Know a shortcut?

Anybody who has never experienced a traffic jam in Bangkok has not truly experienced Bangkok and anybody who has been a regular driver in Bangkok traffic jams should be granted a special award for courage and patience under extreme pressure.
My route to and from work was pretty straightforward, on paper. I travelled straight down Petchburi Road to soi ekamai 63 to get to work. On the way back, I had to go down to Sukhumvit road and drive a full circle to to get home due to the one way traffic on Petchburi road. Without traffic, the journey to work would take twenty minutes. But I didn’t live in a Bangkok without traffic. I lived in a Bangkok that had loads of traffic. Going to work wasn’t too bad, it usually took 45 minutes to an hour, depending on what time I left home. Coming home was a nightmare. They were building the skytrain along Sukhumvit and it could take anywhere from an hour to 2 hours to get home. There was one night when I was stuck in traffic approaching Siam Square, my petrol refuel light was on, and I hadn’t moved more than 2 feet in 45 minutes. I could see the petrol station up ahead…it wasn’t terribly far away but I was so scared I broke down in tears.
One day, I complained to my coworker about driving in all the traffic and she asked me how I got home. She was truly shocked to find out that I travelled on the main roads all the way home. She couldn’t believe my ignorance and gave me the greatest gift I ever received in Bangkok…a shortcut.
By winding through a series of lanes between Sois 21 and 63 I could cut out a big chunk of the traffic jams. At first I was uncomfortable driving through such narrow lanes which were flanked by the high walls that surround the grounds of residences and condominiums in the area. But it wasn’t that difficult really. Mirrors were mounted at blind corners so you could see if there was traffic approaching and the gated entranceways to properties provided enough room for you to pull in if you had to make way for a car trying to pass from the other direction. There was still a lot of traffic in the short cut, but it flowed better than the main roads. Plus, because I had to weave around a lot it was a more interactive driving experience. It was also a good way to discover different places to eat and shop. But it was not good in rainy season. You never knew when the next turn would bring you into a flooded soi.

6 responses to “Know a shortcut?

  1. Yeah, the Bangkok nightmare, sounds familiar. I first saw shortcuts when taking the taxi from Samut Prakan to BKK, usually to the On Nut station. First I wasn’t sure whether the guy is just taking me for a ‘ride’ to roll up the meter or what, but later I appreciated the relatively short time it took get there this way, circumventing the lockdown.

    Nice blog, Nal, keep on drivin’. 😉

  2. The worst nightmare for me was to be stuck in a traffic with a poor stomach, returning sick from office. I devised a 1000 mental schemes how to influence my body!! Nothing seemed to help. And then I remembered a similar experience when I was a kid. My brother asked me to take a little spit and rub it on my navel and it will help. And once again, I did so, hidden from the sights of other drivers. An presto I was cured… till my journey home! this is a real life true story. LOL!

  3. And this is actually better than what it was in the early 1990’s !!! 😯

  4. I think it’s actually called the “Green Route” and has been used for over a decade, and is carefully labeled on the Bangkok Map by Nancy Chandler.

  5. Carl – it was about a decade ago that I was working in Bangok…

  6. There’s nothing like knowing your way around a city. I think using residential areas is dangerous for the kids and street dogs as there are no footpaths to escape the stupid weathly BENZ driving rulers of the road. Anyone agree?