William Blake

Death rides pillion

Death and mayhem on Thailand's roads

A Rescue van speeds past and my group of friends, nestled comfortably in our rental car gliding along the highway, converse about the merits (or otherwise) of the private rescue services in Thailand. About a kilometre down the road reality slaps us hard in the face as we stumble across the reason for the Rescue van’s haste…

In the mirage-inducing, asphalt-melting, face-burning, mid-day April heat of Thailand, a motorbike rider and his pillion passenger have been knocked off their bike by a hit-and-run driver. The bike is in pieces littering the clean and ordered highway. The two men have, quite literally, come to rest a few inches from each other. The impact of hitting the road at speed has torn the rider’s shoulder from his body, and blood the colour of a deep-polished fire engine flows freely, adding unneeded drama to an already unspeakable scene.

The man’s head is almost face down and his neck is twisted like a macabre bendy-toy. I can see his eyes as we pass. They stare intently, as if trying in vain to register the magnitude of the scene unfolding before them. The air is a black cloak of stillness. The girls in our car let out an instantaneous and simultaneous gasp of….

Recognition. That’s what it is. The sound your body makes when it sees what it must never fully comprehend. The sound of your mind recognising. The stoic Australian drives on, burying his shock deep. Deep. The pragmatic Korean shudders involuntarily but forces her mind to calm itself. The superstitious Chinese-Thai asks politely if we mind if she rolls down the window to scream. She does so. She screams our private shock for us. I rub her leg, but not for the selfish pleasure we are accustomed to. For comfort. Sharing the recognition that this time it’s not us. We are not pieces of bloodied, torn flesh lying motionless in the Asiatic heat. We are alive. We can feel. We can talk. We can express ourselves. We can scream.

The driver of a song-taew has pulled over so his ghost-hungry Thai passengers can disembark and stare at the unfolding drama. Stare at the bodies of ‘the others’. The ones who are no longer ‘us’. For how could they be us? Death happens to other people.

No one removes their shirt or jacket to cover the faces of ‘the others’. The faces. So still. Yet they can see. They know. They understand.


No comments yet

Post your comment

Comments are moderated and will not appear instantly.

Featured Jobs

Multiple Primary Positions in International School

฿50,000+ / month


Pre-School and Primary School Community Service Teachers

฿80,000+ / month


Secondary Computer Teacher

฿25,000+ / month

Chon Buri

English Conversation Teachers for October Start

฿35,000+ / month


Fun and Youthful NES Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Nakhon Pathom

English Teacher/ Health Teacher/Science Teacher

฿40,000+ / month


Featured Teachers

  • Christian

    American, 28 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Evgenia

    Russian, 44 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Sara

    Iranian, 29 years old. Currently living in Iran

  • Rudolph

    South African, 47 years old. Currently living in South Africa

  • Catherine

    Filipino, 27 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Jeffrey

    Filipino, 22 years old. Currently living in Philippines

The Hot Spot

Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?