Thursday, September 5, 2013

Expat Diaries: Transportation in Asia

Today I'm taking part in the Expat Diaries series hosted over on Chelsea's blog Lost In Travels.

Transportation in Asia is an interesting thing. There are most commonly a lot of people in not a lot of space so they have to come up with interesting ways to get places and by the cheapest means possible.

First there is the Taxi. Taxis in Cambodia are almost always Toyota Camrys. They try to fit as many people in one taxi as possible. Everyone shares their seat, including the driver. You can pay extra to have your own seat. Taxis in Thailand are much nicer, but be sure to get a metered taxi, or they will just give you a price. Sometimes they still try to get more out of you than what the meter says.
A line of toyota camrys just waiting for passengers

The driver is the one in the white hat. There are at least 10 people in this car.
Next is the Tuk Tuk. They look a little different in every Asian country, but they're a staple all throughout South East Asia. They're definitely more safe then riding on a motorcycle. Again, always haggle for the price before you get in. 

Ah the motorcycle; most motorcycles in Asia are actually mopeds. But there are just hoards of them in the cities. People drive like maniacs with no regard for traffic laws, if there are any traffic laws. There are motorcycle accidents every single day, and lot of them are deadly. You can rent a moto to drive yourself, or for very cheap, you can ride on the back of a motorcycle to your destination. 

Buses. Buses are the main mode of transportation if you're going far. Most of them are old run down greyhound type buses that were bought from Korea. We actually had really fancy nice buses in Vietnam for not that much more expensive than the run down ones. You can also take night buses. We did one in Vietnam and one in Cambodia. I'll never do one in Cambodia again, but I'd do it in Vietnam again. Buses are a lot faster than Trains in Thailand, and they usually give you free water and a snack.

Buses will play music, movies, and comedy shows at ear blasting volume. It's like heaven when you get one where the TV doesn't work. But at least their buses are often pretty fancy, I mean, look at those curtains.

Next is what's called in Cambodia the Touri. It's a 12-16 passenger van. Like the taxi they will fit as many people in as possible, so don't be surprised when there are 25 people in there plus a chicken or who knows what else. These are great for short ish distances, like an hour or two. You can often flag them down on the side of the road. Again, always haggle the price before you get in. 

This one is more travel in a village, or between small towns. I don't know if they have this in other SE Asian countries, but it's called the Romork in Cambodia. In southern Cambodia they're carts pulled by a motorcycle. In Northern, they're pulled by a tractor engine with handles. They are very very cheap and can be flagged down from the side of the road.

Lastly, there's hitchhiking. Honestly, this can be kind of dangerous for a tourist, but standing on the side of the road flagging down whatever will stop for you and then explaining you're a poor volunteer and trying to get a ride for free is pretty awesome. This was my favorite ride we ever got for free. 
Be careful when traveling around South East Asia. They see a lot of tourists and they get a lot of people who will pay way too much because they're used to western prices. For pretty much everything but a bus you should haggle the price before you step foot inside, or they will rip you off in the end. Almost never pay more than $5 to go somewhere(other than on a bus) except for going to Angkor Wat.


Rachel said...

Riding buses and other random forms of public transport is always an adventure! I think the most unusual transportation I ever experienced was riding in a 'trishaw' --cart pulled by bicyle. My family has done a lot of riding in tuk-tuks and on wooden benches installed into the back of pickup trucks. (How resourceful!!)

Susannah said...

This is so true! When we lived in Taiwan, we would fit all five of us on my dad's moped. Looking back, I don't know how my parents weren't terrified doing that.

Jacqui Calvert said...

Your posts make me want to travel again! I went to Nepal a few years back and the travel there was a pretty hair-raising experience. Crazy taxi drivers, no obvious road rules, it was mayhem but somehow it worked.

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

Interesting. I want to ride on a Tuk Tuk.

Chelsea @ Lost in Travels said...

this is hilarious! and you're so right, most of the time there are no traffic laws! that's part of the adventure when going to se asia, i have fun just watching the cars try to weave in and around each other!

happyeverafterbride said...

I do hate driving in SEA, but then again I am probably a bad driver because I am so used to the lax road rules there and driving slowly in heavy traffic all the time.

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Yikes, sounds a little scary to me!

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