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Safety Second

sunny 33 °C

Due to the overwhelming, (dare we suggest "gloating"), interest in our near-death experiences, we thought we would take you to the dark side of life in south east Asia. It soon became apparent to us that the locals enjoy a wake as much as the Irish, which, we assume, is why they are so careless about safety - especially other peoples'.
The roads are the New Killing Fields. Here on the small island of Koh Samui we are reliably informed that two people a day die in motorbike accidents. Motorbikes are deadly, especially when racing down the sidewalks to avoid traffic jams - like these guys in Ho Chi Minh...
Wide, uncluttered sidewalks are almost non-existent here, but our delight in finding a stretch was always marred by bikers using it as a shortcut, or by open sewers or massive unprotected potholes such as this ...
Sea travel is always risky, but an inspector from the Canadian Transport Safety Board would be instantly driven insane here. We've been on boats where the liferafts were welded to the deck to prevent theft; where life-preservers were a few old lumps of polystyrene jammed into the roof struts; where the only way on and off was to leap from a steep, muddy bank; where, if you were fortunate, you could balance your way across a bendy plank. Safety rails? What safety rails!
Try riding a motorbike aboard the Gabriola ferry like this!
The locals take it all in stride and laugh at us 'falangs' as we tread fearfully. But everyone here lives on the edge. Some of them live on the edge of the main trailway line, like this ...
... and some on the edge of the river, like this ...
And this isn't a monkey up a tree. Take a closer look. It's the municipal arborist testing for rot. Notice the complete lack of safety equipment.
Ladders, scaffold and safety ropes are for wimps here, but construction workers all wear knitted woolly hard hats and steel-toed safety flip-flops.
Death and disfigurement are very much part of daily life here, but we were puzzled by the almost total absence of handicapped people in wheelchairs, until we realized that they simply can't exist here - there are no facilities for them whatsoever: no ramps; no unobstructed footpaths; no adapted buses or taxis. If you really want to make an Asian shake his head in disbelief and give him a good belly-laugh, tell him that we have specially marked parking places for the handicapped.

Posted by Hawkson 19:17 Archived in Thailand

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My jaw drops even lower with this entry than your airbag one. Driving at night there must be impossible. That chap ready to ride up the "ramp" gave me the shivers.
In ridiculous contrast, the Quinsam has just been down-rated by one hundred passengers because of safety concerns! Don't tell any of your Asians. A belly-laugh that big might be fatal.

by R and B

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