Getting around Bangkok is often like trying to walk up a downward running escalator. Slow, frustrating and makes you sweaty.

So ubiquitous is the traffic problem in Bangkok that getting anywhere involves long waits in traffic, slowly adding the levels of benzine in your system.

Planning ahead would be the logical choice in dealing with this issue. And in a logical city that would make sense. The trouble comes with the illogical and frankly capricious nature of the roads here. One day at 3.07 PM the roads will be so clear that a battalion of elephants could saunter around unmolested by motorbike taxis, trucks, tuk tuks, busses or anything else on wheels that goes ‘broom’. The next day, on the same road, at the exact same time it will be total gridlock.

To illustrate the feeling of entering a traffic jam in Bangkok for those lucky souls to have not had the pleasure, I will be using the 5 stages of loss and grief as a model.

Stage One: Denial

No, no, no. Can’t be traffic at this time, surely. I left early and everything. I’m sure it is just some idiot ahead reversing into a driveway, holding everyone up. We’ll be moving shortly. No doubt about it.

Stage Two: Anger

For God’s sake, why can’t we just have a bloody road system that works! I mean, it can’t be that hard. And what are you doing, you can’t go anywhere you moron! Stop trying to cut in front of me, you can’t go anywhere CAN YOU!? If I can’t move, then YOU can’t move, it’s very bloody simple isn’t it! Where the hell have all these bloody motorbikes come from? Oh for the love of all that is holy WHY AREN’T WE MOVING!

Stage Three: Bargaining

Dear God/Buddha/Flying Spaghetti Monster, I know I used your name in vain a minute ago, and I suppose I haven’t really been a good person recently, you know, with all the swearing and drinking and not really believing in you. I promise that if you could see your way to clearing up this mess of a road in the next fifteen to twenty minutes, I’d be super grateful and would maybe consider going to church/the temple/er…the internet?

Stage Four: Depression

It’s just so unfair, you try and leave early and this happens. It’s like the world is against me. Let me put The Smiths on the CD player. They understand me. I think I might just expect die in this car, trapped forever on the Phetchaburi Road. I doubt anyone would notice. My bones would be blanched by the sun yet preserved by the aircon. In a thousand years, when the traffic clears, archeologists will refer to me as the ‘Minburi Man’. Oh why cruel fate, why?

Stage Five: Acceptance

With inner light I see that the desire to get to work is merely a worldly manifestation of evil. Ohm. To be stuck in traffic is to be released from desire. Ohm. Ah, mister motorcycle taxi, you may go ahead, using the side of my car as a handy place to rest your feet. Ohm. But surely you see the futility of wanting to travel quickly between two points within the great city of Bangkok and it’s surrounding areas. Ohm.

Once you have reached this stage traversing Bangkok is a breeze.

Until the next set of traffic lights when the whole cycle starts again.


7 Replies to “Traffic”

  1. The longest I’ve stayed in BKK was a month and I made damn sure I was on the BTS line. I’m not sure how you can get anywhere else. I mean, yes, I’ve been in cars and taxis, but it’s is kind of ridiculous when you are watching the meter and you’re late for dinner and someone from the next car offers you mary jane and you’re like, “What?”

    What a city. Love it though. Then again, I’d never drive in it. Time to invest in some books on tape – ur – CD. Maybe an air horn, too?


    1. The bts is fantastic. We live about 20 mins taxi ride from it (except when there’s traffic – in which case it’s an hour). Driving here is both massively stressful and huge fun. I may go into why at another time. So stay tuned. Or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This made me laugh, especially your apology to Buddha/God to now lend a helping hand πŸ™‚ I’ve spent a bit of time in Bangkok and it’s definitely a good place to practice your presence and ‘Ohm’!


  3. No different from any old city. I remember we were there for a day back in 2003 heading to Calcutta from a 6-year absence. Bangkok felt like home.

    A woosh bang shower leaving us stranded on a pedestrian bridge. The suddenly flooded street below us. The moped rider on the wring side of the cab, getting knocked over, picking up his moped, exchanging words with the cabbie and off they both went. No deaths, no blood, no harm!

    Just like home!

    I also remember the electronic signs showing a count of the traffic fatalities that day!!


    1. At new year there are charts of road deaths in the papers each day. Which helps to break this ice at parties.

      Yeah, there are a lot of accidents mainly involving motorbikes – some are as you describe, some more fatal.


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