Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hellish Job #437: Bangkok Bus Driver


Traffic in Bangkok, Thailand used to be the stuff of legend, with 3-hour jams a regular occurrence. Over the years, Thais grew accustomed to spending long stretches trapped in cars and buses, and accepted that as part of the price one had to pay for living in the big city.

But things have improved greatly in the Thai capital since the opening of two metropolitan mass transit systems: the BTS Skytrain and the Bangkok Subway. While not priced within the reach of all Bangkok citizens, these systems have managed to lessen the load on the city's bus system, to the point where riding the bus in Bangkok doesn't resemble a trip to Hell as closely as it used to.

Still, Bangkok bus drivers -- especially ones on non-air conditioned routes -- have one of toughest jobs on Earth. The traffic jams haven't gone away. And it's still hot as hell most of the year, and there is still a rainy season during which floodwaters can reach the windows of city buses. So when I see a bus driver like the guy pictured here, I really wonder what's going through his mind. Probably something along the lines of getting off work and retiring to a dark, air conditioned room -- and a refrigerator full of beer.

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