We went out with one of the Partners’ staff members, Matt, on Wednesday to learn how to drive in Mae Sot! We’ve already been out and about on our motorbike, but we needed to learn in the Partners’ trucks before they’ll let us take them out into town and to the refugee camps.
Stephen did great. He’s pretty chill about things and, not surprisingly, took it all in stride and did fine.
Not so much for me. I hate driving in the States, and this is far worse. I have yet to drive the motorbike, even, and haven’t driven a car since about December. And Thailand is just terrifying.
Matt described it very well: In America, we are trained to assume someone is there until you know it is clear. In Thailand, they assume no one is there until they see you.
Also, over half the drivers are on motorbikes, plus a large number of bicycles. When you are in the car, you’re the most dangerous, by far–and to make it worse, most motorbike drivers have never driven a car. I hadn’t thought about this, but when we’ve grown up in cars and driving cars, we understand how difficult it is to see everyone around you. We understand how difficult it is to stop quickly. We have concept of how far to stay from large vehicles.
No such concept here. Motorbikes will cut off cars or ride right next to them in a blindspot they know nothing about. As the driver of a car, you have to be utterly aware of everyone around you, and if you aren’t, lives are at stake because most everyone is on a motorbike, exposed, without a helmet and with flipflops on.
Thus, I was horrified. I hate having such power to kill people, by sheer accident, nonetheless!
I also don’t like having the blinker on the opposite side, so I’m constantly turning on the windshield wipers (in dry season) and scaring myself (and drawing stares).
Either way, we both passed. I’m still planning on Stephen driving unless there is an absolute emergency. I think it’s best for everyone.