Christin, a student at Chatham University, spent a semester in Thailand with CISabroad, and was fascinated by all the different methods of transportation she saw there. You will be too.
One of my very first impressions of Thailand was how different the transportation was from that found in the United States. After disembarking from the plane, after far too many hours spent awake, the hour-long drive to Salaya provided me with a dizzying view from my window. This impression was reinforced during my semester there, as well as my time spent traveling to other regions in Southeast and South Asia. I wanted to share some of the interesting modes of transportation I saw during my 5 months in Asia. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it gives a glimpse to the eclectic and always interesting mix that can be found, from the gravelly back roads to the massive highways.
Motorized Food Stalls
I quickly found that many of the best restaurants in Thailand could roll away on a moments notice. Most street stalls have wheels but the level of power greatly differs, for example, some are attached to motorbikes and others to bicycles.
Auto rickshaws, or Tuk Tuks were ubiquitous in all the countries I visited. They can be a fun way to see a new city, but keep in mind they vibrate intensely and offer no protection from the often-horrendous traffic pollution.
I saw a huge variety in the types of cars driven in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, I found that the majority was in very good repair, sometimes more so than in my home city it seemed. On the left is a picture of the old fashioned white cars that appeared to be popular among politicians in India. On the right is an image from the New Year’s water celebration in Laos, in which people both in and out of the cars douse each other with water.
On the left was a typical bus that I would take to classes in the morning. The doors did not function anymore, which was nice as it provided a breeze on hot mornings. Megabuses were also very common for tours and trips both domestic and international. On the right is an image from a University club fieldtrip to Ayutthaya, Thailand with Thai and other international students.
Waterways remain an integral part of everyday life in Southeast Asia, whether for transportation, shipping, or recreational purposes. In central Bangkok, boats carry passengers and cargo through the canals. In the image in the middle you can see brightly painted boats that carry passengers from the mainland to smaller islands off the coast. On the bottom, rows of boats are moored along the sleepy Mekong River.
There are so many more that could be added to the list…from the crowded overnight buses, to the speeding vans, to the converted pickup trucks, Southeast Asia has it all. To me, this fascinating variety seems entirely at home among the vibrant, often chaotic, bustling everyday life that attracted me from my very first day there.