Monday, 7 June 2010

Bikes in Thailand (ราชอาณาจักรไทย)

Mrs F and I have been in Thailand for a few days now and I took the chance today to take a few photos of the thousands of bikes that are here. Most are small scooter type bikes although there are the occasional bigger machines around. Safety is a huge cause for concern in Thailand and looking at these photos it is easy to see why. The number of bikes is staggering and as a guess I would say that bikes are close to out-numbering cars.

Here are a few photos....

I liked the shape of the fronts of these bikes....



















There are quite a few people that carry their children on bikes....



















Riding side-saddle is quite common by girls wearing skirts....



















The rider wants to protect himself, but it is a different story for his passengers....



















Two kids on one bike....



















Four schoolgirls on one bike....



















Not a good quality photo, but three-up is not uncommon....



















Cool looking skoot....



















If you look carefully, you will see the bottles of petrol being sold at the side of the road. This is a refilling point for bikes set up by somebody to make a little money and there are many of them....



















Parking is not a problem for bikes in Thailand....



















A few side-car photos....



















Home-made outfits to carry goods around in are very common. Here I am on one such bike....



















Some sidecars even come with roofs....



















A fruit seller on her bike with sidecar. Many traders move from place to place selling their wares like this....



















It may have started out life as a Kawasaki....



















I just had to take a photo of this....



















A few Harleys parked in a side alley....



















One of the streets in Patong (หาดป่าตอง) ....



















It is rainy season here and this was just after one of the many downpours....



























The rain is so warm, only a few riders stop for the rain....



















Finally, here is a family on their bike / sidecar outfit....



















As you can tell, bike riding is Thailand is very common, but the safety of the riders is a big problem. Traffic accidents are the second highest cause of death amongst Thai males. It is easy to see why.

14 comments:

biker baby said...

My grandkids want to ride with us all the time, we only take them a short distance on slow rides, with a helmet, long pants, jacket and sturdy shoes. I am old enough to make those choices and understand the consequences, they are not.

Geoff James said...

Great photos Gary!

Funnily enough, I have a side-saddle photo that I took in Bali which I was going to post at some stage. Terrifying to watch, isn't it! Did you see any big bikes there? I know of at least one Blackbird although they tend to be owned by expats.

Canajun said...

Great photos Gary. I must say I'm conflicted by this. On the one hand it's nice not to see the heavy hand of the nanny state regulating every day activities like they do in the west, but still, seeing an infant with no protection on a motorcycle makes me shudder.

Rob said...

Wow, I love to see motorcycles as functional tools as well as toys. Great stuff!

SonjaM said...

Good captures! Somewhat scary though...

motoroz said...

Very interesting. It is neat to see so many bikes, but not thrilled to see small kids with no helmets.
Thanks.

Mike said...

Is it the price of gas/petrol that causes all the motorcycles and scooters? I've seen videos of this in Vietnam too. It's very interesting to see. Thank you!

Gary France said...

BB – Starting them young and safe – the best way. When my children were young and I took them in the car, I wouldn’t start the engine until they all had their seat belts on. This has stuck with them right until now and they still put them on as soon as they get in the car.

Geoff – Thanks. Side-saddle looks very scary to me. I would never try it! I saw a few big bikes, but not many.

Canajun – Thanks. I agree with you. Freedom is a great thing, but perhaps it is too free here. In a crash, the infants would stand a chance. I took a close look at some of the crash helmets and most of these are made of thin plastic – useless in a crash.

Rob – selling things from the bikes is really cool and cheap for the vendor.

Sonja – scary, yes!

Oz – I totally agree.

Mike – I am not sure why there are so many bikes. I will try to find out and post another comment with what I discover.

Willy D said...

Though it may be somewhat dangerous, most of the faces look happy. I guess that counts for something.

Gary France said...

Willy - nearly everybody in Thailand looks happy - it is part of the culture that people smile at you. It makes a refreshing change from the west when nearly everyone looks unhappy!

Tim France said...

@Mike...

I think the high number of bikes is more to do with the price of the vehicles and not the petrol. The cost of a new scooter is about 40,000 Baht (around 1000 US$) but cars are much more expensive, and out of range for many people. You can pick up second-hand bikes for next-to-nothing, and there are repair shops everywhere and that keeps maintenance costs low too. I live in Chiang Mai (city in northern Thailand) and getting around town is so easy that a bike is really all you need. Downside is riding a bike in the monsoon season (ie, now), which lasts about 3 months - you really can get soaked to the skin in an instant, but then again the rain is about the same temperature as a bathroom shower in the UK :-) People talk to one another on bikes too (at traffic lights etc) - it's great fun!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

one day I hope to be able to see this with my own eyes. In the meantime I will be content to see through your camera. A scooter is just a tool to get around.

I'm not sure, as a foreigner whether you would be able to rent a scooter or not. It would take a while to get used to the traffic flows

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Gary France said...

Tim - Thanks, your explanation is much better than anything I would have written. In case anyone was wondering, Tim is my brother and is fluent in Thai. That is how he can chat to people at traffic lights!

Bob - If you get the chance, you should visit Thailand. You would love it. Did you mean renting a scooter in Thailand? I have seen quite a few westerners riding scooters, especially in the tourist areas, so I am sure I could rent one here. You are correct about the traffic flows though, but at least they do drive on the right side of the road, which is the left!

Chris Luhman said...

Great photos Gary!