I hear the ‘Thud’ and feel a gentle shake of the Yamaha’s rear wheel. Too many years despatch riding, I know exactly what it is. A choice, stop or keep going? I pin the throttle wide open, which on this little thing makes very little difference. The speed increases but the bike is weaving like a pissed ferret. I crash up a gear, get the speed up to it’s maximum and hope that I paid attention in physics. The forces should keep the tyre inflated, I’ve tried it on the Bandit many times before and sometimes it actually works. Tyre walls on a Yamaha Fresh II are not as substantial as those on a Bandit, but at least I don’t crash ... mai pen rai The sleeping man in the hammock tells me one kilometre, possibly two. I figure on three at the very most and wobble my way eastwards to the promised puncture repair man. I know that a puncture repair kit isn’t going to work, the tube has exploded and I’ll need a replacement. Seven kilometres and the sign comes into view. A tractor tyre at the side of the road with the writing ’Yaang’. The tyre man is in the process of fixing a blown tyre on an oil tanker, so I smile and wait until he’s finished.
Ten minutes later, the Yamaha’s tyre is off revealing a huge tear in the inner tube. He strips it out, vanishes for a minute and then emerges from a dark cabinet with a perfectly sized new tube. Within ten minutes, I’m good to go again. “Tao rai?” (how much) …. “Bpaet sip’’ (eighty Baht, £1.60). I can hardly believe it, £1.60 for a new inner tube, fitted to the bike. I don’t ask for a discount, I just pay him 100 Baht and tell him to keep the change. I’ve just made his day. Nobody ever leaves a tip in rural Thailand, it’s just not the done thing … mai pen rai