In the last few months, I have learned that driving has an ‘alternate’ set of rules when in Asia. As a past avid motorcyclist, I had a Harley for a couple years and gracefully put on more than 20,000 miles, I was always a very safe driver/rider. I always ALWAYS wore a wore a helmet when I rode in the States – even in the states with no helmet law. I always rode with jeans/pants, boots, gloves and other ‘safety’ features. Rode on the right, always used a blinker, only passed when safe. blah blah blah
Here’s the good part. I uhh, ‘renegotiated’ those rules with myself over the last four months.
Here is a small excerpt of “You Have Never Ridden a Motorcycle If:”
Which is basically all the things I have done in the last 45 days (and I really hope my mother doesn’t read this….)
1. On the left hand side of the road
2. In flip flops & shorts
3. As a passanger, holding a beer in each hand
4. Riding side-saddle
5. In pouring down rain where you aren’t sure if you are getting more wet from the water falling from the sky, or from the six inches of water you are driving through.
6. Down the wrong way on a one-way street
7. No helmet
8. No shirt
9. Bribing cops
10. Ditching cops
11. Splitting lanes
12. Passing on the sidewalk….
13. Passing on the left… and the right
14. Playing chicken with Taxi’s
Basically, driving a motorcycle in SE Asia, you follow a few rules, and everything else is legal.
Rule 1 -> Might is Right – big ass trucks, tour buses, oversized SUV’s and even taxi’s rule the road. The bigger you are, the more you make the rules. If a Taxi wants to race towards you in a game of chicken, you DO drive into the ditch. Honking (refer to Rule #2)
Rule #2 – >Honk. No one uses a mirror, and to keep from being sideswiped, honk. Keep honking until sideswipe danger ceases. Which usually means you are honking all the way from Point A to Point B.
Rule #3 -> If honking doesn’t work, and the taxi/car/bus/other motorbike is too close, feel free to reach out and tap/slap/hit the said offender. It’s okay. More than acceptable, but respectable.
Rule #4 -> If you break a ‘driving law’ and a cop doesn’t see you, it doesn’t count. If the cop does see you, but can’t pull you over, it doesn’t count. If the cop does see you, and pulls you over (by means of stopping traffic in both directions and standing in the middle of the road, grabbing your handlebars as you try to pass), you hand them $10 and you are free to go. So it really doesn’t count either.
Rule #5 ->Stop signs (if there is even a stop sign at an intersection) are optional – refer to Rule #2 and just keep going. Street lights are a little less optional… which means, people actually stop, even if briefly before engaging in Rule #2 and continuing on their way.
Rule #6 -> Have fun. If you aren’t having fun in the chaotic madness that is driving, then you should really go back to the States and drive your Subaru Outback on a 55 mile per hour freeway while safely drinking your decaf soy latte from a travel tippy cup.