Side saddle

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1676

Dear Hillary,

I’m a bit new to Thailand, so I’m probably not the first to ask this, but why do Thai women sit sideways on motorcycles? When did it start? Have they always done this? You would never see anything like this in England, so it really blows me away every time.

Sideways Sam

Dear Sideways Sam,

You seem to have your eyes open here, but you must have had them closed in the UK. Go to any horsey event and you will see the women riding side-saddle. Even the Queen of England used to ride side-saddle for the trooping of the color. However, getting back to your question regarding riding side-saddle here, it is for the sake of decency, young man. How can a woman in a long skirt, or even more in a short skirt, look polite and decorous with the hem hitched up above the hips, and legs hanging down each side of motorcycle (or buffalo or elephant)? Thai women have had wrap skirts for years and rode animals side-saddle, long before the motorcycle arrived in the villages.

Would you prefer it if we gazetted laws like those in Connecticut, with Section 14-289c saying, “Any person who rides sidesaddle on a motorcycle and any operator of a motorcycle who permits such riding or who carries a passenger on any motorcycle not designed for passengers shall have committed an infraction.” It could be worse, in Montana’s State laws, “No passenger shall be carried in a position that will interfere with the operation of the motorcycle or quadricycle or the view of the operator.” And again, “No person operating a motorcycle or quadricycle shall carry any packages, bundles, or articles which would interfere with the operation of said vehicle in a safe and prudent manner.” Those two laws would bring the local motorcycle community to a grinding halt. No small child in front of the rider, and a side-saddle passenger or two on behind and no shopping bags hanging from the rear vision mirrors. The streets would be empty, Petal!