If you have driven around Thailand or watched the Thai news as much as I do, then you will know that Thailand’s roads can be very dangerous. In particular at night. I would never go on a long distance night bus for two main reasons: valuable items are often stolen from bags while you are sleeping and the driver is often under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In just the last few days I have reported on three separate inter-provincial bus accidents in Thailand. The first accident I passed myself in Rangsit in Northern Bangkok. The driver dosed off and hit the barrier in the center of the road flipping the bus over. Luckily no-one was killed. The passengers on a long-distance bus in Sa Kaeo the other day weren’t so lucky. The driver was going down a hill when his brakes failed. The bus flipped over killing six people including a baby.
Another serious bus accident took place place in the early hours of Saturday morning at about 3:30 a.m. It was another night bus. This time filled with 24 foreign tourists who were travelling between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. The majority of them were Europeans. I tweeted about this after I saw it being reported in the Thai media. The only information that I managed to get was that a bus flipped over in a heavy rainstorm in Chainat Province. First and only reports said one killed, 12 injured with four seriously. There has been no follow-ups. Certainly nothing in the English language press. Which, is not unusual. However, then I got an email from Rich Hartley who happened to be on the bus. He was badly bruised and had to have stitches. He is still recovering in Bangkok. This is his story of the events:
“Coming home from Chiang Mai on the night bus was the cheapest but certainly not the safest option. The bus flipped over at high speed on a busy highway due to a typically unsafe Thai bus driver. I’m alive but one woman wasn’t so lucky. We found her dead at the back of the bus. Her head had been crushed to a pulp from a big double seat that had flew off from its fittings. Typical Thai bus driver was pissed out of his head. He ran off when it happened. This is the part of Thailand that people dont see, this happens all the time! Im in a bit of pain but I’m alive which is the main thing.
“I was asleep when it happened. I only woke up because I had been thrown to the other side of the bus and my mate who was travelling with me was screaming at me because he thought that I was dead. It took a while to kick in, I was walking around dizzy and confused, and at the same time trying to drag others out. It just felt like a really bad dream only unfortunately it was real. Although I’m in a lot of pain it could have ended up a lot worse. The bus was only half full which helped bring casualties down. Not one seat was fixed to the floor and the aftermath of the crash was just chaotic. The bus company have paid for my hospital fee’s but this can’t go on. Every week you read about these crashes on the forums and nothing ever changes. This is just another reason to why I am disliking Thailand more and more.”
Channel 4 in the UK recently did a story called “The Undocumented Dangers of Thailand’s Roads”. This is what they said: “It is a top tourist destination – but what the guidebooks don’t tell you is that Thailand’s roads are lethal. Now a group of mothers whose sons died in a bus crash are campaigning to change that. Bruno Melling Firth, Max Boomgaarden-Cook, and Conrad Quashie – all 19 years old – arrived in Thailand for a 9-week holiday in June. They had saved up all year for a final holiday together before starting university. Four days into their trip, they boarded a night bus in Bangkok. There were heading for the ancient city of Chang Mai, which lies 11 hours by road to the north. They didn’t make it….” Read full story by Channel 4 News >>>
Although I spend most of my time promoting Thailand as a tourist destination, it would be remiss of my if I didn’t warn people of the dangers lurking beneath the surface. Unlike tourist brochures and some of the travel bloggers out there, I do make a point of giving both the good and the bad. By doing that I believe that you will be able to make a fair assessment of any risks. Often if you are forewarned of scams or potential dangers, then it is possible to avoid them and have an enjoyable holiday. I’m not trying to put Thailand down by pointing out these blemishes. All countries have them. I just want people to be safe and go home after their holidays with some good memories.
For news about the real Thailand, you can follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow.