Thai Humour – The Car Crash


In June last year I wrote a post titled Thai Humour Country Style which received a fair amount of hits and comment box response. The post featured a sleeping security ‘man’ who I was duped into taking photographs of. The incident turned out to be a classic example of Thai humour country style as I was fooled into taking photos of a straw man.

On my recent New Year trip to Loei and Phu Rua a gaggle or put a more appropriate way, a giggle of straw men appeared once again, but this time I wasn’t deceived by the spoof.

Thai humour like any other nation or culture comes in many guises and I believe slapstick comedy is probably the major source of laughter on Thai TV and big cinema screens.

Visual humour is another source of jocularity in Thailand and is very apparent in rural districts, you just have to keep your wits about you to see it in its sometimes bizarre form.

Wonderful Wi and I were travelling by car on the mountain roads from Loei to Phu Rua when the carnage in the photographs above and right caught my eye. On our return journey back to Loei I asked Wilai to stop at the scene of the car crash.

Thailand’s straw men weren’t going to fool me this time.

A classic case of Thai visual humour but maybe there was also a poignant message hidden there relating to Thailand’s annual New Year road death toll.

During Thailand’s recent seven-day New Year holiday period 358 people died in road accidents and 3,750 suffered injuries. Perhaps more classic car crash scenes like this one just might cut down those figures in years to come.

The car crash, classic humour or a message to eradicate a tumour which spreads itself like a dark shadow over Thailand’s roads each and every New Year. What’s your opinion, humour or tumour.

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© 2011, Martyn. All rights reserved.

20 thoughts on “Thai Humour – The Car Crash

  1. Martyn I saw something like this too out in the same area…I automatically presumed it was a reminder of what can happen on the roads, like the memorial crosses left on Australian road sides at fatal crash sites. Surely it can’t be an attempt at humour…can it?
    Snap recently posted..When neighbours behave badlyMy Profile

  2. Snap I’m in two minds about its purpose but in Thailand in can definitely be an attempt at humour. I actually found it quite funny, yet like you I did wonder if it had a more meaningful intent.

    I’m plumping for black humour because it looked like it was on someone’s land and not government property. In the background are a few market stalls which perhaps the owner rents out.

  3. Snap – This one was on a mountain road but there were a few houses adjoining the plot of land. Maybe I’m way wrong but Wilai also thought it was Thai humour with an added message behind it all.

  4. Snap I think you are probably right about the spoof being a warning to road travellers but not a government one, it’s a bit too tacky for that. I think the proper authorities would use dummies. I’d say it’s a local job aimed at humour and eye catching enough to give out the right danger signals. I’ll ring Wilai later and get more info on it.

  5. Snap I’ve spoken to Wilai and she agrees with you in that the spoof is predominately to warn motorists about the dangers on the road. She also in a roundabout way explained that there is humour there to make those dangers more eye catching and obvious.

    I saw the funny side of it all. I believe it’s Thai humour wrapped in a hazard sign.

    Wilai also said the spoof was a local affair and not anything to do with officialdom.

  6. Paul you’ll know what a beautiful area Loei is, some of the views are breathtaking but the roads very dangerous. You often see ambulances screaming up or down the mountain roads in attendance of yet another accident. I really do like Loei but I’m always glad to get back to the hotel safely and even happier when we’ve made it back to Udon Thani.

  7. Hi Martyn my local cop shop they do the same things(minus the straw models). You get some right gruesome wrecks there.

    Personally I think its a waste of space and will remain so while Thais get behind the wheel believing that their favourite amulet or whatever will protect them from a crash.

    In a reasonably well educated country I am still shocked by the appalling road traffic accident figures. It puts a blight on many of the positives of life here.
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  8. Mike I read your comment as tumour not humour and you are probably right. I’m starting to think the spoof is 95% aimed at road safety with a little humour thrown in to catch the eye.

    Wilai and myself travelled 500 kilometres to Loei and back, this was the only car crash spoof we saw. Thailand really does need more of this kind of thing to make drivers more aware of road dangers.

    Good point about the amulets and protection, that’s something which will be very difficult to iron out of Thai culture. That and drink driving are a marriage made in hell.

  9. I think the crash scene is a fitting reminder to those that see it, maybe it could be them later on, maybe it will make them think twice.

    From my take, Thai’s are just not the most ‘spacially aware’ folk on the planet… The bad ones drive way WAY too fast, and close, similar in a way to their queueing skills, which are legendary.

    The roads are the worst thing by far about Thailand. I never thought I would say it, but I would advocate speed camera’s!!! wherever they could fit them!!! Cos I hate that guy who drives a million miles an hour up my arse so much I just want him to get done.

  10. Happy New Year Ben. I know from reading the Thai Pirate you have been doing a lot of travelling around the country of late. I bet each night you were glad to get back to the safety of your hotel or wherever. There’s a comforting feeling to getting off Thailand’s roads.

    Travelling to Phu Rua from Loei involves a winding drive up a mountain and you pray to God nothing is coming the other way when you tackle some of the bends. I think most Thai drivers probably don’t even see the spoof car crash I photographed. I’m afraid nothing will change until the government decide to get really tough on motorists and that will probably never happen.

  11. Martyn, the macabre never had held an attraction for me (don’t like blood) but I can see why Thais would create such a scene. Car crashes are such a way of life out here that they can only laugh for dying. Something like that.

    This month I saw what I believe is my first road death. I was coming back from a day out and glanced to a small gathering of people to my left. They were on the side of the highway looking down at a guy with a motorcycle on top of him. It was like he’d done a wheelie but just kept going over – his arms were up and the bike on top. I only had a few minutes and the scene was gone. So he could have been laying there hoping that someone would help, or he was dead. I’m going for dead.

    Thank you for mentioning your straw man as I needed the link. I’ve been running around Thailand looking for a scarecrow story of my own and I just found it. Stay tuned…
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  12. Catherine I’ve seen quite a few road accidents whilst in Thailand but never any close up, not that I’d want to.

    The more I look at the spoof the more I’m convinced there’s very little humour in it as far as Thais go. I thought it was funny but I think it’s just their way of putting over about the dangers on the roads.

    The straw man story went down quite well and you’ve now got me intrigued as to what angle you’re putting on a scarecrow story. I’ll look forward to reading it.

    My proper scarecrow story is Scarecrows and Black Holes http://www.thaisabai.org/2010/03/thailands-scarecrows-and-black-holes/

  13. Talen I seem to find the straw men on my travels around Thailand and this set up really caught my eye. I guess that’s what its meant to do although I didn’t see too much sensible Thai driving on the mountain roads of Loei.

    Thailand needs to reproduce more of this kind of thing because humour and reality might just be the combination to click a few brains into gear.

  14. Emm the death toll figures from Thailand for the New Year period are terrible but it’s the same every year. They have drink driving laws but there seems little effort or inclination to implement them. I didn’t realise South Africa had the same problems.

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