Stickman Readers' Submissions February 4th, 2004

Harrowing Ride

Part of the program at the school where I worked was to make sure that the farang teachers got an opportunity to experience Thailand. There were 5 farang working at the school – A Canadian (me), two Americans, a German and Japanese (with his wife). At the beginning of the school term we were quite a tight group and I was especially friendly with the German teacher who had helped me quite a bit in my adjustment to Thailand when I first arrived at the school.

A school curriculum planning weekend was planned for a weekend at a resort near Khorat. But as farang, we had little to do since, as per usual, all discussion was in Thai. So after making an appearance on the first morning we quickly left in a mini-van to do some sight
seeing. In addition to our farang group there was a Thai woman as our guide and the Thai driver. In the beginning of this trip, things went quite well. We had an interesting visit to Phi Mai, visiting the ruins and huge banyon tree. We stopped at Korat to spend the night and next morning we left for Khao Yai park.

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The German was nervous about our driver (a school employee). Apparently he had had some bad experiences with him while driving in Bangkok. I observed him as an aggressive driver with an annoying tendency to gun the engine constantly in jerky spurts but other than that I saw nothing particularly wrong.

The trip to Khao Jai was on the return leg of our trip. I suppose the driver was in a hurry to get this over with and get home. His driving became more aggressive as the day wore on. At one point he cut off an on-coming motorcycle to the point that the cycle came to a skidding halt…my German friend was not amused and started grousing behind me. Me?…well I didn't like what I saw but held my tongue.

We finished sightseeing in the park and now it was about 6:00pm. The driver now let out all stops in returning home. We were flying down the highway at 120 kph. It was only a 2 lane road with no shoulder and huge ditches on either side. The German was quite agitated now and was yelling at the driver to slow down. The driver, who spoke no English just ignored him. The woman who was our guide seemed unconcerned and said nothing to the driver….the rest of us just hung on, quietly staring out the window.

We flashed through villages along the way, travelling a minimum of 100 kph through them. We came up on motorcycles and people walking along the edge of the road and whizzed by mere foot or so from their side…if they stumbled…well…

We hit a bump and water from a cup in the German's hand flew everywhere. He started babbling now…I was quite concerned myself but was as annoyed with being showered with water as I was with the driving habits of our driver. Appeals to our guide to tell the driver
to slow down resulted in nothing done.

I was in the second bench seat on the passenger side, the German was in the next bench seat behind me. I looked through the windshield and saw a dog in front of us…ba-boom…ba-boom we ran over the dog, not even slowing down. The German lost it at that moment. Yelling at the driver to stop the car, he lunged over the seat and my shoulder like a snake, trying to grab the driver.

I barely had time to grab his shoulders as they flashed by me and luckily had a firm enough grip to stop him…he was barely able to touch the driver's shoulder with his outstretched hand. "Get the fuck back in your seat!!!" I yelled at him. "He hit a dog!"
the German screamed. "Yes, he hit a dog! but your going to get us killed…now get back in that fucking seat!!!". I was furious…at the driver for driving so dangerously and at the German's stupid actions. You don't grab the driver of a vehicle going down a 2 lane highway with moats on either side doing 120 kph. I didn't come to Thailand to stupidly die in a traffic accident.

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The driver didn't slow down at first, looking over his shoulder shouting also at the German in Thai. I was using every F-expression in my colorful vocabulary to get this stupid guy back into his seat…which he eventually did. Our Thai guide is also yelling at me to calm down…I stared at her, thinking 'you bitch, why didn't you do something before it got to this point…you're lucky he was behind me and not you…we'd be rolled over in the ditch somewhere if it weren't for me'.

The driver then did slow down to a reasonable speed and soon we arrived in a traffic jam near Salaya, our destination. As we were stopped, an American in the front seat with the driver suggested he and the German get out of the van and catch a cab…that was fine by
me as I was tired of the panicky SOB. Apparently the American had seen the driver fingering a lead pipe and thought it best to get him out.

We, farang teachers, wanted the driver sacked but after an "investigation" nothing was done. Apparently the driver was a "native" Thai and there was some talk about it being dangerous to do so. Mai pen rai….

This incident soured my relationship with the German. I told him if he ever tried that stunt again I'd drop him with an elbow in his back. The driver came around to me when we had stopped at the school and shook my hand. He didn't know I was as mad at him as I was at
the German that day. Quite the wild ride!

Stickman says:

Great story, but a difficult situation to solve. Personally, if I am ever in a car with a crazy driver, I'll tell him to stop. What if he doesn't want to stop? Tell him you need togo to the toilet or about to throw up – that will get them to stop. But yeah, some of the local drivers are total fuckwits – there is no other word for it.

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