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International Driving

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Don’t know if it’s just Oaxaca or maybe it’s the whole of Mexico. However, my dentist says that drivers in Oaxaca are worse than in Mexico City! But in Xalapa they were ever so polite…big fines meted out if they are not.

But you are taking your life in your hands in Oaxaca. The taxis and buses are the worst…speeding, honoring no lanes…forcing you over. No stop signs, lights, when there are lights and when they are working, are suggestions only. And then there are the “topes” or speed bumps everywhere. Never know when one is coming up unless you watch the cars ahead and hope they slow down…however, one, with drivers from Veracruz, didn’t slow down until they got to the tope. Then they stopped. Bam. Their little car could do it. My big Toyota Land Cruiser couldn’t. So I slammed right into the back of their car. Good thing no one was hurt. Good thing for insurance.

Actually I expected this…but thought I’d get side-swiped by a bus. Now I know why Mexican immigrants in the north get into so much trouble! A couple years ago in my home town in Oregon I was T-boned by an immigrant going through a red light at about 60 miles an hour…she had no insurance. No one has insurance here except the expats.

There are rules here…just not the posted ones. And heaven help you if you don’t obey them! Boils down to buses and taxis and very small cars do what they want…and that includes just about everyone. Except the gringa with the Toyota with a US license plate. Yes, I know I should have put more space between me and car in front. You get conditioned to keep close…cars, buses and taxis will try to edge into even a sliver of space forcing you over. If you leave a lot of room…say a couple car lengths you never get to where you are going because the whole city will move in front of you.


Thailand is no better. Was rear-ended by a motorcycle there once. Today got an email from Bob who is living in Thailand: “Now if I could only learn to control my mini-rage reactions at Thai drivers,” he says.

“Earlier this week I was driving in a line of autos and a bus tried to pass the whole line of 5-6 cars. He encountered oncoming traffic and cut in front of me–not really in front more like forced me onto the shoulder.

I offered selected auditory and visual feedback. (Had to laugh because the same thing happens here in Mexico!)

But the curious cultural phenomena is that I was the heavy in that I lost my cool. But driving is very unsafe here–most trips (even to the market) produce an anxiety or at least an edge of apprehension. And the Thais cannot park. It is humerous to watch them attempt a parallel park, most often most of the car is left somewhere out on the street. And I have two significant dings being clipped me while I was parked. Oh well…..” 

I think I detect a note of Thai-speak in that syntax.

A Bus To Trang

Friday, May 20th, 2005

While I was on Koh Samui visiting Luk, while Doug was in Oregon, we decided to hop a bus for Trang where Luk’s family lives. This is my second visit here. We stayed in a nice hotel…Luk trying out the kareoke downstairs with her cousin and some friends…and visiting her mother and grandparents again.

I bought some jewelry in a local shop…had my ears pierced again and visited the Sunday market where we ate some delicious local food which, being in the south of Thailand is a bit different.

At the end of our visit, at the bus station, Luk bought a traditional Thai cake for her friend that was taking care of her dog, Ting Tong on Koh Samui.

On the way back a motorcycle hit the rear of the bus. Watching the bystanders, police and others through the window of the bus for an hour in the heat was more than I could take. There had been many buses passing us to Koh Samui. I left the bus and approached the driver who was just standing by the side of the road and asked if we couldn’t please leave the bus and get on another one…but just then he took his seat behind the wheel on the bus and we were off…aborting my ready attempt to throw a hissy fit and thoroughly embarrass Luk.

After a month on Koh Samui with Luk, I took a flight back to Bangkok on Bangkok Air.

Trekking Northern Thailand

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005
gatQye8keZlS3vpnwrOvxg-2006186163905868.gif As soon as we returned to Bangkok from Bali Bob took a train to Chiang Mai for a trek in northern Thailand near Mae Son Hong. I stayed in Bangkok to have some ... [Continue reading this entry]

Post Christmas in Bangkok & Escaping The Tsunami 2004

Wednesday, December 29th, 2004
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171170004499.gif A month in Bangkok On the morning of December 26, 2004, after a bowl of spicy Thai soup on the street outside my Bangkok hotel, I returned to my room and flipped on the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Miao Village In Guizhou

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171171225701.gif In Shanghai, exploring the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree web site, I noticed a query from a young woman from Kaili in Guizhou Province who was offering to arrange a homestay in a Miao minority ... [Continue reading this entry]

Yangshau & Shanghai

Monday, November 15th, 2004
1wXSp3CkNsDoJl3s0SgHmw-2006171171225701.gif To Bob When I sent e-mail had not seen your messages. Your place sounds great--will spend a couple more days here before moving on--would like to access your place. gonna run back to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pissing Match & Fast Food

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004
East China.gif Yesterday, off the train in Quin Dao, the station workers weigh by bags and want to charge me money...for having my baggage on the train! I get my back up and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Message from Ulaan Bataar

Saturday, October 9th, 2004
GyTjn0QZP9l6Qu21TubskM-2006198062551304.gif Greetings- Have been in Mongolia for the past week--initial few days in a ger bordering on a national park--lazy, relaxing days with hiking and Mongolian pony riding (when on the horse my feet nearly reach ... [Continue reading this entry]

Grueling Border Wait

Friday, October 1st, 2004
The wait at the Russian-Mongolian border is a grueling 5-6 hour wait for customs to go through each carriage and take our passports, return to the office to fill out forms and then return with our passports. Olga takes ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bob & The Europeans

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004
There is something in the European demeaner/attitude that brings out my anti-establishment posturing. On the flight from the U.S. to Frankfurt (Lufthansa Air) my seat was broken. "No problem," said the sweet little blond frauline in braids. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Ripped Off In Prague

Friday, August 13th, 2004
NikaFEAe66TwIiJDaeZZ7w-2006198180634090.gif My medications, that had gotten held up in Custums in Frankfurt, finally arrived in Berlin via fedex. We had planned on taking the train through Austria and Hungary but now we are ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bob’s Thai Village Visit

Saturday, December 28th, 2002
While Jana and I were playing with Chinese teenagers in Ruili in the south of Yunnan, Bob spent some time in an ethnic village in the mountains in Issan Province southeast of Chiang Mai in Thailand. The people were Thai ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pissing Match In China

Friday, December 13th, 2002
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif When Bob took a box of purchases to the Old Lijiang post office they asked him to take everything out one by one. This had not happened when we sent boxes from China before. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Echo & Li…Competitors

Tuesday, December 10th, 2002
jWLtBzsBGHTUmbHjYHypj0-2006185073225366.gif Monday Dec 9 2002 In Old Town Lijiang, we are woken up by a knock at the hotel door at 8am. Two couples from Taiwan were on their way to Zhondian with a driver ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hitching-Hiking Europe In 1965

Thursday, September 16th, 1965
The summer of 1965, the summer I turned 21, a friend and former roommate, Barbara Stamper and I arranged to meet in London in June. She, a teacher, found an economical route to New York going by train across ... [Continue reading this entry]