If you have never heard of or seen the book “Farang, the Sequel”, don’t worry, because you have now. It’s a brilliant book, even if I say so myself (because I wrote it), but amongst the chapters there are ones on driving in Thailand, about which you will all agree with my sentiments.
It has been said many times that when it comes to road accidents, the prime rule is “Farang pays”. I do not disagree with that at all, but the more savvy you get, the less you have to pay. Take for an example, my brush with a 10 year old on a motorcycle. And I quote from the book, “I was coming home and crossing a suburban road. I looked down to my right and it seemed to be clear. Three quarters of the way across I suddenly saw a motorcycle coming at me on the wrong side of the road and he was unable to stop and gently bumped my front mudguard. The rider was about 10 years of age and his pillion, his little brother, was around eight. Neither was hurt, although the rider had twisted his ankle and was limping slightly. (In retrospect, I wonder if they have limping lessons in the Thai school curriculum?)
“Getting out of my car, I forgot all about ‘jai yen’ and my farang indignation boiled over. I had been run into by a damn 10 year old who could have no license and on the wrong side of the road. This was not my fault.
“However, I had forgotten the ‘farang pays’ rule. This stems from the ingrained concept in Thailand that if the farang hadn’t been there, the accident would never have happened.
“In short order, since I ignored their demands that I pay for the (slight) damage to the motorcycle, the police arrived, an ambulance arrived and a tow truck arrived. Honestly, none of these players in this scenario of stupidity were required, but it was my stupidity that was compounding all this.
“I got down from my high horse, rang the insurance company and within 30 minutes their representative arrived and everything was smoothed over. For a paltry 5,000 baht the parents of the ‘injured’ boy were appeased, the policeman forgot about the fact that the boy was underage, the ambulance and tow truck left the scene and everyone was happy again. Other than me.
“I should have kept my cool, smiled and apologized a lot, and looked as if I was interested in the welfare of the boy. Then, if I had given the parents 1,000 baht I would have been away and home in time for tea. There are ways of doings things in Thailand which must be followed, at the risk of your own (financial) peril.”
First published in Pattaya Mail on November 21, 2013