Thanks to this handy guide, you can now tell where you are in South-East Asia, just by looking at the vehicles.
The first thing to do is to establish which country you’re in. This is easy enough: just wait a couple of minutes or less, and you will see a white Toyota Landcruiser (or Nissan Patrol).
- The Landcruiser has “UXO Lao”, or “Mines Advisory Group” painted on the driver’s door. There are four 100kg sacks of rice in the back.
- The Landcruiser has “Family Health International”, “Oxfam”, or “CARE” painted on the driver’s door. It has an exhaust pipe rigged for deep-wading and an antenna mount on the front fender.
- The Landcruiser has the name of a hotel painted on the driver’s door. There are four elderly tourists in the back.
- The LandCruiser is black, and has nothing painted on the door because it is privately owned. It has tinted windows and chromed bull-bars.
In a similar way, you can tell which city you’re in from the first motorcycle you see.
- Vientiane, Laos
- There are four people on the motorcycle, representing at least three generations of the same family, plus a load of green bamboo.
- Bangkok, Thailand
- There are two people on the motorcycle. The driver wears an orange fluorescent jacket with a number on the back; the passenger is a young woman who is sitting nonchalantly side-saddle, fixing her lipstick or combing her hair while the bike weaves in and out of the lanes of grid-locked traffic. Despite the blazing heat and the clouds of choking pollution, she looks immaculate.
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia
- There is one person on the motorcycle. He is a teenage boy wearing a baseball cap, and he is driving very slowly about a foot away from you, shouting
“Mister! Moto-taxi! You go Royal Palace, Killing Field, OK?”Sometimes there will be a second motorcycle taxi driver doing the same thing on the other side of you.
- Hanoi, Vietnam
- The motorcycle has just run over your foot.