Heading out of Hat Yai the next morning after my unexpected night tour of downtown, I had an eventful bus ride to Krabi.
I was crammed into the back of a white minibus for the five hour drive. Since the bus was crowded and I had a middle seat, I could barely see outside the bus. There was a curtain over the left window with just a crack where I could see the road flashing by, and another gap between the heads in front to the windshield.
After few hours fat raindrops started pounding the roof of the van. The storm was over in ten minutes but ten minutes of rain here delivers the same volume of water as a week or two of Seattle drizzle. That rainstorm led to possibly the most shocking five minutes of my life.
After the storm I felt the van drift right to avoid something blocking our lane. I craned my neck to see through the gap in the curtain. Though the road outside was flashing by, every detail of the scene was shockingly clear. First a motorcycle on its side on the shoulder of the road, then a split second later a man lying face down on the pavement. There was no helmet on his head.
We continued driving. The van was silent for the next thirty seconds, then discussion broke out. I felt ashamed that we hadn’t stopped. There was probably nothing we could do for the man, but at least we could have directed traffic around the accident. I considered yelling up to the driver to stop, but I did not. I have seen a culture throughout Asia of avoiding involvement with accidents for fear of being, at best, entangled with corrupt police and legal systems and at worst, outright blamed for the accident. But this was my first time experiencing the decision first hand. Someone in the van had at least called the police.
I don’t know for sure what happened to the man, but we were driving on a big highway with fast traffic. Face down, no helmet, no movement; not much cause for hope.
Just minutes later, emotions were still high in the van when I saw a dump truck change from the left to the right lane about two hundred meters in front of our minivan. This was one of those giant dump trucks that has an extra trailer hitched behind, and both truck beds were piled high with giant rocks. The truck moved to the right lane, but it didn’t stop. Through the gap in heads up front, I watched as the truck went into a slide, crossing both lanes of oncoming traffic and sliding further across a grassy clearing beside the road before slamming into the palm trees. The impact caused several big trees to snap and fall down over top of the truck towards the road.
I’m grateful that our minivan escaped unscathed from the rainstorm carnage, but we had problems of our own before reaching Krabi. Check out what happened to our left rear tire a bit further down the road.