Traffic in Asia

Through I'm not a driver, either at home or on the wild roads of Asia, it seems clear that there is a very different approach to driving in south east Asia compared to more sanguine western roads. Without wishing to get too philosphical and earnest about a topic that is actually a lot of fun, I wish to compare approaches to driving to differing political systems.

The roads of the west are communism in practice: each driver sacrifices their individual wishes for the good of the collective, the traffic moves at a pace which is almost identical to all, vehicles of all ages, makes and quality share the road as perfect equals with all being indentical before the traffic gods.

The roads of Asia, however, are pure unadulterated capitalism. Rather than having a common speed, vehicles move at vastly different speeds and are constantly overtaking in an effort to reorginise the road hierarchy. Faster, newer vehicles happily kick dust in the eyes of older vehicles. Every driver fights for themselves, with there being no collective spirit at all. Lanes are what you might consider a serving suggestion rather than a hard rule: it is not uncommon to see vehicles driving indefinately on the wrong side of the road, usually in a half-hearted effort to overtake but more importantly just enjoying the easy ride in the wrong lane.

I think I am reading too much into this. Goodnight from Saigon. When I leave, I'll really Miss Saigon, but for now I'll just wake up greeting the world with Good Morning, Vietnam. That'll keep me amused for a couple of days.


Hamish said…
Te he he.....
Miss Saigon.....
Good Morning, Vietnam......

Glad your having fun Ari, I've read so much about South East Asia and it is a fascinating place. I am so jealous though, cos I haven't been able to make it there myself though
Michael Barnett said…
Hi Ari,

You describe my recollection of Bangkok in 1990 quite precisely. I think it is somewhat more ordered in Bali yet despite the apparent confusion and mayhem people have descibed the driving style as "co-operative".

Whereas people in, for example, Melbourne, drive somewhat selfishly, thought not exclusively so, people in some SE Asian countries tend to drive for the common good of those in around them on the road (perhaps literally on the road!).

I may just need to re-experience the vibrancy of SE Asian driving as I haven't seen it for a few years.

Hope you're being a merry ho.

Anonymous said…
I'm itching to comment, but I think I'd be well advised to keep my mouth shut on this one ;)

Keep it up!
(oh, did I tell you about my run in with a pole last week...?!? No joke!)
Anonymous said…
Melbourne's roads - Communism; Bangkok's roads - Capitalism. What do you call the backroads of the Mallee? Solitary confinement?

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