Readers' Submissions

Recalling My Thai Bus Experience

  • Written by B Glikman
  • December 12th, 2006
  • 4 min read


We were about to come back home after a long day of shopping in Wong Wieng Yai. It was a very hot day so we sweated like experienced gym goers. Nevertheless, it was a successful day as my wife and I had found the exact bracelets we were going to send abroad to make some much-welcomed extra baht. The only wish I personally had was to take a shower as quick as possible. Air conditioner would make it even better. In addition, I yearned for a frozen bottle of Pepsi, and a cigarette after first suppressing my thirst. Thinking about these forthcoming pleasures helped to overcome the unbearable heat of early afternoon.

The quickest way to get home and enjoy the previously mentioned mortal weaknesses was to take a taxi. My wife had a different idea. No! Contrary to popular belief, she did not want to continue shopping. My spouse was exhausted. She was determined to come back home not less than I was, but (and this appeared to be an important but) she decided to do it by use of public transportation.

Five years back, I had no clue what the public transport was like in the City of Angels. In other words, I was a green farang, so I totally depended on my wife. She was also my guide, translator, and best friend (the only one I had). I trusted and still trust her with my eyes closed. My wife knew that I wanted to experience Thai life to the fullest so maybe this is why she took it so serious that day. To this day I have never blamed nor even asked her about that because peace at home is primary!

Hence, I did not argue with my wife when she said that we would jump into a bus. As I clearly recall, she used the word jump. Indeed, I must confess that I appreciate my wife's honesty. The following description of entering into a Thai bus proves once again that foreigners from the West tend to take a long time to work out Thai ways. In fact, compared to our homes Thailand is different in many aspects of life and many things that are taken for granted may turn out to be different. What seems to be taken for granted back in "farangland" might not be the same in Thailand. Many view Bangkok as quite similar to other megapolises around the world, however, things, even the simple ones, may be performed in a weird way; not always logical, so not accepted back home.

Back again to a bus station scene. I asked the route number. Consequently, I stood ready to enter a bus after identifying it as the one that we required to complete our journey.

Suddenly, my wife began to walk unusually quickly. I was worried, so I turned back to see whether there was anyone approaching with ill intentions. Nothing seemed to be unusual. Then her pace increased as the bus arrived.

People, who waited with us at the bus stop, followed my wife as if she were a comrade in a battlefield. I could not understand what the rush was about. Maybe, someone performed a controlled experiment to see if a foreigner would join the herd in a situation like this. Anyway, I remained there with a feeling that I was defending my position. Five seconds later, my wife JUMPED into the bus. I could not believe my eyes; she had just jumped into the bus, which did not stop. She did it so professionally, like she was born with the "jumping skill"- truly an acrobat. The others leapt following her cue.

Apparently, my wife thought that I followed her. When she failed to spot me among the folks in the bus, she shouted at the bus driver to stop, and then she returned to me. I was in shock. She was surprised. I enquired whether I was standing in a wrong place. My wife did not find it important to answer my question, instead she had one of hers. She wanted to know why I did not jump into the bus. I explained that in my country, the buses stop only at the bus stops and from there they collect passengers. The bus driver would literary stop the bus, in order to wait until everyone is inside and then close the door. Only, after that, he will speed up. Always, it will be only in this sequence of events.

I realized that Thai public transportation operates differently from the western. Thai bus drivers do not stop to collect people; therefore, bus passengers have to hurry to jump into a bus, which in my opinion may cause serious injuries, in some cases even death. In addition, Thai bus drivers usually do not close bus doors. This is also dangerous, because Thai buses are frequently overcrowded, so people are likely to slip and fall from the bus while standing close to the open doors. As far as I am concerned, it has happened more that once in past. I do not understand why Thailand, which strives to achieve many of the western world's standards, tolerates this phenomenon?

Your serious thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

B. Glikman

Stickman's thoughts:

Thai buses and Western buses really do not have a lot in common…