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CAR

Having a car is a symbol of wealth and success. In 1970, only 3 million cars were registered. But as wheels have become an ultimate status symbol and a basic need for many people, the number has increased to 21 million in year 1990. Most of the cars are Japanese and Korean cars. Foreign cars are very expensive. Only Mercedes cars had success before Asian crisis in 1997. Thailand was the 7th world wide Mercedes importer. Pickup cars are very popular as they allow to carry goods and many passengers.

Toyota Fortuner
Due to English influence, Thai people drive on the road left lane. Driving in Thailand can be a tough sport.
Toyota Fortuner

In Thailand, when a pedestrian crosses the road, driver won't slow down their speed but honk. Cars or motorcycles won't stop. The pedestrian has to run for his life. Crossing the road and force the way without taking care of the cars is useless in Thailand.

Thai U-turn are a perpetual cause of traffic jams and are dangerous. For cars on the left lane, there are no safe access roads to go on the right lane. They have to enter the right lane at a low speed and are confronted with cars coming at high speed. Now more modern one-way U-turns are built.
Toyota Tiger
Toyota Tiger

A convenient way to discover Thailand is to rent a car and to drive it. When renting a car, it is safer to check it before leaving the rental agency. When driving up-country and overtaking a motorcycle, it is safer to horn it. It is useful to warn the driver and allow enough space between the two vehicles. It frequently happens to see a motorcycle, tuk-tuk or even cars driving in the wrong way. In some highways, crossroads can be far from each-other, i.e several kilometers. Some drivers are lazy to drive far to reach the next crossroad and then go back in the other way to reach their destination. So they prefer to drive in the wrong way in order to reach the closest crossroad.

Buddhist amulets in cars
In many cars there are Buddhist amulets, King Rama 5 amulets or flowers garlands to bring luck. In crossroads where accidents happened, small spirit houses can be seen.
Buddhist amulets in cars

When renting a car with a driver, it is better to check the driver. Some of these guys are often tired, eat amphetamine pills, don't respect legal hours so could fall asleep while driving.

When a new car is bought, the owner invites a monk to bless it. The monk says blessings, throws holy water on the car and also draws some mysterious signs above the driver's seat.
Buddhist amulets in cars
Buddhist amulets in cars

Thai drivers are not always very careful. Sometimes two basics concepts of Thai society, i.e. "KRENG CHAI" (เกรงใจ) and "CHAI YEN" (ใจเย็น), are forgotten when driving a car. Intimidation is important when driving. Generally the driver who worries most about his car lets the other go before him. Beware many Thai people have no insurance with their car.

Toyota pickup car
Thai people love to have fun together or "SANUK" (สนุก). "SANUK" happens with several persons. So when Thai people are going out to have fun together, they use pickup cars in order to be as many as possible.
Full Toyota pickup car

Road security is a major issue in Thailand. In bus terminals there are advertisements focusing on clip belt, danger of drugs, amphetamines ("YA BA" - ยาบ้า or "YA MA" - ยาม้า), wear helmet, racing danger. Bloody pictures are shown such as people having accidents, people burnt. Children are taught to cross the roads only if there is a policeman, a traffic light or footbridge.

In december 1999 thirteen students from Si Sa Ket Technology school died after their pickup truck crashed into a rice truck. The pick-up truck was taking 16 students to a sports venue. In march 2000 in Chaiyaphum thirty-eight farm workers were killed and 12 seriously injured when a 10-wheel truck crashed into an electricity pole.
Pickup truck
Pickup truck

The bloodiest week-end happens every year during the Songkran period. These accidents show that the road security is still a major concern for Thai government.

Police checkpoint
Each end of the year Thai police is checking more throughly cars. Police is checking ID card, belt, alcohol level as during end of the year alcohol consumption is higher (สวัสดีปีใหม่).
Police checkpoint

In upcountry areas, buses drivers drive fast. They often overtake slow cars and motorcycles. It is common to see cars slowing down and going on the road back side. Here the bigger has the higher priority. Sometimes there are even races between public companies bus driver and private companies bus driver.

Thai drivers often beep the horn of a car when passing in front of a famous Buddhist temple in order to give respect to Buddha.
Colorful windscreen
Colorful windscreen
Gas station
Gas for cars is starting to get popular in Thailand as it is much cheaper than petrol. But only 70 to 80 kilometers can be done with a full tank. Most of the time Thai drivers do not stop the engine when filling petrol in order to keep the air conditioning on.
Gas station

Small jobs like filling petrol in car can still be found in Thai petrol stations. In many Western countries car drivers have to help themselves. But even in Thailand some small jobs start to disappear also. In department stores like Big C or Lotus, guardians when entering or exiting the supermarket are replaced by cameras.

Sometimes when a driver is overtaking a car, he horns the car coming in the oppositive direction. This latter has to slow down to avoid any accident. It is especially dangerous in case of buses. Overtaking in hillside roads, without seeing if a car is coming on the other way, is also common for Thai drivers.
Modern car
Modern car
Private Ambulance car
Bangkok traffic jams are world wide known. During Thai New year, a Thai proverb says ผีหลอก (ghosts frighten) as all Bangkok residents are suddently leaving the city.
Private Ambulance car

On Bangkok Express ways, the security lane is often ignored and is considered as an another lane.

Similar to private companies buses, Thai trucks are often very colorful thanks to some beautiful paintings.
Thai truck
Thai truck



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