Motorbikes and Chiang Rai

Apr 13, 2011 3 Comments by

I had a few days before Songkran was set to start and decided to spend them in Chiang Rai, a small town just over the border from Laos. It was a super tiny laid back town, a great introduction into Thailand. Most everything to see was situated outside town.The only way to reach them was either by tour group or motorbike. I made friends with a great guy and he offered to teach me how to drive one.

We rented a little motorbike and headed outside town to find a quiet street to learn on. They’re fairly simple machines, gas and brake handles. Easy peasy right? So so wrong. I did ok for about a minute and then everything spiraled out of control. I hit the gas too hard, panicked and forgot how to brake. Careening down this small street I finally crossed over onto the sidewalk and crashed into a fridge. That’s right, I said refrigerator. This poor lady had a fridge outside her house and I plowed straight into it. She came out running with a bottle of iodine and bandages. She pulled me up and started cleaning off all my scrapes, chattering all the time. I couldn’t figure out how I ended up with dirt all over me until I realized I had also run over one of her flower pots. Smashed to little pieces! I tried to pay for it but she just laughed and told me not to drive anymore. Considering I was covered in bruises and blood, I figured she had a point. I decided to just stick to riding the back of the bike, I didn’t need to drive.

We then headed out, me all bandaged up and off to our first stop: a local temple. This thing was super impressive, completely white! It was only after some time you realized it was kinda creepy. There were these hands reaching up from hell and these skulls on top of traffic cones. And inside the temple there were the freakiest murals I have ever seen. They didn’t allow photgraphs and I really tried to sneak one. It showed all these tentacles wrapping around the globe and fires burning and bombs dropping everywhere. It even had the Twin Towers on fire. And while that was disturbing, the worst part was the superheroes interjected into it. Like Neo or Spiderman or Batman. I could not figure out why there was Neo in the middle of all this chaos. Strange strange temple to say the least.

After that we headed out to a local waterfall. What they failed to mention was the 2 km walk up to the waterfall. We both were wearing flip-flops, not the best hiking footwear. Still it was an amazingly beautiful place and super secluded. We were the only foreigners there, with plenty of locals who had come to cool off. Best part was on the way back we decided to stop for some food at a local riverside cafe. Ok cafe is a bit of a stretch considering it was a bunch of shacks along the river but the food was amazing. Once you get outside the city center ordering food becomes a bit of a challenge since no one speaks english We tried to remember our Thai phrases but eventually just resorted to pointing to the grill where chicken was cooking. Chicken on a stick. Tasty goodness! It was obviously the place to be. It had all these little bamboo rafts stationed in the middle of the river where you ate. Plus they had used sandbags to block up part of the river so children were playing in the man-made lake with inner-tubes. Tons of locals were there with their picnics. It was an awesome view into normal Thai life away from all the tourists.

The next morning before I left for Chiang Mai, we headed out again on the bike. Today’s destination was temple complex high in the mountains outside town. And it was super high. At one point the road became so steep that our poor little motorbike couldn’t make it up the hill. I had to hop off and start pushing the bike up the hill. Finally he managed to grab enough momentum to make it to the top. I of course had to run after him on foot. Once we made it to the top, the view was spectacular. Also I don’t think many tourists make it that far since we received some STRANGE looks from the monks. Then it was time to head back into town for my bus to Chiang Mai. We both were scared to get back on the bike, afraid we wouldn’t have good enough brakes to stop us on the decent. Thankfully the little bike proved us wrong and we made it back in one piece!


About the author

One die-hard Mac Geek set on traveling the globe.

3 Responses to “Motorbikes and Chiang Rai”

  1. Drew says:

    When you come home we can try to teach you to ride a bike a little more safely if you want.

  2. Mom says:

    Thank you, Drew!!

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