It was only a matter of time - I got into my first motorbike accident on Saturday night. It wasn't actually the worst part of the night, but it's worth a mention here.
I was on the back of a motorbike taxi going through old town. We went through an intersection - I have no idea if there was a stop sign or who had right of way... those things just don't quite mean anything here. Anyway as we were going through I looked to my right and saw a woman on a motorbike, with her toddler sitting in front of her. If you've been in an accident you know that slow motion feeling you get when you see it happening but you don't really think it's going to happen until it does. CRASH - she crashed right into my foot!*
Neither of us were going particularly fast and it's motorbikes - not cars - so there's not nearly the same force of impact. Nevertheless, her little girl slid off her lap and kind of half fell and started crying. All the bags the mom was carrying on her handlebars spilled everywhere.** My taxi driver stopped, and I hopped off immediately. He ran to help the lady, who had at this point set her daughter down on the ground properly. The little girl starts wandering around in the street while the mom was straightening up her bike (it had only tipped off balance, not fallen over completely) and telling her daughter "mai bpen lai, mai bpen lai" (nevermind / don't worry). The taxi guy picked up her bags and got her sorted again. The mom gathered up her little girl and was on her way again.
The whole thing happened so fast I just kinda stood there dumbfounded for a minute. None of the traffic on the streets stopped - cars and motorbikes just kinda swerved around us and the little girl. It was surreal, absolutely surreal. Once the mom & daughter were off, the taxi guy got back on his motorbike, as did I and we were off as well. He said repeatedly "Maaa lao" (came fast) in refrence to the other driver, and was still a bit shaken up when he dropped me off. But like, that's that. No checking for damage or taking pictures, no exchanging insurance information. And really, no one was injured. My foot hurt, but it's fine. It was so bizarre.
I think there's something to be said for driving smaller vehicles. I've been in a slow speed crash in a car that gave me whiplash and did some fairly expensive damage to the car. This was probably about the same speed, or possibly faster but because there's not so much weight going into it, there was less damage. It's just not as dangerous. Americans tend to think bigger cars are safer... but I just don't think that's true. Safer for the person in the bigger car maybe, but then before you know it we're all driving tanks down the street. Something to think about.
TAG: Code Fish Sauce.... I'm still having stomach troubles, but my student this morning canceled so I got to come back home to rest.
* Had I been wearing a skirt, both feet would have been on the other side of the bike, one vote in favor of riding side saddle.
** Bags are nothing - I saw a motorbike earlier that night with three people on it - one of whom was carrying a 27" TV.