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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Local colour: painted buses and other vehicles

I love this spray-painted bus with its lurid colors. We're parked behind it in the belly of a car ferry on our way from Koh Samui to Phuket, a day's drive made longer by rain. As we sit in our little hire car waiting for the ferry to dock, extended Thai families start piling into their Hilux's, young guys start revving their motorbikes, and I study the map, figuring out the route we need to follow, the directions we need to take. We watch a couple of young backpackers struggling with their hefty loads, searching for a route between the vehicles to their bus at the front of the boat. They give up and retreat back upstairs, and on their way past they look at us in our car and smile. A tad envious I detect. Well, what a way to be travelling in the rain, poor things. It's moments like these that I'm glad that travel writing is our job, that we can afford to hire a car to travel through these countries, and that it doesn't really matter if it rains - we're not here to lie on a beach, this is work, after all. I wonder if anyone has written about Thailand's zany painted buses and trucks. What is it that makes them so amusingly attractive to my foreigner's eyes? Certainly their exoticism. Their kitsch appeal. But would I notice them in Australia? No, I'd probably think the paint job hideous. In Dubai, the Pakistani and Afghani guys also paint their trucks in vivid colours and hang kooky accessories to their rear vision mirrors. I've heard that in Pakistan there is a festival of painted trucks, the Painted Truck Caravan from Karachi to Kabul. I wonder if travellers actually plan a trip to Pakistan around the event. Could painted trucks inspire travel?

3 comments:

ASD said...

I love that kind of thing anywhere I travel. It becomes a bit of a scavanger hunt wherever I go. I've even started a flickr collection called "urban landscape" of all the fun [spray] painted things I find.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/anne_ditty/collections/72157602943197033/

Terry said...

Hey Anne, great photos -- love the Berlin ones. It's funny how 'Che' ends up being stenciled all around the world!

Terry

Xander said...

As an added treat of having our apartment windows looking out on Sukhumvit Road, we get to see a parade of oddly painted buses. The colors definitely keep me inspired. -X