Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Did The Tourist Cross The Road?

Q: Why did the tourist cross the road?
A: Maybe he was tired of living and decided to chance it!

It's an indisputable fact that any time you step off the curb and into the anything-goes world of Thailand city traffic you're taking your life into your own hands. Any time pedestrians share space with machines it's wise to remember that the machines usually win.

Not only do pedestrians not have the right of way, they're expected to be nimble enough to weave their way between tuk-tuks, taxis, automobiles, trucks, buses and folks piled aboard all sorts of two-wheeled rides as they attempt to reach the other side of the street. I personally have almost wet myself at least twice while avoiding Death looming toward me.

Traffic signals give you the glimmer of a fighting chance, but they're small comfort. Age slows us all down, and alcohol in the system doesn't help matters at all so in the tourist areas such as Pattaya the newspapers have a full clipping file of items about folks not quite nimble or observant enough to avoid taking a hard bounce or three.

The saturation of portable music devices and cell phones further increase the risks, as distractions certainly increase your powers of observation, and not being able to hear motorcycles and bicycles hustling through sidewalk traffic can be another nightmare altogether.

In the past I've tended to try to gauge what vehicles coming at me are going to do, but learned that's a little like predicting the weather a month out, too. Naturally, you have to use some caution but I've heard the most reliable way to cross is just to look for a slower pocket of traffic and keep moving, not trying to stop/start/stop your way across the road, allowing the drivers to gauge how to avoid me... figuring that they don't want to damage their vehicle by slamming into some Big Pink Guy. If this blog suddenly ends with no farewell, though, it may be that the theory didn't work for me, but for now it's what I'm working with.

I don't post this today to discourage anyone from leaving their rooms and venturing out into the "real world" of Thai cities, but as a reminder than when you're putting things into your pockets or purse as you prepare to go out, take your common sense, and - as is always a good idea - your powers of observation along with you.

Be aware, and stay safe!


Was Once said...

I watched a young family negotiating Bangkok with a Iphone GPS, hardly looking at anything besides it missing all what they came for....Perhaps the next victim!

khunbaobao said...

Scary, wasn't it? Perhaps their first trip and they were afraid of getting lost.

Many tourists seem to bring their "VIP" mentality along with them, but I've noticed they fly through the air just as well as the rest of us - if they don't pay attention. ;-)