Renting a car or a four wheel drive truck in Thailand is not that cheap when placed on comparison to other things like hotels, food, public service travel and the fuels that each type of transport drinks. Renting a car does however open a whole new world to visitors to Thailand and getting up country away from the tourist regions allows one to witness the relaxed way of life the rural population lives.
Driving off road can involve negotiating pot holes, snakes and the inevitable couple of cows or worse still a large herd of buffalo that gets you praying that the insurance covers all eventualities.
Thailand’s main highways are of an excellent standard but once you leave the tarmac and hit the dirt track standards fall almost as deep as some of the potholes you encounter. The rainy season from June through to October makes driving conditions far worse and the roads deteriorate even further. During those wet months some country roads can resemble a carpet bombed jungle runway.
The heavily laden trucks that provide the materials for the continuing boom of modern day house builds in villages plough up the weather beaten dirt track roads reducing your speed to a crawl and turn the short cut into a more time consuming drive.
As the rainy season passes and endless sun filled days return the same heavy trucks once again crumble and flatten the dry roads into more passable routes and vehicles kick up red dust from the dried out dirt tracks that are like a descending red mist to the many motorcyclists forever passing to and fro.
Travelling through villages and vast fields of farmed countryside you pass temples, markets and get to see the everyday rural folk working the rice fields and other harvested crops. Wonderful Wi passed her driving test over two years ago and I like nothing better than to sit in the passenger seat taking in the magnificent views and snapping away with my camera. Occasionally something turns up that really catches your eye.
The grainy photo above was taken from the safety of our car and I am pretty sure it was a King Cobra that was blocking our route on a quiet country road when we were not too far from our village house in search of a puppy dog farm. The snake just sat there in the same exact position for a good two to three minutes and eventually with her eyes half closed Wi steered slightly off road and around the two and a half metre reptile.
Wilai and myself both have a massive fear of snakes and I think if our car had later run out of fuel along that road then only starvation and strong daylight would have forced us to exit our motor and go seek help. On our return to our village we showed the photo and were told in Thailand a snake that crosses in front of you is a sign of good luck. I’ve got my own opinion on that one.
Car rental will cost around 1000 – 1500 baht a day in Thailand for a decent four door modern saloon motor but the advantages away from the tourist spots make the extra layout to your holiday budget well worthwhile. Car hire allows Thailand to come to you and visiting some of the natural beauty spots, ancient temples and local markets in the smaller towns is a much more easier and comfortable option and seeing Thailand going about its everyday life is the thing I most enjoy. The picture above is a simplistic one but a sight I would never see back in the UK and one that reminds me of the rural life I miss so much. Car hire and off road travel really does bring real life Thailand into full view.
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