Side saddled


Dear Hillary,

I love the way the Thai girls sit sideways on the rear of motorcycle and wonder where did this custom come from?  China adopted bicycles, but Thailand seems to have adopted the motorcycle.  Do you know why this is so, and also when did the Thai girls start to ride pillion in this strange way?  I must say I have never seen one fall off, but I suppose they must.  Any answers are appreciated.

Peter Pillion

Dear Pillion Pete,

China, I believe, adopted pedal power because of financial reasons, but the Thais have always been better off and adopted the gasoline engine for boats, cars, trucks and personal transport (motorcycles) very early.  The art of riding sideways came long before the nasty two strokes from Japan hit our shores as Thai women have always been very fashion conscious.  Figure hugging sarongs and skirts are not new.  They were wearing them over 100 years ago, and try slinging your leg over a buffalo in a tight skirt, my Petal.  No, you can’t, so they sat side-saddle on the buffaloes.  Sitting side-saddle on a motorcycle was a very natural progression, otherwise the skirt would have to be hoisted around the waist to get on.  Something you men wouldn’t mind, but something us naturally shy Thai woman would not countenance.  Take a look at the clothing the girls are wearing.  Tight skirts means side-saddle, while jeans means sitting astride the nasty, malodorous device.  “Do they fall off?” the simple answer is yes they do, but not because they lost their balance.  They only fall off when the rider (or the person nominally in control of the machine) loses balance, and down the four of them go, including the two girls sitting opposite each other, but still side-saddle.