Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Motorcycle thieves (or the lack of them) - Pattaya, Thailand

A few years ago in Milan someone stole my brother's brand new scooter. It was parked in his building courtyard, the door to the sidewalk locked, secured to a post with expensive and inviolable chain and padlock.
In Thailand you park your motorbike wherever you find a good place and at any time of day or night, you simply lock the handlebars (but you might even not do it), you leave your helmet in the basket and maybe a shopping bag hanging on the hook. You come back a few hours later or even the following day and everything is still there.
But there are a few more details that many of you will find quite interesting:
- on average Thais are much poorer than Italians and other Westerners, even poorer than most of the immigrants who live in Europe or America.
- motorcycles, even the ones made in Thailand, are not so cheap, especially if their price is compared with the buying power of a local average salary.
- Thai helmets suck and are pretty useless in case of an accident, however they are always handy in order not to get a ticket and it would be very easy for someone who is not carrying one simply to snatch yours, invitingly hanging from the rear mirror.
- other problems-cum-excuses such as drug addiction and suburban decay also exist in the main Asian metropolises. 
In short, that famous Vittorio De Sica's film (see image above) became a masterpiece of neorealism because it was based in Rome. Had it been shot in Bangkok it might have been a  sci-fi cult movie.

P.S. while it is true that you won't easily get your bike stolen in Thailand, if you park it in the wrong place (for example in front of a shop owned by an irritable, possessive and vindictive guy) you might have your tube punctured with a needle...yes, it happened to me a few days ago in Pattaya. Fortunately I was able to have it replaced for a few baht by a motorcycle taxi driver who repairs his colleagues' vehicles as a part time job. At 11pm! I don't wanna know what I would have had to do in case that had happened in my hometown...

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