Fast and Furious in Bangkok: Learning to Drive in a Cloud of Complexity

7-bangkok-traffic by  Davy-040

I’ve been told I’d be crazy to drive in Bangkok. Then, when people realise I’ve never even had a driver’s license, they think I’ve totally lost my mind. I’d like to propose that my lack of license or previous driving experience makes me a lot more like the local Thais already on the road, but we will get back to that.

There is such a long story as to why I don’t drive, I can bore myself just thinking about it so I am going to sum it up in a series of words and short phrases: New York City, London and no money, boats, significant others with licenses, and of course, the state that rules my life: procrastination.

How long have I been procrastinating? Well getting my license has been a new year’s resolution of mine since about ’96.  At the stroke of midnight I’ve jumped off a chair  (Danish), eaten 12 grapes (Spain) and banged the walls with bread (Ireland), or down a flute of champers (Various), all to no avail. I’ve owned the rules of the road code books for NYC, Singapore and now Thailand. In London and France, getting a license is so cost-prohibitive, I could never even consider it. When my SO at the time finally gave me birthday card promising lessons I reacted by running off to Turkey leaving him high and dry. The question remains whether I actually left ‘him’ or the idea of finally learning how to drive. Seriously though, I am someone who managed to quit smoking and yet I can’t find the willpower to follow through on this one.

About four years ago, I came really close. I had an eight-month-old baby and my husband and I were traveling to Mexico to introduce our little bundle to his family. The journey consisted of two flights to get there and four 4-hour road trips in a period of two weeks. Those of you with kids will know that entertaining a kid of that age, for that long, in the back of the car, would be the greatest incentive ever. By the end of the trip I vowed I’d get my license within the year. I went so far as to drag myself to the DMV, a feat in and of itself, pass the theory test, get the worst photo ever and receive my learner’s permit! But morning sickness, a miscarriage, and morning sickness again, culminating with a round the world move while 34 weeks pregnant put an end to that attempt.

So why now? Well this summer is a milestone birthday and I’d really like to get it before then. I am also going to be in France for two months with my two under 5s, relying on the generosity of others to put me up. Also, everyone I know lives in the sticks. It’s one thing to be in your late teens and call up your friends’ brothers and cousins to persuade them to drive you around the countryside to various parties. But I am pretty sure that 20 years on, me and two kids would be an exceedingly hard sell. Train travel with children that age, platform changes, steep steps to board, suitcases and just me is definitely one of the circles of Dante’s inferno. If I can drive, the trip could transform from torture to pleasure in one turn of the ignition key.

Tune in next week for part 2: guns, the art of zen, and never parking in Park.

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7 thoughts on “Fast and Furious in Bangkok: Learning to Drive in a Cloud of Complexity

  1. All the best to you in your driving and travels. I must say that I don’t think your lack of experience really puts you at level with crazy international drivers or their attitudes. Be on guard at all times and prepare yourself for the unexpected! I do think that if anyone can pull it off, you seem like the one to do it!

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