Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 293: Roaming Rural Roads

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. Here in Thailand on a motorbike, you’re expected to ride on the left hand shoulder of the road. That is unless it’s a toll road or motorway, in which case you’re simply not allowed to be there at all. It actually works quite well, once you get used to it. Other drivers know where you are and you soon become accustomed to them brushing your right elbow as they speed past you overtaking two or three abreast. It’s a little like riding in London. A lot of people are wary of it, but once you’ve done it for a while you just think that everything is normal.

The main problem with riding on the shoulder, is one of obstacles. Sometimes it’s just sand and debris that’s been swept into your path, and sometimes it’s not. You get used to other motorbikes riding towards you, but sometimes you come across something a little unexpected.

Here, the local growers use the shoulder of the road to dry their chilli harvest during the day. They mark their individual territory with fallen twigs and branches and at night, they sweep the chilli carpet into neat little mounds which are actually slightly more difficult to see. That’s wrong, they’re quite easy to see in the beam of a motorcycle headlight, but in Thailand every motorbike has a carrying basket. Unfortunately, on every bike the basket sits directly in front of the headlight. If you carry anything in the basket at night, not only do you loose the lights beam, but it reflects back in your face and you can see absolutely bugger-all. I used to think that this was a stupid system, I wondered why the Thai’s didn’t carry their crap somewhere else on the bike, but now I’m doing exactly what they do ….. mai pen rai

Once you’ve avoided the oncoming motorcycles, the way too close for comfort speeding cars and the accidental/deliberate debris, you then encounter the road vendors. I first saw this in Russia. You ride along and for a few miles and every stall is selling exactly the same thing. In this photograph it just happens to be melons. After a few miles, the melons stop and the hammocks begin. After a few miles of hammocks, it’s kites then straw hats and then mermaid's nipples. It's quite wierd, but then this is Asia ..... mai pen rai

Then of course you run out of road. Everything for no apparent reason just stops. You’re riding on sand and there are always several tracks to follow. You assume that the most eroded track is the main one, but that’s not always the case. Maybe Sat Nav would be a useful thing, but I prefer just finding out what lies at the end of each track …. mai pen rai

No comments: