Navigational Observations (Written April 10, 2014)

Bangkok Motorcycle 1

Navigating in a foreign city is fraught with challenges. What side of the road do you drive on? What side of the sidewalk do you walk on? Which way is north? Which way is north on the map? It is apparent that in Bangkok, you drive on the left. The sidewalk question is more ambiguous. After following a group of locals, I concluded I should probably walk on the left. Bangkok is, however a very international city. Everyone is here. Africans, Americans, Arabs, Europeans, Indians, Latinos and even some Asians. Thus, the sidewalks are effectively a free for all. Stop, go, Stop, Go, dodge right, dodge left, brace for impact, dodge somewhere, and ouch I didn’t see that one coming! Walking is frantic. This is especially true in crowded areas, which is to say everywhere. It has given me the chance to answer a question I have held since living in Australia (and I mean this in the most culturally sensitive non-racist way): Do Asians get in each other’s way? My conclusion: Yes, undoubtedly they do. They are either just more tolerant, more oblivious, more willing to barge past, or more some combination of these traits than I am.

Bangkok Street 2

Second observation: Cars have the right of way. Period. And crosswalk infrastructure is minimal. That said, above the street and in the canals, Bangkok has some of the best public transit infrastructure I have seen anywhere. It certainly puts anything in the USA to shame! Finally, look out! Apparently motorcycles are equally at home on the road and on the sidewalk…

Bankok Street 1

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