Off Topic: A Remarkable Motorcycle Helmet

2012 07 02 moto helmet

File under: The centrality of sanook (สนุก), or fun, in Thai culture.

I saw this motorcycle taxi driver’s helmet yesterday and simply had to snap a pic.

The guy had quite a menagerie of figures hitching a ride on top of the old brain bucket, from aliens to crocodiles to what looks like a kung fu-practicing lion.

Fantastic.

More on Bangkok’s Tweeting Motorcycle Taxi Driver

A quick follow up on my post yesterday highlighting the BBC video report on Dejchat Phuangket, a Bangkok motorcycle taxi driver and social media maven.

Thanks to Byron at Coconuts Bangkok for getting in touch to say that his site has also run items on Khun Dejchat.

The first post provides an overview of Dejchat’s work following the Valentine’s Day explosions.

The second is a longer interview with Dejchat. One interesting tidbit on offer here: The story points out that he created an interesting Web site about his hometown in Sisaket province. (Warning: The site employs auto-loading luk thung music!)

BBC Story on Bangkok’s Tweeting Motorcycle Taxi Driver

2012 03 19 motorcycle taxi twitterer

The BBC has a video report today on Dejchat Phuangket, a Bangkok motorcycle taxi driver who has become renowned for his blogging and Tweeting:

His mode of transport is one of Bangkok’s most basic – the motorbike. But it is Dejchat Phuangket’s command of cutting edge technology that has turned him into Thailand’s most famous taxi driver.

For two years, Dejchat tweeted and blogged about his daily life.

Whether it be the contents of his lunch or the state of the traffic, his wry observations and a steady stream of photos kept his small band of loyal followers amused.

Then on Valentines Day the news came to Dejchat’s part of central Bangkok.

An explosion partially destroyed a house being rented by a group of Iranians.

As the men fled the damaged building they threw explosives at a taxi and one of the men had his legs blown off. Almost immediately the blasts were linked to attempted attacks the day before on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India.

As news of the explosions began to circulate, Dejchat was already on the scene.

“A foreigner was carrying a bag and an explosion happened,” he tweeted under his username motorcyrubjang. “He lost his legs but is still alive at Sukhumvit 71.”

What’s more, Dejchat — who you can follow at @motorcyrubjang — may just have the coolest Twitter profile page photo montage ever. (Click through to see it.)

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: BBC.)

Economist on Thai politics and motorcycle taxi drivers

Economist:

Enter the orange shirts

In A city of clogged streets, motorbike taxis are the essential lubricant. They weave through rush-hour traffic, mount pavements and roar down the labyrinthine alleys known as soi. They lurk in gangs on street corners, waiting to carry people or goods, or run errands. Some 200,000 drivers sporting orange jackets are reckoned to ply their trade in Bangkok.

The motorbike drivers are mad about politics, which in Thailand is colour-coded. The drivers are overwhelmingly “red” and loyal to a former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Most hail from the pro-Thaksin north-east, and were in the thick of the action during last year’s rowdy red-shirt rallies. Motorbikes were the red-shirt cavalry, keeping tabs on the movements of state troops, who ended the protests with the loss of 91 lives.

This is an election year, and every vote counts. So the prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, no red shirt he, has singled out motorbike taxis for attention under a new, pro-poor programme called the People’s Agenda. Along with millions of other informal workers, motorbike drivers will be eligible for social security, loans from state banks and other benefits. To drive the point home, Mr Abhisit posed with an orange-clad motorbike driver at the launch of the programme, which he described as a “New Year’s gift” to Thai people.

Bangkok Post: “Democrats give motorcyclists a hearing”

Today’s Bangkok Post: Democrats give motorcyclists a hearing:

The Democrat Party will hold a forum to gather the opinions of motorcycle taxi drivers, many of whom are Puea Thai Party supporters, as polls indicate the opposition party is enjoying a slight edge in popular support.

Related: The politics of motorcycle taxis.