Saturday, December 1, 2012


After a half year of having our bicycles be our major source of transpo, we’ve added two others. The first is a samlaw (aka tuk-tuk). Wikipedia calls them motorized rickshaws and I guess that’s about the best two-word description. Our other addition is a motorcycle for Thip, but let me tell you about my tuk-tuk, first.

The samlaw is, in my opinion, the best all-purpose vehicle for the Thai countryside. Of course, all Thai’s will tell you a truck is better, but then you have to deal with the payments and maintenance. I bought our tuk-tuk (samlaw) for about $400 USD and had it fixed up for an additional $100 USD. So, for about $500 USD, I have a vehicle that I can drive on the country roads (and even on the shoulder of the highways, though I shy away from that as much as I can), that can transport stuff and people, and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or gas (benzin).

OK, so I never go over about 20 Km/hour and it’s funky, but I’m not in a hurry and I don’t care what people think about me all that much. Our villagers are sure that I should be driving a new 4WD truck… Been there, done that. No need to do again… Ah, no money to do again!

Initially, I got psyched out of riding my tuk-tuk cuz I had problems reaching the motorcycle gears with my left foot and the roof was too low. These vehicles are made, after all, for Asians, not Falangs. The vehicle sat in our front yard for a couple of months gathering village gossip as I debated what to do. Finally, I decided to learn how to drive it despite its small size and make my own compromises to get it done. This mostly amounts to me having to almost stand-up to shift gears... but I’ve learned how to do it and now do it well.

I think I am the only Westerner who drives a samlaw in our area of the province. Haven’t seen any falang in Nong Bua driving one, that’s for sure. In contrast, in the province of Udon Thani, quite a number of falang have tuk-tuk’s and even customize them to be top-of-the-line.

Now, on to the better vehicle: Thip’s Honda Wave 110i

It’s brand new and, really, THEE perfect vehicle for country roads if you don't want to transport much. Of course, Thai’s will tell you a 4WD truck is much better, but… You Know…

I believe this is Thip’s first owned vehicle in Thailand and second in her entire life. Her first vehicle was Taz’s surf wagon, back in Santa Barbara, which she bought with her own money.

It took her a while to learn to drive and operate the motosai, even though she’s ridden motorcycles many times before. The weight of the Honda is what throws her off, but in my mind, that just points to its sturdiness. I love to ride it on the back country roads, on occasion, and Thip, of course, is stoked. She still lets me know she wants a car, but really, the motosai fits her needs far better.

I don’t think we’ll get a car or truck, much to the disappointment of our village. I have the samlaw, Thip’s got her motosai and when we need to go on long range trips, we take songthaws and buses. They’re cheap, reliable and social!

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