This Is Thailand #1: Overloaded Cargo

In my summary article late last month — “I’m Still Here!” — I mentioned having accumulated a number of photos on the theme of unusual, unexpected or humorous things seen in the Kingdom of Thailand. It is quite common here to see things that leave you scratching your head and the usual expat response is simply, “TIT” — short for “This is Thailand”, meaning “No explanation necessary”. The countless misspellings, odd translations, construction misalignments, entire families (plus the family pet!) riding tiny motorbikes, and so much more become part of the landscape after one has been here awhile. However, if you stop noticing them altogether that may be a sign you’ve stayed too long!

I’ve lived in the “Land of Smiles” for thirteen years and nothing really shocks me anymore. There are still pleasant surprises and for those I am grateful. Nothing here makes me really upset or angry (anymore). The occasional “unfortunate” incidents are dealt with in a more-or-less Thai sabai-sabai (“easy, no problem”) manner and quickly forgotten. I was even able to laugh at my near-arrest (paperwork completed but not filed) for walking on the sidewalk (“impeding traffic” as I couldn’t make room for motorbikes desiring a shortcut rather than using the road) within a day or so of it happening. Most of the “TIT” moments I take in stride and many I find endearing and part of the reason that I love living here. I hope that you find enjoyment in them as well.

This first installment of “This Is Thailand” features a common site on Thai roadways: pickup trucks carrying much more cargo than they were designed for. Many Thai families sustain themselves by selling items at the numerous local markets, either open-air or enclosed. Many of these are transitory in nature and the vendors may follow a weekly circuit. In transporting their items — food, clothing, counterfeit VCD’s (yes, more of those are sold in Thai markets than DVD’s), or any of countless other items — they desire to take as much as possible to the market and return with an empty vehicle. Why make more than one trip? Why buy/borrow a second (or third or bigger) truck? It’ll fit!

Additionally, one sees trucks carrying huge amounts of rubbish (I think they pay you 50 baht per TON of paper or aluminum at the recycling center here in Phuket) or construction equipment. Not long ago, I witnessed a very long flatbed truck loaded with a much, much longer concrete pylon get stuck while attempting a U-turn across a 6-lane highway. Most mishaps occur when the load becomes too much for the truck and lifts the front into the air. Occasionally, the truck bed will detach from the cab for a real problem.

I wonder if these torpedoes have had their detonators removed:

While not exactly overloaded, those pickup trucks and mobile food-carts laden with ingredients and utensils dangling from the roof covering tearing down the roads always fascinate me. I’m surprised that things aren’t just flying out the back whenever the vehicle hits a large bump or pot-hole.

One also sees people transporting large items on the back of woefully-underpowered motorbikes (called “scooters” anywhere else in the world). Bags of rice and produce are probably better transported via a side-car attachment (called sa-ling in Thai)…

A pillion rider carrying a television set or a step-ladder is a common sight but a stainless steel sink may raise a few eyebrows.

Dead pigs are also seen on occasion, and never with a good result.

In Laos, I saw pickup trucks and mini-vans transported on flat-boats across the Mekong River, but never anything as large as these big rigs and trailers as seen in Thailand:

NOTE: Many of the images I will share in this series are those I’ve found in various expat groups on Facebook or other online forums. I thought about crediting the original posters, but have realized that most of these images have been shared so many times it is almost impossible to know the initial source. Should you identify your own photography here, please contact me so I can provide a proper credit or remove the image if you so desire. Any of my own photography will give location and date that I took the picture.


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