I’m not sure what you think of when you think of transportation in Thailand. Believe me, the only elephants I see are ones used to attract tourists (you buy some food from the owner of the elephant and you can feed it; they wander around certain areas in the evening but not everyday), or ones marching in parades. So no – I don’t get around on an elephant.
I mostly use a bicycle that I bought last August, when I first arrived. It has served me well – only 2 flat tires, some brake issues and the basket kept threatening to fall off until I secured it with some plastic fasteners (not sure the technical name). But it’s got me to and from school, as well as several places around town. It only has one gear but that’s enough for Lopburi because this city doesn’t have any hills.
Below, you can see me discussing the price of a ride on a song thaew in Chiang Mai. I also use song thaews to get around in Lopburi. A song thaew is a pickup truck with two benches along the sides of the length of the truck. The ones in Chiang Mai are shorter than the ones in Lopburi – in Lopburi, even I can stand up straight in the middle aisle (most of the time at least). In Lopburi, the song thaews have set routes (all of the routes go near my neighbourhood so it’s very convenient) and cost 8 baht before 6pm and after 6pm it’ll be 9 baht. Chiang Mai also has song thaews that run on set routes but like this one in the picture, it’s more like a taxi, although they will also pick up other people along the way to your destination. In Chiang Mai, the prices can be much more expensive, which can be a huge frustration if you’re trying to get around town by yourself.
I have used the buses in Lopburi, but I’m not very familiar with their routes and I haven’t really needed to use them. They tend to hurtle down the streets and are driven by college-aged guys. Not that I’m trying to say anything negative about college-ageds guys… All in all they seem a little scary but the people are very friendly and helpful. The times that I have taken one, I’ve told them where I needed to get off and they let me know when we arrived. A woman (usually) goes up and down the aisle collecting the ‘baht’ in a metal coin case. When the buses approach a stop, one of the workers will get out and yell at everybody to tell them where this bus is going – usually this is the same person who hangs out the front door. You can catch or get off this type of bus at any bus stop but also at any point along the side of the road (I think – maybe they’ve just given me special treatment since I’m a farang).
Motorcycle taxis are helpful to have around, although they cost more than a song thaew ride. They generally drive very quickly as well and like to try to squeeze inbetween two vehicles – this is particularly nervewracking when you have long legs and you have to remember to keep them tucked in well enough, yet not really touch the man in front of you. They all wear special vests that have to do with what area they’re in and who their ‘boss’ is.