AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

It’s Friday and as usual I downloaded the latest edition of The Economist. Perfect timing as today we take the train back to Bangkok then another train journey to Kanchanaburi, about 4.5 hours on a train in total. Anyway, I was reading this article about road safety: Road safety: Reinventing the wheel Road safety in Asia seems to be either completely ignored by governments and the police or everyone just breaks the law and seems to get away with it. A lot of Asian driving techniques appear to be based on luck, if they did it before and it worked they’ll do it again (until their luck runs out). Cutting corners, skipping red lights, just pulling out onto a road are all normal driving techniques. In most of Southeast Asia, in the cities and large towns at least, there has usually been a footpath at the side of the road. But, that footpath is usually used for anything but walking. In Vietnam almost all paths were used for restaurants, shops and moped parking. This made the paths almost unusable and we had to walk on the road, which in Vietnam is a terrifying experience. In China the footpaths are often shaded by trees, great to keep you out of the heat but annoying because the tree trunk takes away about 75% of the path width and also creating a very uneven path as the raised sections of soil provide a huge number of obstacles to avoid (I tripped on these so many times!). Also the path is often used by mopeds to keep them separated from the cars. In Thailand most footpaths are an extension to a shop or are in such bad repair that it is easier and far quicker to walk on the road. As The Economist article states the simple measure of having usable footpaths is a great way to improve safety, but there should be enforcement to stop encroachment onto the path. Driving techniques and modes of transport vary around the region but the one thing they have in common is appallingly low standards (which in a slightly arrogant way annoys me because I can’t drive in many of these countries without paperwork when I’ve passed tests in the UK far above and beyond the local standards). In China it feels like the people have just bought a car and driven off. Lanes in the road appear to meaningless as people just drive all over the road, ignoring the lines and swerving in front of each other. The law stating that turning right is allowed at any time regardless of traffic light colour results...

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