Before moving to Thailand my survival instincts were dormant. I looked both ways before crossing the street, but that’s about it. I put a lot of trust on rules and laws to protect me. One thing I like about living in Thailand is that I feel as though my safety rests entirely on my own common sense.
When driving here, it’s not rare for a scooter to be driving on the wrong side of the road or for someone to run a stop light. And that doesn’t annoy me. I like it. Driving is now about being extra-aware of my surroundings.
When I’m in the water with jet skiers nearby, I get out. Many are tourists who have been drinking and are reckless jumping the waves. A month ago one tourist hit another tourist while trying to jump a wave.
When long tail boats and speedboats are nearby, I generally get out of the water for those too. Here, I place my safety in my own hands. And it’s not a nuisance, it feels good.
The thought “I’m sure we’re fine, they know what they’re doing” just doesn’t apply here. That’s mostly because of the tourists, although recreational tourism does seem to attract the wildest of the Thai people.
Most accidents you hear about are people making bad decisions. Most accidents in Phuket are near Patong and likely have to do with choices to drive drunk. Back home, people drive cars and driving drunk and hitting something doesn’t usually mean they die. Here in Thailand most people drive scooters. If you’re dumb enough to drive drunk, Darwinism is happy to take care of the rest.
Common Sense or Bust
Thai people may cut each other off but they drive slow, the person cut-off hits the breaks and it turns out okay. People occasionally drift in their lanes, or out of them, without looking but that’s just because, as my friends puts it:
“traffic flow here follows the rule that you are simply responsible for not hitting what’s in front of you”
I like that. I like a society built more around common sense and less around rules. With no safety bubble around you, I think the rule of Thailand is “Common sense or bust”.