You’re walking down the road — obviously, because sidewalks just take up space — and you hear a honk. Startled, you turn to look at the person honking at you. What is it the honker is trying to say? Based on our experiences on motorcycles, walking and in cars in ASEAN nations, here are our top 20 honk translations. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it might help a little.
1. Please watch out, I am going to drive around you.
2. Nice legs.
3. GET OUT OF THE ROAD.
4. Look, a tourist!
5. I may or may not be passing you in the next few meters, so just beware.
6. Don’t back out, I am driving on this road. This is MY road.
7. Don’t turn, I am going straight. This is MY road.
8. You are going too slow.
9. You just cut me off, you *bleeping bleeper* (insert local curse).
10. Get over you maniac, you are in my lane and I need more space.
11. I am going around a blind corner and want you to know I’m coming.
12. Hey man, nice to see you again!
13. Make up your mind and drive like a “normal” (read: local) person.
14. Want a ride? Get in, cheap cheap!!
15. Dear animal, please vacate the road or suffer the consequences.
16. Dear water buffalo, please don’t hurt me.
17. Hey food vendor, bring me soup in a plastic bag!
18. I have a hand cramp and need to honk to release the tension.
19. Congratulations on your wedding! Now stop dancing and move to the side of the road.
And finally, if you are in Laos…
20. Something horrible is happening or about to happen. They don’t honk in Laos. Enjoy the silence.