I love getting out on a motorbike or moped to explore somewhere. It’s just so good to have your own wheels and not have to reply on public transport or taxis. But in places like Thailand, where adherence to road rules is somewhat flexible, it’s too easy to get a little over confident on your rented wheels.
Tonight, right after filling up the moped with fuel, a white guy (or Falang as they call them here) sped out of the gas station just in front of me. His speed didn’t escape my attention as he zoomed across the road and into the traffic, but it’s not unusual to see tourists tearing around Chiang Mao’s roads with a bit too much enthusiasm to get wherever they’re going.
Just a few minutes later I came across him again. This time he was sitting on the road next to his fallen bike. A couple of local guys were helping him up because he had just fallen off his moped in the busy night traffic as he whipped between cars in traffic.
I stopped to make sure he was okay. Thankfully he was pretty much fine. His side was all scratched up and his arms was bleeding quite a lot from a few cuts, but he was essentially fine. Nevertheless, someone must have called the police because within just a few minutes an Ambulance, a moto-medic, and the police all arrived.
There was a time when my mother was convinced I would meet an early death on a motorbike, and as such she banned me from getting one. For some reason I adhered to this ban for many years, but after riding around Vietnam and India on mopeds and motorbikes, I’ve come to learn that as fun as it is going fast, its not quite as much fun when you crash!
In warm places like Thailand, you never wear protective gear on motorbikes or mopeds, and much of the time I you don’t even have to wear a helmet. But the warm weather and flexible road rules are probably two of the main reasons why so many visitors come here and have accidents. (I did the same in 2012!)
I tend to go slow. I’ve come to realise that as much as I love the thrill of speed, I’m on a journey much of the time, and when you’re on a journey part of the magic is taking it slow in the understanding that the destination is only part of the story.
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