So the short version of this story goes:
- Today I got caught speeding 50kph over the (unposted) speed limit
- I paid a fine on the spot and was released
- I love Thailand!
I have this running joke with people who ride in my car and ask what the funny device attached to my windshield is – “It’s a 7-11 detector,” I always say (I’ve NEVER seen another radar detector in Thailand, so their curiosity is understandable). Sure enough, it starts beeping madly whenever we pass a convenience store (or anywhere else with automatic door sensors), so this explanation may be less facetious than it sounds (then again, maybe not). Well as it turns out, it might as well have been a “7-11 detector” today when it started beeping wildly while I was driving on a flat stretch of highway between towns.
The beeping surprised the hell out of me, because all around, there was nothing but typical Isan scenery: A few trees, rice fields as far as the eye could see, a couple of skinny cows, and the tall spire of a temple half a kilo down the road. I consciously noticed that I had become desensitized to the sound of my radar detector – I didn’t brake and instead just let off the gas a bit, convinced that it had picked up on an errant signal sent from the cosmos, or perhaps a stray radar wave bouncing off the dusty Thai ionosphere. The last thing, the absolute last thing I thought it could be was a speed trap, so you pretty much see where this story is going.
The men in brown were waiting for me a kilometer down the road. Luckily, Nam was in the car with me and she took care of the whole thing. they wanted me to pull over and wait to be processed. They wanted my driver’s license. They wanted to know if I knew I had been driving at least 130kph. When all was said and done, they wanted to get paid. My fine for speeding 50kph over the limit?
That’s like, six bucks.
In Japan, I’d instantly have my license revoked and be fined thousands of dollars, plus maybe get a free night’s stay in traffic jail.
Like I’ve said before, some things are just really cheap out here in the sticks. The funny thing is, we actually paid more than normal (for around here, at least, in Bangkok, etc., it’s a lot different), because this was a special traffic safety crackdown taking place to reduce accidents for the Songkran holiday period, which starts tomorrow.
I love Thailand.