Cars vs. Motorcycles

With so many problems with my car, I had no choice but to have it sent to the garage. The bad news is that it will take two weeks. That is a long time without wheels. Getting around locally isn’t really a problem. I walk to school anyway. Plus the Big C hypermarket is only a five minute ride by songtaew. This used to be a fixed price of 5 baht per trip but it has recently gone up to 7 baht. Further afield I would have to go by taxi rather than public bus. I find it difficult standing up in buses as I have to tilt my neck in order to stand straight. Taxis here are not really that expensive compared to back home. Actually, I don’t think I have ever been in a taxi in the UK as it was too expensive. Here I don’t really think twice.

The only problem we will have over the next two weeks are the trips to the post office. Panrit is the person who makes up the orders for the Thai Hypermarket Shop. However, I have to take him to the post office in my car. He crashed his motorcycle for the last time a year or so ago. So, we decided it was time that the company bought its first vehicle – namely a motorcycle! This would mainly be used for trips to the post office and other local errands. It also crossed my mind that I might use it myself. However, I have never actually ridden a motorcycle before!

The other day, we went to the Honda dealership up near the giant three-headed elephant. Our local motorcycle shop was only interested in monthly payments and I wanted to pay cash up front. Panrit’s father suggested we should try the Honda dealership as they had good prices. In the end we bought a second-hand bike in good condition for 35,000 baht. We bought it in the company name and as I am the company director I also had to show my passport and work permit.

I was still keen to ride it myself so we inquired about what I needed to do to be able to ride legally. I was hoping I could either just use my Thai driving license or at least use that to get a motorcycle license. But, no such luck. They said I would have to take a written test and a driving test! As usual I hesitated about what to do next but before I knew it, Panrit went ahead and signed me up for a driving test two weeks from now! Oh, OK. But you do realize I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle?

My other problem is a helmet. I told you before about my big feet, well, I also have a rather large head. I just cannot buy baseball hats here in Thailand and have to have them imported from abroad. Wearing helmets is now compulsory in Thailand though many people don’t wear them in the evening after the policemen have gone home. Fortunately they had a XL helmet which was just big enough. So, I was signed up for a driving test and I had a helmet. All I needed to do now was learn how to drive. Honda had a two day course which I would do before I take the test but there is no way I am going to show up only to fall off my bike at the first corner!

Later that day, I got back to the office before Panrit. By that time it had started to rain a little. I was sitting there watching tv when Panrit came back and drove the motorcycle straight into the living room. He said there was no way he would leave it outside for people to steal. I made a mental note to buy a chain. I don’t really want people riding a motorcycle around the living room. I know this is Thailand and this is normal practice, but I rather keep the bike chained up outside.

The next day Panrit took me out to practice riding the motorcycle. I told him I wanted to go to Bangsaen 2 which is a quiet deserted location alongside the Gulf of Thailand. I hadn’t been there for a while and so I was surprised when we turned up and found this rather large housing estate where before there was an empty field. These last few years houses have been going up everywhere. Luckily, not all of these houses had been sold yet so we were able to find a quiet stretch of road where I could attempt to ride the motorcycle.

I was confident that I could do it. After all, I had often seen 7 year old kids zooming down the road. If they could do it, then surely so could I! I got on the bike and Panrit gave me a run-down of what to do. To make a long story short, I basically failed my first attempts. I was able to ride it as such but had difficulty changing gears smoothly. I suppose that is something that would come with practice.

I am now in two minds about doing the test in two weeks. Is it going to be worth it? By that time I would have the car back. Also, would I use it that much? Everyone knows that the majority of fatalities on roads are motorcyclists. Then there are the class divisions in Thailand. Some people advised me that someone of my position shouldn’t ride a motorcycle. I hadn’t really thought of that before but it is true. There are certain groups of people that you would never see on a samlor or tuk tuk. They would also never be seen dead on the back of a motorcycle.

At the moment, I think I will do the test. If anything just to prove I can do it. And anyway, you never know when that particular skill might come in use. So, stay tuned for the big motorcycle test! Will I pass or will I fall on my face – literally!!

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