Thursday, September 9, 2010
10 sep 2010
On another note, I am now a Thai driver. You may have already read about my experience getting my driver's license. I just got my car, and have eased into driving on the left side of the road. Actually, it's quite easy and virtually intuitive. What is NOT intuitive is trying to back up, since I have to turn my head in the opposite direction to what i'm used to to. Backing up is a valuable skill here because all places with mall-style parking feature back-in parking. The aisles are a bit narrow, so everyone backs in to get out more easily. When I get a chance, I'll show you a special feature of thai mall parking: double-parking and leaving your car for people to push it out of the way. But I'll describe it here, because in fact the car is specially equipped to be set up for this! Next to the gear shift, there is a place to insert the car key! With the car turned off, you insert this key and pull the car into neutral. In this way, if you double park, blocking people who are parked in the actual spaces, they will very carefully push your car out of the way, and pull out of the space. This would never work in the US with people screaming "don't touch my car" and also people not being quite so careful about things. You have to see it to believe it. It's almost a tourist attraction, I think.
So far my longest drive (the day after I got the car) was a trip to Ayutthaya proper, about 30 minutes, mostly on quiet country highways, one a white-knuckle road (the one that goes by my house), with one lane in each direction and people pulling out to pass. The other road, about 20minutes of the trip, is a divided highway and later just a city street. I even managed to fill the gas on the way back. There are all kinds of fuel here, including E20 (from vegetable oil; usable in my car but not best performance), Diesel 85, LPG, NGV (most buses, and some people add a second fuel tank of NGV to their cars; it's dirt cheap, but kind of scary), "gasohol" 91 and gasohol 95. I am recommended to use 91 or 95, with 95 the best option. That is one lot of octane!!! 95 costs about 30 baht a litre, about 95 cents a litre, which is probably about $3.50 a gallon or so. Not cheap. NGB is only about 8.50 and LPG 10.50. Absolutely no self service here, but a tip is not expected at the gas station, though "keep the change" rounded up is common, I think. At least that's what I do!
Okay, ready to drive in Thailand?