Lessons of the Road #3 – When God says No!

by Poi on March 28, 2011

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Welcome to issue #3 of Lessons of the Road, in this series we tell you our biggest mistakes with the hope that you can learn from our stupid errors.

The mistake this time round was not reading the signs. Before our latest adventure we were given 3 clear signs not to continue and yet we ignored them until the final sign left us in no doubt what so ever that is was never meant to be.

This story takes place in Pakse, Laos, not the most exciting place in the world but like most other backpackers in this area we had come to explore the bolivian plateau by motorcycle.

The Signs

Rented motorbike in Laos#1. The bike wouldn’t start, this had been a problem the previous day but we thought the shop had fixed that. After about twenty minutes we were finally able to get the bike started after many, many kick start attempts. Not fancying dealing with this every time we stopped we took the bike back to the shop.

#2. Whilst getting the first problem solved at the rental shop the next setback came about, a flat rear tyre out of nowhere as the bike was just sitting there. The shop took the bike away and we were left to wait for around twenty minutes, our early start all but out the window.

#3. After finally setting off we were both in a great mood…. until, after about thirty minutes the bike began to shake violently, I had no doubt it was another flat tyre, and we had only just after passed the city boundary! It was the rear tyre again, the one the shop had supposedly fixed, or maybe just pumped up? Luckily for us it happened right outside a car garage who said they could fix it.

30 minutes and 50 pence later we were back on the road. It was already lunch time and we should have been at our first stop, we were hours behind and should have probably postponed the whole thing by a day.

But…We didn’t and ten minutes down the road we were lying on the ground.

As the road changed to gravel I tried to turn and get onto the smoother section, I felt the bike slide and had to straighten up. Unable to turn I began to slow down but it was too late.

The bike slipped right away from under us and I took most the pressure on my elbow which immediately swelled up while a wide gash on my hand did took care of the bleeding side of things.

Motorbike crash injury in Laos

My elbow is not usually that shape…

Kirsty landed directly on me but also cut her hand and knee pretty bad. Within seconds of falling Kirsty turned to me and said “now it’s definitely time to call it a day!” After calming down from a bit of shock and picking as much of the gravel out of our hands with our fingers as we could. We proceeded to rip my shirt to pieces to create a makeshift bandage for my hand – it wasn’t my best look.

The bike worried me most but only suffered a bent pedal and some scratches. After a few kick starts (yes it still didn’t really start properly) we started to head back, slowly, very slowly.

Without anywhere to stay that night, we discussed treating ourselves to a nice looking hotel Kirsty had spotted earlier that day. Entering reception we looked a little out of place covered in blood and with ripped clothes but it didn’t seem to faze the reception staff and within minutes we had booked into a £20 a night room.

Crash wounds in Pakse Laos

Kirstys knee and hand

Then came the painful task of returning the motorbike. We were expecting the worst, assuming that we would be ripped off and there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. The lady couldn’t speak much English but seemed to be more concerned with our wounds and if we had injections than the bike. She gave someone a call and pointed out all the damage we had done and they agreed a figure. The damage would come to whopping 50,000 kip… we were shocked, £4! We had ruined her bike and she was going to charge us £4!

So overall our little bike crash cost us:

– Repairs £4
– Nice swanky hotel room £20
– Nice swanky meal £10
– And some very hurt pride

Although we were unlucky to have the crash, as crashes go we were pretty lucky. We didn’t need any hospital treatment nor did we have to pay a shed load of money to repair the bike.

We should have read the signs and given up after the three warnings but instead we ended up with a body full of cuts and bruises or, as I like to call them, an excuse to stay in a posh hotel for a couple of nights and head down to the 4000 islands sooner to do nothing in a hammock all day.


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

South America ME March 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

At least the injuries weren’t worse.

You are right that sometimes you are just NOT supposed to be doing somethings and things get in your way to stop it.

It’s like how I was only supposed to be in Chile for two weeks and I was literally waiting for a bus to go by to pick me up and take me to where i could get a transfer to the airport. Normally they pass by every 30 seconds or so. After 10 minutes not one went by. A friend came out of the house nearby (probably to see if I had gone) and called out to me. She said, maybe you are supposed to stay. If you can change your flight stay, if not, go.

14 years later I am still here.
Rob W.
South America ME´s last blog post ..My Photography Story


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:31 am

Wow yeah you really were not meant to catch that bus – quite the story just think how different it could have been.


Gillian @OneGiantStep March 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Thank goodness you are both okay! Then again, it’s not really a motorcycle story if there isn’t a crash! Take care.
Gillian @OneGiantStep´s last blog post ..FollowFriday 25Mar2011


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:32 am

Exactly a ride without pain would be a pretty terrible story.


Kristin March 28, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Yes – Thank God it wasn’t worse. Such a valuable lesson of travel – when the universe is sending signs like that – pause and reconsider. Onto new adventures though and hope you heal Ok.


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:33 am

All healed up pretty well and it’s not put me off so looking forward to next time.


Andrea March 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Oh no! So glad it wasn’t too much more serious…
This is why I never hire motorbikes, I have no confidence in my driving ability. This wasn’t even your fault! John got injured on one once as well…
Andrea´s last blog post ..How to Have a Jolly Good Time in Valdivia Part Two- Everything Tastes Better With Beer


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:35 am

I really enjoy riding them, we had to ride the bike back into town so I had no choice but to jump straight back on it which was probably a good thing.

Although I couldn’t really hold on properly because of my hand…


Dalene - Hecktic Travels March 29, 2011 at 12:51 am

EEK! Those are some nasty looking wounds, but it does seem like you were both very lucky that it wasn’t much worse! And didn’t cost much more!

Some days it just ain’t meant to be, unfortunuately…
Dalene – Hecktic Travels´s last blog post ..The Definition of Success


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

The worst part was worrying about getting ripped off by the rental shop for repairs so once that was sorted we could tend to ourselves.

As far as motorbike accidents go it was very tame luckily for us.


Skott and Shawna March 29, 2011 at 3:35 am

Glad you two are okay….I’m not showing this post to Shawna….she will never let us rent bikes if I do…. 🙂


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

Haha keep it hidden.


Anthony March 29, 2011 at 5:11 am

” We proceeded to rip my shirt to pieces to create a makeshift bandage for my hand – it wasn’t my best look.”

Extra man points, Rambo.

I hope you’s are both Ok though and that you didn’t injure your football manager hand 😉


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am

haha secretly I loved the look, I felt well ‘ard!

Left hand – not needed.


Annie March 29, 2011 at 7:09 am

Looks painful! I’m glad you guys are okay though!

How great that the bike lady only charged you 4 pounds! And for her to be so kind and concerned about you! Sounds like you are in a great place.
Annie´s last blog post ..California Dreamin’


Poi March 29, 2011 at 8:39 am

It may have been the best place we could have been for something like that to happen, everyone was really great about everything.


Erica March 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Wow – you went all boyscout/MacGuyver with the ripping of the shirt into bandages thing. I am so glad to hear you guys are doing okay.

Random question – are your tattoos okay Poi?
Erica´s last blog post ..Departure


Kirsty March 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm

It was one of the first things I said to him “OH NO it’s your tattoo arm!!!!”, there was a cut in between the eyes of one of the monsters but it healed really well and now you can hardly see it. Luckily that was the only cut on that part! 🙂


Natalie March 29, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Ooh. Bad injuries. Sometimes it is better to pay attention to the signs that appear. Hope you are better now.
Natalie´s last blog post ..Turkish Women – Meet A Mother Called Hatica


Kirsty March 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm

yeah all better, the wounds took a few days to heal but at least it our rest was on the 4000 islands 🙂


Mango Sarah March 30, 2011 at 6:53 am

So glad you guys are ok! Great story about going with the flow and fate… sometimes you’re just not meant to do something. We’ve had similar issues with traveling. One time we missed a plane back from FL and had to drive home, but the nice thing was we took some extra time and visited my sister on the way.

I’m of the mind that things work out the way they’re supposed to!
Mango Sarah´s last blog post ..kilele-Madagascar Rice FieldsPhoto by Remy Saglier


Poi March 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

We were really looking forward to the trip so ignored the signs more than we should have but next time hopefully we’ll realise. It was also lucky our next stop was a real chill out place.

Sounds like your missed flight turned into a blessing.


Satu March 31, 2011 at 12:12 am

Good to hear you’re both ok… enjoy doing nothing in a hammock!
Satu´s last blog post ..Boat Trips on the Kerala Backwaters


Poi March 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

Thanks we’re all good – recovery time has done us well.


Shannon O'Donnell April 1, 2011 at 9:55 am

Those is some wicked road rash…glad you both came out of this okay in the overall scheme of things!


Poi April 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

We’re all good now, I’m thinking next time I need a motocross bike so the gravel won’t be problem. If in doubt get a bigger bike??


Rebecca April 18, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Youch! Glad it turned out the way it did and not worse guys!
Rebecca´s last blog post ..Photo of the Week- Vendor on the Beach- Thailand


Poi April 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm

So are we, we’re all good now!


Katie April 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I found your site randomly while browsing travel blogs. Great content! I will be bookmarking it and look forward to reading more of your articles.


Poi April 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Thanks Katie, glad you like and look forward to hearing more from you!


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