Throughout this trip we have seen many backpackers hiring mopeds and making the most of their freedom by exploring places outside of town, this is something we’ve wanted to do since we arrived in Vietnam. The problem was neither of us has any experience of riding a one, I didn’t doubt that it would be very easy but my fear was falling off trying to drive away from the rental shop and immediately having the bike taken away and swapped for a hefty bill of damages.
Luckily for us, Christine from Almost Fearless was kind (or stupid?) enough to offer us her moped for a few days as she was leaving for Bali before her months rental was up. This gave me the chance to have a go on the bike without the pressure of lying and telling a shop owner I’d rode before. My first attempt was just outside of the Smith Residence, possibly the slowest ever start on a moped followed by a short loop around the building, nice and easy. I picked up Kirsty for the second loop figuring I might as well get used to having a passenger as soon as possible and off we went. After a couple of loops we headed into town to hit the real traffic, it had to be done sometime so why not in the first ten minutes?
It turns out riding a moped in Thailand is quite easy, it’s not like the UK, if there is space in the road you can use it, just keep up with everyone else and switch between the lanes (I use the term lanes lightly) to get where you want to be. A few people have tried to kill us so far but I guess that is part of the fun?
On the first full day with the bike Kirsty happily signed us up for the 100km Samoeng loop around Chiang Mai, she thought this would be fine but then again she wasn’t the one driving (thank god – I’ve been in a car with her before!)
Our company for the day were kind enough to take it slow, especially seeing as two out of the four of us were new to riding bikes and most of the journey mainly consisted of steep uphill and down hill sections. After a short while I was happily flying down the hill trying to keep up with the Got Passport Family who took the fast turns with ease while I expected death at every corner. By the time we reached the last stretch home we all had to stop and get off the bike to rest our backsides, it had been a long day but a great way to get used to the bike.
A few days on and we had got so used to having the bike we decided to rent it ourselves for another month, at 1,500 baht (about £30) you can’t complain. I’m driving like a Thai person already after such a short time, squeezing through gaps and flying across lanes. Kirsty thinks I’m getting a bit too big for my boots but it’s just the way people do it here and if you don’t do it that way you’ll be going nowhere fast. I still wear a helmet though which is not so popular here despite it being the law……
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