Motorcycling Thai Style!

Ian Bungy

Sep 19, 2006
Given the Road Rage was getting a bit Serious here is something on the Lighter Side!

"The Way of the Thai Biker" (or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding)

Most religions are burdened with the concept of opposites such as good and evil, heaven and hell, and light and dark. Buddhism however recognizes the inherent one-ness of all things and sees these supposed opposites as facets of the unity and totality of existence. To follow the way of the Thai Biker, you too must cast off all illusions of duality, such as the concept of two traffic lanes moving in opposite directions. The Thai Biker sees both lanes as part of the one road, and both directions as an expression of the eternal flow of all things. When you have grasped this, you will understand why Thais swerve fearlessly into oncoming traffic to overtake, and why they are completely serene as they hurtle along a busy road the wrong way. This is because there is no wrong way, only ‘The Way’. 'The Way' is clearly outlined in the Thai Highway Code, which consists of a single teaching, 'He who dares wins'.
It’s the same with traffic lights. To the enlightened Buddhist driver, red, amber and green are not different colours, but simply different ways of seeing the same traffic light. Unlearn such confusing Western notions as ‘right of way’ and your inner eye will open, and guide through the intersection. Remember Green Amber and Red all have the same meaning, refer to the Highway Code for more guidance.
In Thailand, existence is not a linear progression from birth to death, but rather an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. As one’s soul gains experience and enlightenment from each lifetime, that soul is reincarnated, until Nirvana is achieved and the Thai Biker escapes from this eternal cycle into a state of perpetual bliss. You never die, because life is a mere Honda Dream. As such you should never fear death, even when careening along a twisty Thai highway at 200km an hour with a bottomless chasm beside you. This life will end when it is time. No matter how often you check your mirrors, a pick-up truck can hit you from any direction making that time now. Accept this as inevitable, and you will be free to follow the way of the Thai Biker, overtaking on blind corners and driving in the rain at breakneck speeds without a helmet, or at night without lights to guide you.
Those who wish to spend a little longer in this lifetime should be especially careful when driving past Buddhist temples, because the drivers coming out have probably just made merit, an ideal time for reincarnation while the getting is good.
Be like the water, which is the essence of all life and, as such, has many lessons to teach us. Water can seep through even the smallest crack, and so too can the Thai Biker. He can manouever into any space between two speeding vehicles, no matter how small it may be, or at what speed he is travelling. When confronted by an obstacle, water does not stop, but flows around, never losing momentum. So too must you.
Patience is also necessary when starting off, or turning across an oncoming lane of vehicles. You must slowly edge onto the road, keeping an eye out for even the tiniest cracks in the teeming traffic. What is the sound of one horn honking? As you travel the road to enlightenment, you will ponder this repeatedly. The answer is childishly simple. It depends on how many times it honks. One honk indicate that someone is overtaking or coming through, while a series of several honks is meant as a warning that someone is trying to move you along the path to enlightenment.
There is also the puzzle of the turn signal. A blinking left indicator can mean the driver is about to make a left turn, or it can mean he is about to make a right turn or no turn at all. Understanding intractable questions like these is the secret to mastering the way of the Thai Biker.


Sep 4, 2007
Fantastic Ian, with the half century rapidly approaching, this clear understanding of Thai riding principles, should guide and protect you well through the second half.. Wether there are more centuries ahead in a different incarnation?.??, well I guess we will find out one day,,,or not!:crazy::lol:


Jul 25, 2010
Brilliant Ian, now finally I understand, well not really but at least have an appreciation of why what is going on around me is the way it is. So now I can stop thinking.


Oct 31, 2009
Master Ian
Please accept my sincere gratitude for your Motor cycling zen explanation.
Upon showing your mail to my beloved, she now understands why after I return from a long day in the saddle,I proceed to consume liberal amounts of the lords juice and always want to perform(try) a fertility dance with any of the fair sex nearby.
Your humble

David Learmonth

Apr 23, 2006
Brilliant! Similar to the attitude in India. According to my Indian friend, it is impossible to have an accident that is "your" fault. Should you have one, despite how fast & reckless your driving, you are blameless. The responsibility is with one or several of your "gods" who at the time of your accident, must have been looking the other way!


Jun 5, 2008
An excellent analytical prose there Ian.
I also know that enlightement comes to them when, after surviving a life threatning brain surgey caused by riding in the above manner and not wearing a helmet.
Most of the above is spot on and a difficult mindset to understand by us westerners who are sharing the same roads as them.


Oct 17, 2006
Ian your post is so spot on and I have personally seen the results of thai drivers who are completely immersed in a Bhuddist nirvana dream ,but also I must add caveats that of course western logic also has no place in much Thai thinking ...ergo driving etc and add in the ''thinking is bad for you'' so prevailent amoung many Thais who then believe it is best to switch off their brains for an easier life and you are now well prepared to understand Thai road sense .


Jun 20, 2010
Thanks for that! That was really funny...and true! haha
I put it on my blog (all credits given). Hope you don't mind.


Nov 21, 2010
Thanks Ian for a beautiful & truthful written approach of the Thai roads ... or actually Thai life style. Yes religion destroys more as you think. Never the less I do hope improvement at least on the road will overcome to Thai because there are so many avoidable deaths on the Thai roads.

Chang Noi


Nov 2, 2007
Hey Bungy very nice prose that we can all relate too mate and most very true. Thailand is just one of many South East Asian countries that has many bad riders/ drivers due to low standards of driving tests and driver/rider education and training. So Training, Ignorance and no fear attitude is my view why Thai riders / drivers are so dangerous, it has nothing to do with Religion, Buddha or any other form of enlightenment. Stay safe mate and keep an eye out for the next young fellow who wishes to prove his riding abilities by riding faster than the road, environment or conditions allow.

Cheers Ken F


Oct 6, 2006
Spot on...and thank you, Ian.
Yet, I'm not sure if those perceptive words just brightened my day with humor,
or gave me second thought about biking.
I guess I'm not ready for enlightenment, nor the chance of returning as a cockroach ;-)