The Motorbike Gods Are Watching
Like most people, we've learned to get around Thailand on rented motorbikes or mopeds. Usually they cost between $5-7US per day, not including gas. Filling a motorbike up costs about $2US.
Anyway, one thing we've learned is that you never know what you're going to get, so give the bike a good once-over before striking out into the yonder for a two-wheeled adventure. We should have done that yesterday when we picked our Honda Dream.
The island of Ko Lanta Yai has an elongated north/south shape, with the main roads forming a figure eight. It is about 30 kms long and 6 wide.
As we got on the bike, all was well, though it seemed a little loose on the turns, so I was careful not to push it too hard. Sachi rides double with me. We decided to traverse all 30kms of the east coast, about one half of which is dirt road.
As we got on the dirt road at the north eastern side of the figure 8, I thought to myself "Well it would suck to break down here... There's no one around, its in the heat of the day, we only have sips of water and we don't speak Thai."
It was at about that moment that the looseness I felt before turned into all out squirreliness, with the back tire feeling like it was sliding around in mud. Sure enough, the back tire was completely flat and at the furthest point we could be from where we started.
Being at least 7kms from any place that might be able to help us, we jumped on the moped and rode the flat tire all the way up that dirt road at about 5kph, with the tire struggling to remain intact all the way. The locals we did see could only shake their head and point forward as if to say "keep on going, farangs, I can't help, sorry."
Eventually we made it back to the paved road, which was still a good 20kms from the resort- and we still had a flat tire. Our next goal was to find some sort of service station that could help. In the meantime I could picture us creeping down the side road on the metal rim, with the tire having been shredded to pieces, sparks flying everywhere and each person we meet pointing further down the road, farangs.
Then, only 1-2kms from the dirt road, an oasis appeared on the horizon. It was none other than a full service, fully certified, Honda motorbike service center and showroom. We pulled up, pointed to the tire, they immediately jumped into action, replaced the inner tube, charged us $2.50US (yes, you read that price correctly), and we were on our way in about 20 minutes. We could only smile and shake our heads at how easily we averted what could have been a time consuming, possibly dangerous and certainly annoying experience.
For as long as we're in Ko Lanta, that Honda Dream is going to be our motorbike. We know for sure that it has a brand new back inner tube, and handles adversity like a champ. Plus, if something goes wrong, we know where to go.