Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Rules

There are three rules for driving in Thailand that must not be broken:

1. Don't hit anybody (which includes anybody or anything that breathes).
2. Don't hit anything.
3. Don't get hit.

Obviously this holds true for any place where I'm driving but following those rules is more difficult here while sharing the frequently chaotic and crowded road with the multitude of motor bikes, buses, cars, pedestrians, trucks, food carts, bicycles and tuk-tuks (basically tricycles with lawnmower engines available for hire). And I'm happy to report that so far so good. I will work hard to keep it that way.

A few weeks ago I got my Thai driver's license. It was a relatively simple procedure thanks to the help I had from the people I work with who walked me through the entire process. It was made easier because I had my international driver's license which I had picked up at AAA in Chattanooga. The local DMV required a copy of the international license and their records now include the restriction/conditions page in German. English and German look about the same to the average Thai. An Australian colleague's Thai wife didn't speak to him for three days because he wouldn't (couldn't!) translate something written in Italian for her. English, Italian, they looked the same to her.

The international license in combination with my Tennessee one exempted me from taking a driving or written test. I had to pass a reaction a test (how fast can you move your foot from accelerator to brake when a light turns from green to red) and a depth perception test. I was in an out in less than 30 minutes. The prior day I had to go to a clinic where they took my blood pressure and listened to my heart and gave me a letter telling the DMV that I was healthy enough to drive.

I drive a company leased pewter colored new 2010 Toyota Camry, which is probably built right here in Thailand and, so far, has had no accelerator issues not induced by the driver. I haven't had any problems adjusting to driving on the right hand side of the road although it does require a paying a little more attention which is not a bad thing at all (refer to rules that must not be broken). Occasionally though I still find myself moving to enter the the left side of the car.

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