People think it’s strange when they find out how long I’ve been in Thailand and that I still haven’t mastered the art of the motorbike. Well if those people saw me on the humble bicycle they might start to get an idea why I haven’t embraced the 2 wheels and probably never will.
It’s not that I haven’t tried – even five years ago when I first first came to Thailand travelling, I rented a moped in Pai and failed spectacularly at riding it. I just lost all ability to control my limbs, my balance, to distinguish from left and right – all basic motor skills were null and void as I hurtled (can you hurtle at less than 10km per hour?) through the street shouting at the hippies who were walking in the road (I didn’t know where the horn was) that they should GET OUT OF THE WAY BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO. They really shouldn’t rent these things to just anyone. I ended up returning the bike in less than an hour with four times as much fuel in it than when I had taken it.
Fast forward four years and I had just arrived in Thailand on a more permanent venture. Again, I had a go at riding up and down a back road near the hotel I was staying in for my TEFL. All I could think about was how much I had sucked the last time so of course I lived up to my own pitiful expectations of myself and was such a wobbly, nervous wreck that I gave up after about 3 minutes.
And that, dear friends, is my motorbike journey in it’s entirety.
Not riding my own bike means that I have been 100% dependant on T to give me lifts to school and to take me to the shop if I need something. Moving to Phuket made it even more apparent that this wasn’t going to work out if we were both to have our own lives. I have taken motorbike taxis, I have even hitched a ride home from school a few times – but it has been a growing desire of mine to get my own set of wheels… and if I’m unable to handle two, why not go one (or two) better and get four?
I didn’t name him but it suits him so much I decided to continue the tradition. He has spent the past year serving some fellow teachers who are returning home; now it is his turn to be my trusty steed, my key to freedom and my shelter from the rains of the monsoon season that is upon us already.
Second hand cars are not cheap in Thailand, people seem to just get a car and hang onto it forever. Harold was cheap, but Harold is also 20 years of age, is rusty and is lacking in the suspension department. His seats are a little worn and he likes to be warmed up before you ride him (ooh err Betty!) – but I think that despite all of those things, with a little TLC (and a lot of engine oil) this could be the start of a very special relationship.
I smell a road trip on the horizon!