However, this issue of CURVES, an amazing four-stage tour through Thailand, changes things quite markedly for the first time. What you’re holding in your hands is the first Asian issue of CURVES. And this Asia, southeast Asia, Thailand is so profoundly different from any other destination we’ve covered so far that our origins suddenly became blatantly obvious – most of all, to ourselves. We are foreign observers in a world, the messages of which we can merely interpret, the rhythms of which cause us to stumble and that, for precisely this reason, has drawn us under its spell. The disruptive element of travel emerged on our tour of Thailand more forcefully than ever before. All preconceptions are shattered, all expectations questioned or exceeded. New things have to be experienced and absorbed. This reality forces itself upon you in a colourful, challenging and ecstatic rush. There is no comfortable or soft alternative.
Mental couch potatoes expecting from this life only as much as they are prepared to see don’t stand a chance here.
We covered hundreds and hundreds of miles on the roads of Thailand. In the process, however, it was not first and foremost Thailand we experience, but ourselves. In the debate with all that we have learned and all that we have come to expect, this unspeakably beautiful land with its gloriously relaxed, friendly people and its diverse, stunning landscape left us dumbfounded time and time again. We were told that northern Thailand had roads that would blow our European idea (there you have it again) of driving fun completely out of the water. We just didn’t believe them. You’ve guessed it: our small, inner, unbelieving and almost amused response to that was, “What can possibly be better than the roads of Tuscany and Sicily, the Alpine passes, the routes through the Scottish Highlands?” And then we experienced it for ourselves.
There were moments, having swept along for hours on scrupulously smooth road surfaces with perfectly cambered bends and well-nigh absurd progression, when we simply couldn’t go on. Arms and hands were on the brink of shivering submission, while the head just couldn’t take yet another bend. The belly rebelled, g-forces began to torture the neck muscles, eyes stopped focusing properly. Hardcore curves, Heavy metal curves. Staccato curves. Voracious beasts in an ethereal, twisting landscape full of allure and unearthly beauty. And then came the flow. A driver full of energy and joy, hungry and simultaneously at one with themselves. Let’s be absolutely clear: This kind of thing only exists in Europe in considerably smaller portions or on closed tracks.
Then came the stages through the south of Thailand, and with them the sun, sand and pleasant oblivion of beach life. Sometimes, we close our eyes and still see the waving palms, turquoise sea and white sand in front of us. With the car, you are only ever a guest in this world, but passing through the strip of land between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea is nevertheless an illuminating venture. Not least because there is plenty of Thailand’s delicious food to be found there, as well as a deep, rich and, for us, electrifyingly alien culture. We not only had to ask for directions, but also learn to listen and to watch. In Thailand, our familiar Alpine world was simply very far away. We also had to readjust our usual way of looking at things. Again and again, the old CURVES perspective seemed distorted, one-sided and sometimes clumsy – but, to a certain extent, that’s what makes us who we are. For our Thai readers, perhaps we should add a little footnote here, delivered with a deep bow: Everything you see and read here is through our lens, our focal length, our language. We would love to know how much we have captured the reality of Thailand.
We were guests in Thailand – totally naïve and childlike – blissful in wide-eyed discovery, blissful in Soulful Driving. At the end of this journey, we take something away with us: the friendships we made in Thailand. Despite our differences, there is only one conclusion – we are one. It doesn’t matter how far you drive in this world – the human spirit is the something that exists between A and A. And that’s why we are overjoyed that, following the time we spent in Thailand, Thailand is now our guest in CURVES; that gentle, friendly, unfathomable Thailand has come to CURVES. Come on in. What an honour.