Thursday, February 21, 2008

Getting Around

Having spent considerable time traveling and living around the globe, I've had a chance to experience many types of public and private modes of transportation. These are only a small part of the total transportation picture as I've seen it. I'll likely post more at a later date. So, here goes......


...a "tuk-tuk" in Thailand, named for the sound of the 2-cycle engine at idle.....


....a similar method in the Philippines made by hooking a sidecar to a small motorcycle, usually 225cc or less.....


.....the same style in the Philippine countryside, probably a family outing.....


....infamous 'Rabbit Bus' used around Manila, stops for very few things and is a genuine 'white knuckle' riding experience......


....a 'Rabbit' in a more rural setting, much faster and less stopping.....


.....one of the famous Philippine 'Victory Liner' buses in a city environment....


.....one in a more rural setting, where the approach is 1st noticed by the loud exhaust, which is often barely muffled......


......and one in a very rural setting. These are the backbone of the Phillipine inter-city transit system, and they might........


.......slow and possibly swerve for a farm cart, and might even stop.....


........for a kid on a 'carabao' who wanders onto the roadway.

And then there's a whole world of adventure awaiting travelers in Japan who use buses, taxis, or private vehicles to navigate streets......


....such as this (note the little 'covers' on the sides of the road, these are usually just laying there and cover drainage ditches. They often come loose and unwary drivers can end up with 'square wheels' if they go in a ditch at night)......


.......or this........


.......or this.....


....or even an alley-like lane such as this. The simple rule seems to be that if you can get down it and it's not marked 'do not enter', it's a road. If you can drive down it and it's not marked 'one way', you can drive either way, no matter how narrow. This causes many problems, such as blind corners. These are overcome by using these devices.......


.....'intersection mirrors' placed at......


....almost every blind intersection. A major rule driving in Japan is "if the car ahead of you pulls to the right, do not pass on the left as it may be swinging wider to turn down the tiny street ahead on the left." There are only a few dangerous maneuvers the drivers there make and, since they all get trained exactly the same, they generally all do the same few dangerous things. If you learn these few oddities of driving there it's really safe and easy. There is one area I always had trouble with though. My employers invariably gave me a small van to use and ......



....always had mirrors such as this.....




......or these installed as the transportation folks in the USA deemed them necessary for 'safety' on the Japanese streets. I don't think any of them really had experienced driving in Japan first-hand. I first learned of the hazards during my 'orientation' trip as a VERY young man. Anxious to try my newly learned language I attempted to give a Taxi driver on Okinawa the destination we sought. Not knowing the local dialect, this was proven to be unsuccessful when the driver turned to me and in a NYC/Japanese accent asked, "Where you wanna go, Mac?". After I told him and mentioned to that we were in a bit of a rush (big mistake!!!) the former NYC cabbie commenced to show us how to make time down the back streets of the city. This resulted in us reaching our destination with time to spare, along with the loss of the mirrors on both sides of the taxi on the narrow streets. That this was common was confirmed by the driver laughing and saying he had plenty of spares.
After taking up residence there I learned, thanks to the van mirrors, just how common it was. Concrete poles inching into the narrow streets take a toll when there's approaching traffic to deal with. The transportation guys, who were Japanese, finally convinced my employers to make an exception for me after many, many, many mirror 'removals' by yours truly. At first they got to......


....try this style, which merely reduced the losses until, finally, they....


....convinced them that this would be better. They told me later that they convinced the 'stateside' safety guys that it'd be just as safe to use them on my van and far cheaper to repair occasional body damage than to replace the mirrors constantly. They were correct. Not once did I ever hit another pole, wall, tree, bus, or did I ever have an accident there. Until next time, take care and drive safely.

8 comments:

tshsmom said...

Those blind corner mirrors would come in handy on a lot of our streets too!

Hahn at Home said...

I loved those mirrors on the corners in Germany. Some of the lanes in the old part of the city were barely wide enough for my little car to get through.

Mies said...

I got Claustrophobia just looking at those photos. If my F150 won't fit, mirrors and all, I better not try it...Although, a certain person, that will remain nameless, can't back into our driveway without knocking the gate off and bending the fence post...Guess who that was Mike? It was his first time out since his operation alone....Thanks for info and photos. When will part 2 come out???? ...L

Cherie said...

How fascinating! Thanks, Mike, for yet another education.

When I get to driving again I promise to be safe. ;)

Deanna said...

I've hoped to go to Japan (my son has taken some Japanese), but I hope not to have to drive there! We hosted Japanese students here a couple of times and took them places on wide highways.

You get a lot of information and good pictures into one post.

patricia said...

You got some pics of neat transportation there, Mike. Wot! No side mirrors for Water Buffalo? Hehehehehe.
Enjoyed the blog.

Kimono Karen said...

I live for those round mirrors. Driving in my little neighborhood with be absolutely disastrous without them! And those tuk-tuks in Thailand... that is a bit risky for your life too. But fun!

George said...

I remember delivering a set of CAT tracks to an irrigation project west of town several years ago. At the job site I asked where the tractor was & was pointed to a goat trail down a very steep hill. At one point the road tilted toward the only tree in miles. As I got next to the tree the truck slid sideways & the mirror was gone. Coming back up the hill, you guessed it, I got the mirror on the other side. I could see the base of the tree then & the pile of mirrors stacked up at its base. Also the gate wasn't my fault, it jumped out behind my truck.