Early one evening a light rain had passed and the roads were a little wet. I loaded up the motorbike with what seemed like a months’ worth of laundry and donned my poncho. I headed to the laundromat just north of the Thapae gate in Chiang Mai. I arrived safely and park in front of the laundromat and remove my helmet and being to unload my laundry. As I am about hand my laundry to the attendant we hear a tiny squeal and then a light crash. A tiny Thai girl had just been cut off by a vehicle while merging on the outside of the moat. In the process she slammed on the front brake and dropped the nose to the ground.
I turned around just in time to see another vehicle narrowly miss her by inches. Instantly I drop my clothes and run into the road to stop traffic (not recommended by the way) and help her and her bike off the road. She’s shaken up, but other than a few scrapes and fender damage the girl and her bike are fine. We move over to the side of the road to collect our thoughts. I ask her if she’s fine to drive home and she says “yes” yet sticks around for about 20 minutes longer. She’s not really saying anything or showing discomfort. I think nothing of it, but she reluctantly leaves after it’s clear that it’s about to rain again. I retreat to pursue a cold Beer Lao and converse with my new found kitty friend.
Kitty and I enjoy each other’s company, but one thing still stuck out about that whole situation. Why did no one else stop or help? Why did she stick around so long in silence? There were others much closer than I. Vehicles slowed down and passed by as if it were just bad luck. An hour passes and my laundry and beer are almost finished so I head back to the laundromat. I decide to ask the attendant. “Why did no one in the vehicles in the lane she fell in, stop?” Not to mention the people right on the corner where it occurred. They were obviously closer and had a better opportunity to help. This is when she told me that in Thai culture (not law mind you) if someone offers help to someone in an accident situation it is implied that you’ll help them out financially as well. I wasn’t buying that and figured people were being selfish. I grab my undies and head home before Mica starts to worry.
Fast forward to a few days later and I’m still curious about the whole thing . So I ask a local business man and his wife about this. They confirm to a certain degree that not all situations are like that, but it can be implied. Interesting. My attention span allows me to forget most of this information until I return to work. While I’m on the ship, I recount my story to a coworker who has a Thai wife and has lived in Thailand for the last 10 years. He just laughs and says that sounds about right. Now my interest is piqued and it is time to turn to Google for results. This was the closest I could confirm officially .
Little things started to add up and make some sense. The people on the corner standing by watching. The cars still trying to go around us as I lifted the bike off her foot. The poor girl waiting around for what seemed like an eternity, maybe expecting a helping handful of baht.
I guess being a good Samaritan can end up costing you.
Now I would not advise on not helping someone in a situation like that, but be aware of motorbike accidents which you are involved in. Even if not your fault by law, you still may be asked to pay. Don’t take it personal.
That’s just Thailand.
Have you had a similar situation anywhere around the world? What did you do?