I’ve never had so much fun driving in a foreign country

Ben, walking towards the Suzuki Caribian "Safari-like adventure-mobile" (with one of its headlights burnt out) in a parking lot, wearing the "traditional" and stereotypical Thailand clothing, holding a collapsible water bottle in his right hand and a holding on his F-STOP Loka backpack which is slung over his left shoulder with one strap. Kinda looking epic (which was the idea haha).

Driving a right-hand drive stick-shift safari truck on the wrong side of the road in HEAVY traffic and then down the back roads of Thailand with one panic-inducing flickering headlight is probably one of my favourite memories there… even though it lasted one evening.

It was SO MUCH CHAOTIC FUN!! I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time 😂

Okay, okay, okay so the day started off with us scrambling to find food at a local restaurant, where we got a pretty normal egg stir-fry for breakfast. But not before dressing up in all the newly acquired Thai clothing! #STYLEPOINTS!

a normal egg stir-fry in an ornately decorated bowl which is breakfast from a local restaurant in Chiang Mai Thailand
a normal egg stir-fry in an ornately decorated bowl which is breakfast from a local restaurant in Chiang Mai Thailand. Pretty sure we went to one of the most foreigner-friendly parts of town (which is definitely the North East corner of the Old City of Chiang Mai).
A mirror selfie in an Airbnb hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand with all the touristy clothing on that you would expect a tourist to be wearing after a few days there
A mirror selfie in an Airbnb hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand with all the touristy clothing on that you would expect a tourist to be wearing after a few days there. Fun Fact: the locals don’t wear this sort of stuff for the most part. I don’t know why these are classified as “stereotypical Thailand Apparel”… I’ll have to look into that!

After that, we scouted out a rental place and asked for the cheapest car they had… So, I ended up on the back of a motorbike in a back alley being shown an SUV that looks like a safari truck.

a selfie of Ben from the back of a motorbike while going through a back alley in Chiang Mai, Thailand. this is the first time that I had ever been on a motorbike in my life
This this is the first time that I had ever been on a motorbike in my life… and we ended up going less than a kilometer. I had way too much fun because we peeled through back alleyways to get where we needed to go!
The front side of a modified 2nd Generation Suzuki Jimny (aka a Chevrolet Samurai or Suzuki Caribian) found in a back alley of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
My auto-nerd friend, Matt, figured out that this is probably a modified 2nd Generation Suzuki Jimny (aka a Chevrolet Samurai), but ACTUALLY named the Suzuki Caribian for exports to Thailand.
The back side of a modified 2nd Generation Suzuki Jimny (aka a Chevrolet Samurai or Suzuki Caribian) found in a back alley of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
According to the Wikipedia Page, this was actually a Suzuki Caribian (Thailand) “The SJ-Series received a bigger engine and was lengthened and widened for export purposes, where it was sold with a multitude of names: Suzuki SJ410/413, Suzuki Samurai, Suzuki Sierra, Suzuki Potohar (Pakistan), Suzuki Caribian (Thailand), Suzuki Katana (Indonesia), Chevrolet Samurai, Holden Drover (Australia) and Maruti Gypsy (India).” I found that interesting!

Of course we rented it for 800 Baht… but then realized that fuel still costs a ton in Thailand (about 800 Baht to fill), negating our savings that we got on the truck itself. Whoops!

Aside: if you’re interested in seeing how much 800 Thai Baht is in your own currency, check out this quick converter below (from xe.com which also has an app for seemingly all devices that I used throughout my entire month in Thailand): 


This was the contract that we had to sign for the car, if you’re interested (press on it for the full high-quality version):

Mr. Mechanic Motorbike Rental Service (in Chiang Mai, Thailand) Customer Contract that you need to sign before using their vehicles
This is the Mr. Mechanic Motorbike Rental Service contact, which the one person in your party that is taking responsibility for everything needs to sign. They ended up drawing that the FUEL gauge was half full when it was actually near-empty.

Funny thing is, it was stick shift…

A really old, washed out and bleached Suzuki Official paper in a plastic pocket in the car, stating instructions for the gear's stick shift operation in the Thai language, with a visual diagram below those instructions.
So the gear shifts in right hand drive vehicles are not reversed at all, still going from gear 1 to 5 from left to right. Only the side changes… which made it waaaay easier to adjust to!
Dashboard and instrument cluster of the 2nd Generation Suzuki Jimny (aka a Chevrolet Samurai and Suzuki Caribian for exports to Thailand), showing the speedometer and odometer on the left of the cluster, engine temperature and fuel levels in the middle, and the RPMs (revolutions per minute) on the right of the cluster.
Dashboard and instrument cluster of the 2nd Generation. If you zoom in on the high-quality link, you can see the Caribian’s odometer is only at 83,1290 KM! But I betcha they took this thing for a ride or two on back roads from the condition of it!

So I had to switch from using my right hand to shift to using my left hand to shift and had to concentrate on staying on the left side of the road rather than the right side of the road… all in heavy crazy traffic, dodging motorbikes zooming past us in seemingly all different directions while Jess and Selena didn’t have seat belts in the backseat 😨

No one died and we had a lot of fun going to scenic locations and winding through the smallest of towns and roads with steep sides and ditches. We stalled once when I didn’t give enough gas to the truck as we went up our 100th hill in the boonies lmao.

Ben, standing and leaning against the Suzuki Caribian "Safari-like adventure-mobile" in a parking lot, wearing the "traditional" and stereotypical Thailand clothing.
All in all, driving this thing in Thailand was one of my fondest memories and I couldn’t get that silly grin off my face for most of the time… even when one of the headlights cut out and then the other one was flickering… Yep. FUN TIMES AND GOOD MEMORIES!
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Ben Durham

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