Thai Life

 

Have Bike, Will Travel

It’s a fact that if you’ve got a bike, you’re gonna be going places no matter where you are.

Thailand is no different. You’re out of the tuk-tuk loop, the taxi-blag and the baht bus rumble.

No longer do you have your hand in your pocket every time you want to get from A to B.

Ok sure you can get around some of distance problems by living in the middle of a town or city, but lets face it, if you’ve been living in anywhere that’s a tourist den you really don’t want to be dwelling there long-term. City centres are for workers, tourists and general entertainment stuff. Good to go there to getting in there, getting your work done or whatever turns your groove. Not so good for living in for any length of time. I’m sure the young, the desperado’s, the extrovert’s and the noise machines out there may disagree but that’s another story.

I’m being sweeping in my generalisation but for the times we’ve been around Thailand, the clued up expats know that it’s in the outskirts or outer parts of a town or city where the good life and biking fun is.

You can be out of the province with ease and on the road in no time. Stuck in a busy town or city trying to elude the traffic hordes can be a pain, especially on a big bike.

No longer do you have the rental conundrums and doubts buzzing about your head:

How much will it be next month?

Is this machine reliable?

Is my passport safe?

What insurance (if any) is there on the machine?

Will there be some hustlin’ about fictitious damage when I come to return it?

If there is and I don’t want to pay what happens if they keep my passport?

I’m not pretending that owning a bike in thailand, big or small is always easy. But it’s a damn sight less stressful than paying dead money to a dealer/trader each month when you own the machine outright...

You can be on the road traveling to some far-off Thai city knowing:

I’ve paid for my own insurance and road tax.

I’ve made sure the bikes roadworthy. No big government telling me I need to get an inspection sorted. I get my own on done!

I’m master and commander of my journey and no-one’s stopping me. No need for a big clunkin’ bus or rickety train you’ve no control of when you can ride!

Fuel bills go down, traffic congestion is a breeze and you’re not stuck in a metal coffin staring out of the wind-screen on every journey you make.

When you arrive at a place you’ve made it! It isn’t just a place on the map, but somewhere you’ve braved the roads and highways to get to and now you’re here!

Night falls and you’ll be wanting to get out there and explore the night scene.

Walking could take too long, getting some baht bus might mean you don’t know where you’ll end up. There’s your bike, you’ve got the independent means to explore and see what’s what. Have a few drinks, chat to the girls or whatever you’re adventuring ways muster!

One of the best things about bike ownership, especially big bike ownership is you’ve joined a class of like-minded people who like to ride around also.

In Thailand, as soon as you’re on a bike of something above 150cc that isn’t a scooter, you’ve stepped closer to being in with the other biker gangs and clubs.

I’ve had it where, whilst tourin’ in the deepest darkest places of the South of Thailand we had a problem with one of our machines. All it took was a single phone call to a friendly biker gang HQ and within 15 minutes we had a lone rider show up to help out.

That’s part of what owning a bike in Thailand is all about when someone comes and helps you on your way.

Sure there are some stupid, arrogant w*nkers who slur the biking brotherhood but for the most part being with bikers in Thailand is a cool thing and the ones that ruin it for the rest are in short supply.

You don’t need some fancy shiny Toyota Fortuna SUV which costs an arm and a leg, or a lifetime on loans either to see the sights.

Ok, you can tour in a car, but can’t explore with one like with a bike. Being outside a sheltered and enclosed box means you’re ‘in’ the environment you’re traveling through;

You’re breathing, smelling and feeling the feed-back from the road and the land. You’ll see things a bit quicker, react that bit quicker and maybe lock-on to a hardly-used track or turning.

Where does that go? I don’t know but let’s find out!

Car man might try that same move but end up stuck or struggle to turn around if it’s a dead end. Biker just either moves through the gap or does a little u-turn and it’s back on the road again.

Car man will stress and fume at the heavy traffic, the endless traffic lights and watch helplessly as the bikes just stream between the gaps to wait ahead of him or even pull off some cheeky ‘left-hand u-turns’ to cheat at the lights.

In the event of a breakdown you can often self-rescue on a bike, but not with a car. Cars, especially modern ones, have become over-sophisticated. The engines are more complex, more difficult to work on and have a heck of a lot more to go wrong with them.

With bikes it’s a different tale. The Thai’s are big believers in using bikes to get around. If they see you having problems, maybe a dropped machine or a heavy bike to reverse, they’ll usually come and give you a hand.

If you’re broken down in a car it’s not as easy. Sure, some Thai folk will come and help, but nowhere near as many as a bike. Don’t forget that down to almost every thai village and hamlet, there’s a mechanic or grease monkey to get stuck in and help you out.

Just get out there, ride and explore Thailand. Believe me you won’t get anything done stuck in a rut, moping around your room and using local transport to get around localsville for months on end.

Some worry about biking and it’s problems. Not us, we’ve kept a positive mental mindset about riding bikes ever since we arrived on Thailands shores all those years ago and aren’t about to let it go now...

 
Farang columnist Johnny BThis section is compiled by our resident biker in Thailand - WR

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Chang Mai Province Phitsanulok Bangkok Koh Tao Koh Pang Yan Koh Samui