A Bridge Too Far

Udon ThaniThe journey from our village home to the city of Udon Thani is 65 kilometres, just over one hours drive and I know every bump and turn along the way. I’ll admit that travelling in a car as a passenger sends me to sleep and it’s the potholes and craters that wake me at different stages of the route. It’s rare I stay awake the whole journey but myself and Wonderful Wi have made the trip that many times I think I could walk the roads blindfold.

These days my eyesight is not too good and I should wear glasses all the time but me being me I put them on as and when required. In the car they are nearly always in the glove compartment as I much prefer to wear shades.

Udon Thani kilometre markerLast month we were travelling to Udon Thani and having negotiated 45 kilometres of country road we turned on to the Nong Khai to Udon Thani highway. The road is straight, a good standard and leads you into the city. This particular day was on my recent holiday to Thailand and was the first occasion we had travelled into Udon.

As I looked ahead of me I saw something strange spanning the road, a thatched bridge with a railed walkway running across it. Where the bloody hell had that come from, it wasn’t there before. Udon Thani has its strange sky high kilometre marker (left photo), perhaps the same architect had been on the lao khao in his office once again.

Udon ThaniAs we got nearer to the bridge things started to look a little clearer and I thought about putting on my glasses to settle the issue once and for all. Was it a bridge or not, yeah it’s a bridge but a monstrosity at that. I looked again, squinted more like. I took off my sunglasses and with my nose squashed against the windscreen thought to myself…the walkway looks a little low, we won’t get under that. I had visions of an architect’s office full of 100 Pipers, Sangsom and lao khao…Wilai didn’t seem disturbed.

I reached inside the glove compartment, took out my glasses and put them on. I needed a clearer view of this thing. It was definitely a bridge and we would probably get under but something didn’t look quite right. I asked Wi to close the gap a little on the truck in front of us, I wanted a photo. Foot down the young one obliged.

Good eyesight even if it is through eyeglasses really is a wonderful thing.

Udon Thani


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

9 Responses

  1. malcolm says:

    Martyn, I think I hit the nail on the head when I said “imagination”, and you really had it streched this time, still you made me take a second look to see what you were looking at and finally ,I too saw a bridge. I ask my son one time “Rich why don’t you wear your glasses all the time ?” his reply was (which is just like yours) ” Oh I only wear them when I want to see”.Great post and glad to see you are back at work and writing funny stuff to pass the time till you are here in the LOS again. and don’t worry , besides missing Wili you haven’t missed to much , IT’S BEEN RAINING CATS AND DOG EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK . take care.
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..REMODELING IS FUN( SOMETIMES) =-.

  2. Talen says:

    Great read Martyn. As someone else that is visually challenged I know exactly where you are coming from. The second picture of the truck really makes it look like a huge thatched bridge is spanning the road and if I didn’t have my glasses on that would have freaked me out for sure.

    It looks like it was a particularly nasty day that coupled with it’s size and wind grabbing abilities I’m surprised it stayed on the truck.

    It never ceases to amaze me the manner of things you can see being transported by truck or motorcycle in Thailand without problems. It never seems to phase the police though as it’s just another day in Thailand.
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Bangkok’s Hidden Treasure, Pak Klong Talat =-.

  3. Hoo Don says:

    Malcolm thanks for the ‘imagination’ bit in your post I took it as quite a compliment. As far as raining cats and dogs goes I see my old stamping ground Pattaya has been hit by floods. The glasses, I should wear them all the time but in Thailand you’ve just got to put the old sunglasses on and try and look the part although I fail by some way on that one.

    Talen having to need glasses which came about 5 or 6 years back is one of the things that has most disappointed me in life. It’s a sign of age and before that I really did have excellent eyesight but it went all of a sudden. The things you see being transported around in Thailand is amazing….A good few years back I saw a small lorry transporting two public telephone boxes tied onto its open back. It was raining like hell and in both glassed doored boxes was someone sheltering from the lashing rain. I wish I’d had a camera way back then.

  4. Catherine says:

    An absolutely hilarious post Martyn. I laughed through it in part because I’ve done similar before.

    And I keep my glasses on when I’m outside as the lens gets lovely and dark when I’m in the sunlight.

    Thailand transport gets crazy creative and it is part of the fun of doing a road trip anywhere. But unlike you, I have not been successful at taking snaps of the happenings.

  5. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I made a big effort last trip to take more photos and was always clicking away. My two week trip yielded just short of 1000 pictures and some will bear posts. I’m pretty bad without my glasses but I just don’t like wearing them all the time whereas I really should in the village because there’s all sorts of things crawling about. Touchwood.

  6. Siam.Rick says:

    Ha! One pair of glasses? Martyn, you’re just a junior. I have four: computer screen glasses for work, computer screen glasses for home (different script), bifocals and my main ones, for distance (I’m short-sighted). I wear three of the four every day at some point. The bifocals I rarely need, although I really should have them for work.

    Nothing amuses a Thai store clerk more than when they see the farang (who looks like me) flipping my glasses from nose to forehead while shopping. They have laughed and made fun of me by miming the flipping motion. Seriously. Don’t worry, I’m not easily offended.

    Anyway, a very funny story, Martyn.
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Toronto Asian film festival only glow in grey November =-.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Rick I did actually buy the glasses in Thailand on my previous trip, two pairs in fact. I use one pair at work at my snazzy ones I use at home and took to Thailand with me on this last trip. Being relatively new to wearing glasses there’s something I can’t figure out. When I look at someone with my glasses on their head looks massive but when I take them off it looks a more normal size, which is correct. I fear we are all walking about with massive heads which makes me wonder why they sell baseball caps so cheap but I don’t recall seeing massive heads in my pre goggles days. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Siam.Rick says:

    Hmmm, that’s odd, re head sizes. Are you far-sighted (need glasses to read)? Or near sighted (need glasses to see at long distance). I think the latter, eh?

    I think that you’re just getting used to seeing with correct vision now after maybe years (?) without proper vision?

    However, I would urge you invest a few more baht. Go to an optical shop different from the one you bought your glasses at. (Maybe at home in the UK?) Ask them to test your eyes for the correction then have them look at the lenses to see what you were given. They will put one lens in a desktop machine and tell exactly what the correction is. If they discover it’s wrong, then you’ll need to get new lenses made.
    .-= Siam.Rick´s last blog ..Toronto Asian film festival only glow in grey November =-.

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Rick I need glasses for both and I am meant to wear them all the time but I don’t like keeping them on for too long. I had the proper eye test in Thailand with some technical machine and I’m quite happy with the results. I think you’re probably right about my eyes getting used to seeing correct vision and accept that there are a lot of big heads about.

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