Most Dangerous Drivers in Pattaya

Iíve been traveling in Asia over 16 years and have survived a head-on motorcycle crash along the Burma border, a mudslide in Sulawesi, and the chaos of Bangkok traffic.

My scariest drive in Thailand was during a blinding rainstorm through the Khao Yai Mountains. Insects smashed into the windscreen and the wipers smeared their bodies into an opaque gell. At every curve heavily-laden trucks jockeyed for a passing lane. My sweating hands juked the steering wheel to avoid elephantine potholes, while my girlfriend and her family slept like the dead.

When we arrived in Pattaya, the family decamped from the bug-covered car to resume their slumber en masse within my townhouse. I drank three beers to still my tremors from this life-threatening drive. Four would have been better to relieve my fears.

Thailand has honed my reflexive skills for wandering elephants and errant cows. A sudden shift of the wheel or a stomp on the brakes usually avoids a potentially expensive collision with a large mammal, but if you do have to hit a cow, go for the back legs, since the impact will spin the body away from the car rather than come through the window if you hit the beast full on.

Not that Iím a terrible or ruthless driver, just I know what you can get away with as long as no one is looking.

Clucking one-eyed chickens and hairless pi-dogs are fair game on the motorways. Iíll send them into their next reincarnation rather than swerve into oncoming traffic, although some people are much more finicky about their karma, so you have to get ready to evade those worshippers of all forms of life as well as police seeking contributions to the local tea fund.

That is not to say Iím the best of drivers, but Iím certainly not the worst driver. That dubious honor is reserved for the following categories.

Most people would nominate bike drivers as number 1, but Fenway’s mom and I agree that no one drives more recklessly than the pizza delivery guys. Their mission is to deliver the pizza within a set period of time for fat farangs to stuff their faces with mediocre pizza while watching a bootleg BATMAN DVD. These murderous maniacs never beep their horns and prefer to scare the bejesus out of pedestrians by near-misses. Thankfully flags attached to the bikes flutter out a warning and they wear easily recognizable uniforms. Surprisingly Iíve never seen one in an accident.

Second on the list are Chinese bus tour drivers.

These juggernauts barrel down Pattaya thoroughfares like they were on a divine mission to run over anyone in their path. Their passengers are on Chairman Mao schedules.

15 minutes for a transvestite show. A half-hour slurping shark-fin soup. Massage one hour.

To meet this pace the drivers have no intention on stopping and you cannot win game of Ďchickení with these crazed tour operators. Also beware of the elephant trunk-like mirrors in the front. They are a lot lower than they look.

A friend of mine standing on a curb got clipped by one and he said that the impact was like taking a sucker punch from King Kong. The driver never stopped to say he was sorry, since his schedule didnít allow time for an apology.

Winning the bronze are motorsai taxi drivers. These vested drivers are wizards on the roadways, knowing three speeds; fast, faster, and fastest. They zigzag through traffic without any concern for your knees; driving down sidewalks, running red lights, and basically amassing up about 20,000 baht of traffic violations in a day. Over-loading is never a problem, for there is always room for one more, although the most Iíve spotted on any bike has been five.

Never argue with a motorsai taxi driver because they stick together like a phalanx of bad vibes and youíll find a little traffic altercation can suddenly resemble a remake of Custerís last stand.

ďWhere all these Thai guys come from and why are they carrying pieces of lumber?Ē

Fourth come the baht buses, since they will pull over anytime they see a farang. This maneuver usually earns them a middle finger salute in passing.

Fifth come fat farangs on CBR motorbikes. These guys rent a hot motorcycle, put a tiny girl on back, and test the gears on any straightway without realizing that dogs, elephants, baht buses, and pizza guys might get in their way. These death wish Mad Max extras can be recognized by road burns and broken limbs, if they were lucky enough to have survived their collision with slower moving vehicle.

One French speedster tail-ended a baht bus. The bike blew up. He caught on fire and was unconscious for a week. When he emerged from his coma he was presented with a bill for the totaled bike and damaged baht bus. No way the doctors were letting him die before he paid those bills.

My personal fear of death is crashing into sidecar motorcycles; either carrying empty beer bottles or fuming with BBQ pork. The former drive like GP Moto racers and the latter like their bike had flat tires. My greatest fear in Pattaya is that I crash into a food cart and get burned by the charcoal.

Of course I am the best driver in the world. And I never do anything wrong.

RULES OF THE ROAD

1.) Wear a helmet on a bike. Brain buckets can save your life so splurge more than 99 baht.

2.) Slow down. You donít really have to be anywhere on time, do you?

3.) Give larger vehicles the right of way.

4.) Pay attention to traffic laws. Taking a wrong turn off a one-way street can be a game-ender.

5.) Drive drunk slow.

Otherwise have a good time.

Vroom Vroom.

ps photo is of the famed man with the gold cape

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