Well, I was not going to bother as I have always got by on my UK driving licence but because I fell in love with and felt compelled to buy a new Kawasaki Vulcan S 650cc motorbike the other day… I was told that the free 1 year fully Comprehensive insurance was only valid if I had a Thai driving licence or an International licence, I realised the easiest option was to get my Thai licence.
So here the amazing story begins… We go to the ministry of road or traffic or whatever and they tell us what we need to provide (documents)
Off we go to get a doctors medical certificate and copies of my passport, UK driving licence and Immigration letter to prove residence.
The Doctors medical
We go to a doctors clinic and speak to the receptionist, she starts filling in a form and asks to see my passport. Then she calls the doctor who appears from his office and he looks at me from his side of the receptionists counter, looks at the passport to confirm it really is me (I suppose). Then he puts his stethoscope in his ears and leans over the counter and places it on my chest…. I looked at him and said “Am I alive”? He laughed and just went back into his office. The receptionist said 30 Baht (Less that £1) and we walked out with the medical certificate… About 5 mins in total. I was in total disbelief as in the UK when I had to get my HGV medical every 5 years it cost £120 and took a good half an hour of tests etc.
This was fairly easy as it was just a case of showing reams of paper work that my wife Jiya had already accumulated for my one year visa, so after about 15 mins we had the official piece of paper showing my address and picture and about 10 documents signed Total cost 500 Baht.
Back to the Driving licence centre
We take our numbered ticket and wait in the que again. When called they start sifting through all the papers and then start discussing in Thai something about my visa… They don’t know if it should be 3 months or 1 year or whatever… This goes on for another 15 mins and phone calls are made and eventually to cut a long story short.. They decide I can get my driving licence with my 3 month visa today.
Driving test – in the same building
Go to room no 2… off I go and there is a mock up traffic light on the wall. Jiya is translating for me. I was expecting at the very least a basic driving test in the car park or whatever…. but no… the driving test is all conducted inside the building. I am told to say what colour the lights are when the girl changes the traffic lights with her switch. GREEN, RED, GREEN, ORANGE….. she looks at me….. OK YELLOW I said…. YES YELLOW and she laughs. Passed she said. Go to room no 1, we walk into the next room and there is a chair in the middle of the room. On the floor is a mock up accelerator and brake peddle (like in an automatic car) At the front of the room is a box with some green lights that go up and down (when the accelerator is pressed) . I am told to watch the lights and slowly press the peddle….. when I see the green lights going up to press the brake (like an emergency stop) OK …. I press the accelerator and the lights start going up… so I press the brake. The girl jumps up clapping and says yes yes very good Passed.
Now we take all the papers back to the 1st woman we saw with all the passed stamps etc. pay 310 baht for two licences – I wanted Car and Motorbike .
Go to room no 4 –
In room no 4 I have my picture taken while the girl is typing all my info into the computer and then within a few mins two official Thai plastic driving licences pop out of a machine behind her and she hands them to me.
So a lot of paperwork and running around and absolutely ridiculous medical and driving test but at least I am now legal on the road…
However, the crazy thing is there are loads of children that look to me to be about 8 or 9 yrs old racing around on honda waves and similar motorbikes with no licences and obviously under age… 100’s of crazy people driving the wrong way on the left in the motorcycle lane thinking it’s perfectly normal to drive like that.. 100’s without helmets and the police do absolutely nothing….. Unless of course it is car or motorbike tax checking day where they stop virtually all cars and bikes and if you don’t have your tax disc… 200 Baht fine (£5) … Same for helmets if it’s helmet day, you will get a fine of 200 B but once you pay and have your receipt… you can continue to drive around all day without a helmet. . If there are no police around in large groups stopping people, then you are free to ride around with no helmet, children, dogs cats or whatever you can load onto your motorbike and the police will not bother you at all.
JUST ANOTHER DAY IN AMAZING THAILAND