which goes . You know you’ve been in Thailand too long when you look both ways before crossing a one-way street! Funny, but very true. Motorcycle riders will just happily ride against the flow of traffic and smile and bob their head (usually helmetless) to say “Thank you” as they thread their way through and across your bows. Motorcycles will also just poke their front wheels into an oncoming stream of cars until it is either stop and let them out (because there is always many more than just one of them), or run into them or into the oncoming traffic.
Personally I believe motorcycle riding just too dangerous and the scores of motorcycle riders being treated in our emergency room would bear witness to this.
However, if you must – then please wear a helmet and a full set of leathers makes very good sense.