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Motor Scooters in Thailand

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Over the years traveling in Thailand I’ve always enjoyed the van rides around the country. I love seeing the scenery and watching life unfold by the side of the road. And then there are the motor scooters.

Scooter Dog

Dog on a Motor Scooter

In Thailand, you never know what you’re going to see go by on a motor scooter. Kasma took this picture of a dog balancing on a motor scooter as it shot past the van in Chiang Mai traffic. Apparently the pooch has great balance! She said it was one of many such scenes that she saw during her trips the past year.

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

The most people I’ve ever seen on a scooter was 6 (one of them was a babe in arms) but it’s relatively common to see a family of 4 or 5 perched on a scooter, at least out in the countryside – you don’t see it as much in Bangkok.  I took the photo to the right in Hua Hin at a stop-light – presumably the three children are being “bussed” off to school.

Four on a Scooter

Motor Scooter as Family Transportation

On one of our travels in Thailand, Kasma and I ended up on an island where motor scooters were the only mechanized form of transportation. After getting off the ferry, there was only one guy on a motor scooter left to take us to the resort on the other side of the island, so the two of us, with a piece of luggage each, piled on behind the driver. At least he took it slow!

In Bangkok you’re likely to see motorcycle taxis that you notice primarily for the dare-devil antics past your window as you sit in traffic. I think of them as a thrill sport – the one ride I took (and it was on a relatively slow street) was enough for a lifetime! Young women in skirts usually ride side-saddle on the back.

Market Scooter

Motor Scooter as Pick-up Truck

Motor scooters also function as pick-up trucks. You’ll see almost anything being carried on the back, from television sets, to ladders (4 on one scooter), to produce, a Buddha statue,  piles of boxes . . . nearly anything you can think of.

Kasma took this picture at the (indoor) market in Hua Hin. It’s fairly common to have motor scooters inch past you in the crowded lanes of a market, often, as we see here, laden down with deliveries going to the vendors.


Written by Michael Babcock, April 2009.

The Other Side of Thai Food

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

When you think of Thai food, no doubt a plethora of delicious dishes come to mind. Pad Thai. Green Curry. Tamarind Prawns. Shrimp Cakes. However, there is a whole other side to Thai food that you come across while traveling in Thailand. Often it’s the result of adapting Western foods into a Thai context: this can lead to food that you probably wouldn’t eat on a bet. I say bring on the fried insects – one of the last things I would ever choose to eat in Thailand would be wieners with cheese in a crust, such as that found at a Bangkok mall. Thank you very much! There are a lot of other good dishes to eat.

Wieners in a Blanket

Wieners in a Blanket in Thailand

Thai Cake Store

Gateaux ("Cake") House

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Thai Donuts

Donuts in Thailand

Each year, even in the open-air markets, I see more Western foods for sale, particularly the sweet stuff. Decorated cakes seem especially popular – the picture to the right was also taken at a shopping mall in Bangkok. There’s even a chain restaurant, S&P, that is known for their Western-style cakes.

If what I see in the markets is any indication, Thai people do have a sweet tooth. These brightly colored donuts are from an open air market in Bangkok. I’ve also seen donuts on a stick. 

Two or three years ago, a Thai friend took us out to dinner and then, as a treat, took us to a trendy dessert place. The main attraction there was big, puffy, white bread that was toasted, cut into chunks, and served with a cloyingly-sweet syrup; most of the syrups were brightly colored, much like the donuts in the picture here. 

Cute Faces and Wieners

Cute Faces & Wieners

I get a bit of a chuckle out of what I think of as “cute food.” The best example I’ve seen was at a park in Krabi – it was little cute faces on a stick along with wieners. I’m guessing it was some kind of fish paste; I confess I did not have the desire to actually try it.


Written by Michael Babcock, March 2009.