Taken for a ride

Holidays are something we look forward to every year, those few days away from the rat race or the dull existence that so many people have, time to cut loose, let the hair down and have some fun….. sounds very familiar yes?
Look we all do it, or have done it… and in the majority of cases why not? We all need that release for our sanity. Travel, try something new, maybe even learn something new. Thailand is still a very popular place for foreign visitors, they come in their millions, winging in their way from all corners of the globe for those 2 weeks in the sun.
The world is a much smaller place, air travel is relatively cheap and available to almost all of us, Thailand has a host of attractions, some good and others not so good, but its not for me to judge on our overseas visitors reasons to come here, if its available ( what ever it is ) people will come.
However…. excusing the few or is that many who push the boundaries a bit, okay its a given risk but take extra precautions. Enjoy what ever you do, though think about it with a level head, sure… sex, drugs and rock and roll, many of us have been there…. to be old and wise, I guess at times we are all young and a bit stupid too. Everything we do has a risk factor.
Sadly… something that should be just a bit of harmless fun is far from it. I mean taking a motorbike and zooming about. Thailand is not the place for the novice or inexperienced rider. All the factors and data say its one of the most dangerous things to do. The rules, regulations, factors of road use and abilities are different. Local rider skills variety from excellent to the 11 year old kid with his 6 mates sharing a clapped out old bike going to school, to Evil Knievel on his 600CC super bike, or some helmet less trolley cutting and weaving at 90kmh through stationary traffic, though we should not ignore the countless motorbike and sidecar mobile food stations and those that ride the pavements and go the wrong way along the road with no lights at night……. Its not a jungle out there its a bloody zoo.
I’ve taken a motorbike taxi and they have their place in society, an essential method of transport for millions, but most have nothing more than experience of daily riding, where in truth these knights of the road should have to extra abilities and take courses to improve their skills, they are earning a living by being responsible for a life of their passengers!
Horses for courses as they say, and the humble motorbike is an essential for millions, but sadly the accident figures speak volumes, being on a bike and coming into contact with anything, the odds are not favorable, the bigger the apposing obstacle the less chance you have walking away.
So when all the factors say,….. NO.. or DON’T DO IT, why do so many tourists take to the road totally unprepared. I will say for the experienced Thailand has some of the best road trips a biker can make, however experience is the key to survival. There is a RTA in everyone of us, we all generally have at least one in our life time. The factor is being able to walk away from them.
I’ll come back to tourists in a moment… however I am at continuous logger heads with my partner and her 14 year old son. Every day I bang on about using a helmet whilst riding, but unless the bloody thing is on the bike its often forgotten or ignored… no amount of nagging, grounding or even taking the mobile phone away has changed the attitude, so the net result has been… use shank’s pony and bloody walk… and the last resort is to sell the bike!!! Even out in the most quietest of places its a risk, maybe a lower and better calculated one, and I can’t deny its one of life’s pleasures riding a bike with no lid…… but in Bangkok and even moo bans and side roads its a no brainer.
Okay… tourists, I had the misfortune to encounter said idiots and that is being polite last weekend, 2 scooters with father and daughter on one and mother and son on another, both shot out without looking obviously out of control into a busy dual carriage way…. my misfortune, but certainly lucky for them…… anchoring up ( and thank god I drum in to my passengers to wear their car seat belts) I missed them, how and why I still don’t know, it was obviously not their time, but the bloody chaos on the road it was a miracle there was not a major accident. Its one of those moments where everything go’s into extra slow motion.
Livid, mad annoyed maybe a bit of an understatement, the feeling of road rage about to go off the scale and on “TILT” my partner understandably was less than amused and hell bet on letting them have not just both barrels but a full broadside from a Battleship… In these circumstances its best let a Thai lady have her say, allow her to let rip, bottling up that emotion is not healthy….. Anyway we pullover over next to the offenders on the side of the road, said partner in total meltdown for a few seconds ( I guess this is what Chernobyl was like when that when tits up)…. anyway my girl did her bit, then went and sat back in the car…..
Just looking into the eyes of those tourists, it was pointless me letting rip at them. If they not going to learn from that incident then they never will. Both motorbikes eerr scooters were totally unsuitable, getting 2 average Thais on a bike is one thing, a 7ft 6in (20st) man and his daughter on a scoobie is stupid enough, but a 43kg 5ft nothing wife and a dumpling of a son on the other was just off the scale stupid….. I was still shaking with stress when I just calmly advised that, walking was the best thing they could do, take the bikes back (without riding them) and thank their lucky stars they are still alive….. Thankfully they did and it was just around the corner…. I know I stayed and watch them do it.
Why… do people just lose the plot when they are away from home? Why the case of 50 weeks a year safety and security is paramount, and then 2 weeks in the sun and a case of frontal lobotomy appears. Thailand has the worlds most accidents on motorbikes, its improving… slowly and there is better awareness that helmets do actually save lives, not that the standard has improved much in skills, and the factor of spending 50 thb on a battery for a light is still not seen as an essential, but evolution is a very slow and painful progress at the best of times.
I can only say… if you don’t ride a bike regularly at home, don’t do it here, even if you do take extra care in the equipment provided, and take it easy…. very very easy. Travel insurance will not cover you riding in Thailand unless you are very experienced rider at home. The only way to reduce those statistics of tourist motorbike accidents is by not doing it.
About The Author
Volts: Alien, falang, foreigner, overseas guest in the seach of the lighter side of the Thai lifestyle… might not agree with what you say but will accept your right to say it. Age: Old enough to know better