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Ryan Hendry is a former detective and lawyer from the UK. He is now a freelance writer living in the Philippines. Ryan has a Filipina partner and hopes to be married to her later in 2016. He has traveled extensively in Asia and is a veteran of the Asian online dating world. He has experienced online, and physically met, some scammers, including unscrupulous ladies from Thailand and the more obvious scammers from Nigeria. Ryan is keen therefore to share his experiences and uses this platform for his blogs as CLM and ALM is committed to hunting down all scammers. Ryan, despite some of his experiences, respects Asian culture, loves Asian food and is now happy in the Philippines!
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International Dating: My Story - Driving and Life In SE Asia

By Ryan Hendry
266 Views | 2 Comments | 10/18/2017 2:35:34 PM
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It started to rain as I set off from the house in Kanchanaburi. The D Max fully loaded with our belongings. The rain was steady enough to make me switch on the windshield wipers. The first time I had done so. You have all experienced what happened next. The view through the windshield became completely obscured. The wiper blade needed replacing. It had moved the dust and crap alright, but had just smeared the whole screen. As luck would have it, an Isuzu dealership lay within easy reach.

 

On checking the blades, I found one had no rubber left on the arm. Okay, if I have to be totally accurate, there were a few shreds of rubber hanging off the arm. This surprised me, being confident that the truck had been thoroughly checked by the American in Chiang Mai. Maybe it had been overlooked?

 

Noi went in to the dealership and returned a short while later. “Yes, they fix now,” she said. About one hour later the truck had two new wiper arms and blades. I queried why two? One of them seemed okay to me. “That is normal,” came the reply. I thought it could be a scam. You know, let’s charge the foreigner for two as all foreigners are stupid. But, on checking the written invoice it was a pleasant surprise. The wiper arms and blades seemed a reasonable price. The real surprise came in the form of the labor costs. About one quarter of what it would be in England. Stuff like that always puts me in a good mood.

 

So, I set off once more in that same good mood. We had a long drive in front of us, all the way to southern Thailand. The first few hours of driving involved edging towards Bangkok then navigating around it. Until we hit the main highway that heads south all the way to the Malaysian border. I encountered two hazards on this highway. The first being that the monsoon rain storm started. Thank goodness I had new wiper blades! But even on the fastest wipe, it became difficult to see what lay in front. Visibility during the storm dropped to about 100 yards. Time to slow down! I slowed down but not all the other traffic on that highway. Some carried on zooming by at speeds in excess of 60 mph. Crazy! But that isn’t a feature of driving in SE Asia. The same types of crazies drive like that in thick fog back in the UK.

 

The other hazard involved a combination of overladen trucks and hills. A potentially deadly combination. And this is a feature of driving and life in SE Asia. It is normal practice for the locals to overload their vehicle. It doesn’t seem to matter how large or small the vehicle. How the hell some of those overloaded trucks stay upright is a mystery to me. Of course, this means that truck is going to be slow, extremely slow, climbing hills. Much of the main highway I was on is hilly. There are some steep inclines. The trouble is that it is a two-lane highway and easy to get jammed up behind a slow moving truck on the inside lane. The additional problem lies in the fact that it is sometimes difficult to assess the speed of these trucks. You must stay sharp.

 

Some hours later and after some hair-raising moments, it was time to find somewhere to sleep for the night. We still had many miles in front of us. Darkness had fallen so it was a case of looking out for an illuminated sign to give us a clue that there were rooms available. This is where I would have come unstuck without Noi. All the signs were written in Thai script. Left to my own devices, I would have ended up say in a veterinary surgery rather than a hotel. Noi also performed other useful tasks. One was remaining calm at all times during our trip. No matter how scary the moment, she retained that sang froid. Nothing is worse than having a freaked out passenger. She also massaged my neck and shoulders during the long drive. That kept me going on the long road ahead.

 

About 8 pm we found somewhere. A small resort type accommodation just set back off the main highway. I sighed with relief when informed they had a room available. It had been a long day. It was like a small motel with adjoining rooms. The rooms were quite spacious with tiled floors and a large bathroom. before bed, we sat out at the front of the reception area and ate some dinner. The hotel owner, a pleasant local woman, cooked her own food in a kitchen at the back of reception. We enjoyed the food and washed it down with a couple of cold beers. I was now ready to sleep.

 

A thought struck me while staying at this motel. I mused on how safe it seemed to leave the truck loaded with our belongings. Okay, the D Max was parked right outside our room. But, we had left it unattended and loaded up several times during pit stops. Never did I have to worry about thieves. This is in stark contrast to the UK. I could never leave a truck loaded and unattended there. It would be an open invitation to thieves. Perhaps this is because of the Buddhist influence? I don’t know the answer but these cross cultural issues intrigued me.

 

It wasn’t the only thing different about my new life in Asia. I could not fail to notice the differences in attitudes to public displays of drunkenness. I had not seen a Thai drunk in public. I’m not counting Frank, Noi’s brother, on the day of our wedding. That’s different. I am talking about groups of drunken youngsters cavorting around in public. They are a common and unwelcome sight in the UK.

 

Enough thinking. Time to get back behind the wheel.

 

 

 

 

 

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#2017-10-18 14:35:19 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

This is another blog that takes me back. When I first went to China, about 6 months in as best as I can recall now, my first Chinese love (as she then was) and I took a trip to Thailand for 10 days. We landed in Bangkok, but grabbed a rental car at the airport, and started a road trip to Koh Samui. Relative to your trek to the far south, ours was a pretty short jaunt, and probably wasn't much more than the first leg of your trip, if even that.



But it was a full day of driving, and the first few hundred meters of it was the worst few hundred meters of driving I have ever encountered. And I do not say that lightly. I have driven well over a million miles in my life, through incredibly rough terrain of Northern Alberta and the far north of Canada where the big rivers were crossed by little ferries in the summer and on ice bridges in the winter. I've driven backroads of the Canadian Rockies that were so narrow, and so high up that it seemed as if you were bound to slip off of them and fall forever. I've driven hundreds of miles in snow blizzards that allowed you to see a few short feet in front of your vehicle.



But nothing prepared me for the few hundred meters from the car rental lot behind the Bangkok airport to the first on ramp to the highway.  That short distance of space, that was not really a road, but just a roughly 50 meters wide paved space of vehicular pandemonium. There were vehicles of every possible kind, from huge trucks and buses, to RVs and SUVs and Vans, to cars like our rental, to motorcycles, to 3 wheeled tuktuks, to bicycles, to guys pulling carts with living passengers, and in amongst all this traffic, hundreds of pedestrians skittering about in all directions.



All moving without regards to who might have the right of way, with no lines on the pavement whatsoever, no traffic signs, no signal lights, no traffic cops, and as near as I could tell not a hint in anyone of even the slightest common sense. I had a motor skooter scratch my driver's door with his left handle bar, at the same time as a bicycle scrated the passenger side door and both of them were travelling in the opposite direction that I was. 



It was extreme, out of control, chaos; a living, moving, vehicular clusterfuck of epic proportions. I experienced more fear, loathing and unbridled road rage in that few hundred meters of driving than in all of the rest of my time behind the wheel in total. My throat was raw from shouting and my middle finger was almost locked into a permanent "bird". Needless to say, I was not the best of company during that brief journey that probably took about 15 minutes but seemed more like a month.



What reminded me of this was your comment about Noi always maintaining her "sang froid". Because during this episode of driving in what very clearly was a misplaced section of Hell, my Chinese companion, who had never driven a vehicle in her life, remained completely calm and totally at peace. She should have at the very least been pissed with me for my boorish behaviour. But she was acting as if we were on a quiet stroll on a secluded beach, as opposed to the reality that we were facing death at every moment and every turn.



All of which led me to believe I had come across an angel. Someone who was soft, and gentle and admirably even tempered. Someone who would never be angry, or rude or even out of sorts. Perhaps when you get around to telling us about when the real Noi came out into the open, I'll take the time to describe what a shock I was going to suffer at the hands of my Chinese Flower.


#2017-10-18 14:44:10 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

This is another blog that takes me back. When I first went to China, about 6 months in as best as I can recall now, my first Chinese love (as she then was) and I took a trip to Thailand for 10 days. We landed in Bangkok, but grabbed a rental car at the airport, and started a road trip to Koh Samui. Relative to your trek to the far south, ours was a pretty short jaunt, and probably wasn't much more than the first leg of your trip, if even that.

But it was a full day of driving, and the first few hundred meters of it was the worst few hundred meters of driving I have ever encountered. And I do not say that lightly. I have driven well over a million miles in my life, through incredibly rough terrain of Northern Alberta and the far north of Canada where the big rivers were crossed by little ferries in the summer and on ice bridges in the winter. I've driven backroads of the Canadian Rockies that were so narrow, and so high up that it seemed as if you were bound to slip off of them and fall forever. I've driven hundreds of miles in snow blizzards that allowed you to see a few short feet in front of your vehicle.

But nothing prepared me for the few hundred meters from the car rental lot behind the Bangkok airport to the first on ramp to the highway.  That short distance of space, that was not really a road, but just a roughly 50 meters wide paved space of vehicular pandemonium. There were vehicles of every possible kind, from huge trucks and buses, to RVs and SUVs and Vans, to cars like our rental, to motorcycles, to 3 wheeled tuktuks, to bicycles, to guys pulling carts with living passengers, and in amongst all this traffic, hundreds of pedestrians skittering about in all directions.

All moving without regards to who might have the right of way, with no lines on the pavement whatsoever, no traffic signs, no signal lights, no traffic cops, and as near as I could tell not a hint in anyone of even the slightest common sense. I had a motor skooter scratch my driver's door with his left handle bar, at the same time as a bicycle scrated the passenger side door and both of them were travelling in the opposite direction that I was. 

It was extreme, out of control, chaos; a living, moving, vehicular clusterfuck of epic proportions. I experienced more fear, loathing and unbridled road rage in that few hundred meters of driving than in all of the rest of my time behind the wheel in total. My throat was raw from shouting and my middle finger was almost locked into a permanent "bird". Needless to say, I was not the best of company during that brief journey that probably took about 15 minutes but seemed more like a month.

What reminded me of this was your comment about Noi always maintaining her "sang froid". Because during this episode of driving in what very clearly was a misplaced section of Hell, my Chinese companion, who had never driven a vehicle in her life, remained completely calm and totally at peace. She should have at the very least been pissed with me for my boorish behaviour. But she was acting as if we were on a quiet stroll on a secluded beach, as opposed to the reality that we were facing death at every moment and every turn.

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