Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thailand's Roads: A Veritable Melting Pot!

One of my favorite things about Thailand is the cornucopia motor vehicles that rumble along on their roads.

Variety in the US is basically limited to Truck, SUV, and sedan. The range of colors for our automobiles is similarly uninspiring; shades of black, white, grey, and tame reds, greens, and blues dominate the road.

Here in Thailand, that is simply not the case. The street is a colorful parade where vehicles of all shapes and sizes can be found. Bakgkok’s taxi’s, for example, brighten up the streets with neon pinks, oranges, greens, and blues.

a rainbow of taxis!

One of the most famous rides in Thailand is the Tuk-Tuk, a three-wheeled taxi that is typically used to cart tourists around at an inflated price. The iconic Tuk-Tuk looks like this:

But, there are two exciting variations of the traditional Tuk-Tuk which I had never seen before. They are basically motor-bikes with carriages attached; one where the driver is behind the carriage (giving the customer a frightening view of traffic!)

And one where the driver and his motorbike are situated behind the carriage:

They’ve even got scooters with side-cars toting people around the cities

But the three-wheeled vehicles don’t end at the traditional Tuk-Tuk. There are three-wheeled trucks as well, some outfitted with benches in the back and used as high-occupancy taxis, but others are used as all-purpose pick-up trucks.

The last three-wheeled optoin is called a samlor, which is basically a bicycle-powered carriage – great for a relaxing ride along Chiang Mai’s moat!

Another option for the budget-minded traveler is the sawngthaew (meaning “two benches”)

Cheaper than a tuk-tuk, these guys are basiclly pick-up trucks with two benches inside. They’re comfortable, convenient, and cheap! Most of the time, Nick and I chartered one for ourselves, but on our last ride through Thailand, we got in one with 12 people packed inside – snug as a bug in a rug!

The most delicious addition to Thailand’s roads, are the mobil food stalls. Some powered by foot, others powered by scooter – these versitile food stands will make deliveries, roam the streets, ringing a bell to drum up business, or just park themselves on the side of the road and set up shop.

If variety is the spice of life, Thailand has got to have the spiciest roads in the world!

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