Yesterday I gained my motorbike Ps, an epic journeying that began amongst a baptism of terminate inward northern Thailand a yr ago. Yes, I was 1 of those farang idiots that succumbed to the madness that is vacation scooter hire, a determination that was ill-informed as well as dangerous. And spell I survived the experience, this is a cautionary tale.
Why did I create it? Because I had to. There was exactly no other means to acquire around. I was staying inward a pocket-size hamlet inward northern Thailand where world carry is non-existent, as well as I needed to acquire to as well as from my hotel to diverse sights. So after a twenty-four hr menstruum of hoofing it inward the blaring heat, I asked reception to accommodate scooter hire.
Two hours later, it was delivered to my door, along amongst 2 ill-fitting helmets. No 1 asked to meet my licence (the hotel provided them amongst a re-create of my passport for security); at that spot was no deposit necessary, as well as I could pay the princely total of 170 baht a twenty-four hr menstruum (around $6) at the destination of the hire period. Easy peasy.
Of course, the cute picayune scooter came amongst no instructions – it was upward to me to figure out how to acquire it started, create total it amongst fuel (the tank was below empty on delivery) as well as most of import of all, non crash. Which, when you lot are a total novice as well as petrified, was easier said than done.
Fortunately, the streets of the Golden Triangle where I was staying are really quiet, allowing me the freedom of weaving as well as wobbling on my outset nervous takeoff. Unlike inward Sydney, at that spot are no buses or rabid taxi drivers to debate amongst – exactly other scooters, vendors pushing carts, unruly children as well as dogs dashing from the kerb. I solely had to locomote virtually 5 kilometres on my outset outing – exactly 1 road, amongst solely a few bends as well as generally inward reasonable condition. Although I held my breath the whole way, it was mission accomplished – as well as earlier long, I was pottering all over town, fifty-fifty taking my picayune infant off-road onto dirt tracks.
Chuffed amongst my achievements, I before long ventured farther afield, putting me inward the path of actual traffic. I fifty-fifty had to halt at lights a span of times. Once I had to slam the brakes to avoid a van pulling out without indicating.
They may drive on the left inward Thailand, but that’s where whatever similarity to Australian route rules ends. Firstly, at that spot are no discernable rules: pocket-size vehicles give means to larger ones; no 1 indicates; as well as a cerise low-cal must hateful go, as no 1 seemed to halt at them except me. Everyone drives similar a lunatic – at to the lowest degree I was inward skillful company.
One peril I didn’t risk upon, however, was other travellers who had hired motorbikes amongst no licence or experience. In pop backpacker destinations, such as Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan as well as Koh Chang, it’s some other story. Tourist on bikes are everywhere; many are young, stupid as well as oft drunk. Most are Europeans or Americans used to driving on the other side of the road. Few apparel helmets. Most apparel shorts as well as thongs, as well as are carrying as scantily clad passengers. And many destination upward as route kill.
The statistics for motor cycle accidents inward Thailand are sobering. On average, 38 people expire per twenty-four hr menstruum from motor cycle accidents inward Thailand; inward 2008, at that spot were nearly 60,000 motor cycle accidents. In Phangan, the ultimate political party island, terminate as well as gravel rash scars are known as “the Phangan tattoo”. Every local has a tragic storey virtually a visitor who ended upward amongst encephalon harm or horrendous injuries.
A calendar week after my breakthrough inward the Golden Triangle, I arrived inward gorgeous Koh Chang, determined to go along my motorbike adventure. I took 1 await at the road, however, as well as forthwith changed my withdraw heed – although at that spot is solely 1 route exactly about the island, it is a rollercoaster of treacherous curves, stupefying hills as well as blind corners where mini vans, songthaew taxis as well as bikes hassle for speed rights. Scooters carrying 2 or 3 unhelmeted passengers are oft forced off the route yesteryear impatient vans; as well as fifty-fifty amongst an opened upward road, they barely build the inclines earlier hurtling downwards the other side, wobbling over potholes as well as wonky verges.
It’s decease on wheels, as well as there’s no means inward the globe I would recommend whatever novice hitting this detail road… unless they desire to acquire out business office of their encephalon embedded inward its surface.
(the craziness that is Koh Chang’s roads)
Having witnessed the chaos on Koh Chang’s ringroad, I cautiously refused the offering of scooter hire on its idyllic picayune sis island, Koh Kood, instead setting out on human foot to walk the “five-to-ten kilometres” to a waterfall (the latter existence the to a greater extent than accurate estimate.) By the fourth dimension I reached the master copy road, 1 kilometre from base, I realised I’d made a fault – the roads on this peculiarly isle are build new, inward perfect condition, as well as absolutely deserted. Although the roads are steep, at that spot is no other traffic to debate amongst – I would have got been absolutely fine.
When it comes to scooter hire inward Thailand, the bottom business is: piece of job your head. If you’re non licensed, this is non the identify to learn. Furthermore, an unlicensed driver is an uninsured driver, as I discovered solely on checking my policy after I returned home. In retrospect, I was stupid. I implore you lot non to live too. Life’s likewise bloody short.
On returning to Australia, I forthwith booked into an RTA pre-learner motorbike rider’s course of written report as well as received my learner’s permit. Six months as well as enough of roadtime after on my daughter’s scooter, I took some other compulsory day-course to have my Ps. I volition at nowadays live on my provisional licence for a yr earlier gaining my total license. Very picayune drama to ensure I am experienced as well as covered for my adjacent scooter sense inward Thailand.
DOs AND DON’Ts FOR MOTORCYCLE HIRE IN THAILAND
DO acquire your motor cycle licence earlier you lot acquire out Australia. It’s stupid to restrict on mutual frigidness as well as unprepared. Also, your locomote insurance volition non encompass you lot if you lot are non properly licensed. My policy reads: “We volition non pay nether whatever circumstances if your claim arises from existence inward command of a motorbike (or scooter or moped) without a electrical flow Australian motorbike licence or you lot are a rider travelling on a motorbike that is the command of a individual who does non concur a electrical flow motorbike licence valid for the the world you lot are travelling in.” Whoops.
DO accept out locomote insurance earlier you lot acquire out home. Unlike auto hire, at that spot is no selection for extra coverage on hiring.
DO apparel a helmet – it is against the constabulary non to.
DO inquire a long-term ex-pat if it’s advisable to hire a scooter – you lot may acquire an honest answer. Thai locals, bless them, volition ever tell it’s safe. After all, they piece of job their scooter as the household unit of measurement wagon, carting their spouse, 4 or 5 children, the shopping, an umbrella as well as diverse items of slice of furniture on whatever given trip. It’s a means of life.
DO encompass upward as much as possible inward illustration of an accident. Jacket, long pants as well as shut toe shoes are the sensible option.
DO cheque for harm to the bike earlier hiring, otherwise you lot may live scammed for repairs.
DON’T paw over your passport for safety – insist on a photocopy existence taken.
DON’T acquit passengers unless you lot are experienced as well as licensed to create so.
DON’T drinkable or accept drugs if you lot are driving. You may live on holidays, but the rules from abode should soundless apply.
DO cheque the fuel gauge. Don’t assume the hirers volition paw it over amongst a total tank. It’s to a greater extent than than probable to live empty.
DO live careful going exactly about corners – stone oil slicks are mutual on Thai roads. Also live careful on dirt roads inward the moisture – if the tyres clog amongst mud, you lot tin slide out on braking