Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Flying Ferang

A journal entry from Pod

I have spent the last month learning to ride a moped. It's a scary experience for me, but I have had a lot of support and only a few days ago, I rode back from Saladan in the most awful rain, feeling utterly confident.

However....the bike was not working well, it made a strange noise, the brakes were dicky, and I had real problems getting it started. The other day in Kantiang Bay I could not get it to start, so I went and found the Simply Life owner, from whom I have rented the bike on a monthly basis. She advised me to pull out the choke to it's max and sure enough, it started.

Mr "D" my friend and neighbour told me in no uncertain terms it was a crap bike and if I learnt to ride it, I could ride anything. He also advised me to get it serviced, but I never did. There was always something I wanted to do, somewhere I wanted to go. I did not know and forgot to ask which repair man to use. Excuses, excuses, fact is I am ignorant of machines and naively believed that as long as it was running it was O.K.

Four days ago, I wanted to ride to the pier for my morning coffee and quiet time. As usual the bike would not start so I pulled the choke to max and was rewarded with a roar! I put it into second gear and it shot off. I went through the posts and despite my attempts to brake, we carried on. Before you could say "Vroom vroom" we headed straight for sea wall at about 20km per hour.

Trajectory: through the posts

I real*eyesed we were going in, there was no stopping this scenario. We sailed into the air, and dived into the sea in a sort of magnified moment out of time that still replays in my mind. I landed sitting in one of the three tyres which at that stage were floating in the half tide (they have since disappeared) Somehow I managed to throw myself off the bike mid air, but left my right leg out sideways still pressing hopelessly on the brake pedal.

Point of entry

Strangely, I felt no fear going in, just a sort of surrender. As I sat there in the sea, the water to my waist, the bike now silent, I asked myself curiously "I wonder what happens now?" Then I remembered my camera, still in my bum bag and in the sea. I took the bag off and rescued the camera.

A young woman had seen the whole thing, and came to help me get out. It was a struggle. My neighbours appeared and a young man wheeled my bike out of the water, taking it under the bridge and around the other side. Of course people stopped and a small group gathered. I smiled and flapped my arms "Flying Ferang"

Some instinct told me it was vitally important to remain calm and composed with these people, so I refused offers of doctors and hospitals, and limped into my house to call Mr "D" Luckily he was at home, just down the road, still in bed and rather surprised "Hey "Mr "D"....., where are you? I've just driven my bike into the sea" He was there within minutes and took charge, allowing me time to do a quick healing on my leg and shed a few shocked private tears.

My bike was wheeled a few doors down the road to the local "bike man" and within three hours it was back on the road and running better than ever. Cost: 480THB (£7.30)

The moped was in such bad shape before the swim, that I suspect it was either a suicide attempt or a last ditch effort to get some TLC. With new brakes, a new front tyre (the old one was bald) new oil as it had less that 10mls in it and a new ball bearing somewhere, she purrs gratefully. I did a victory lap round the town, and then spent two days off, in a strangely dislocated and grateful state of awareness. The worst had finally happened and it was not so bad.

I feel very blessed. Not two foot away from the tyres is a large piece of concrete. I could have landed on that. I could have hit the large metal pipe that spans the estuary. The tide could have been out. Any number of things could have been far worse. My camera is functioning perfectly. My leg is much better, though still stiff.

Once again, I am reminded of the huge disparity between Thailand and the U.K. Perhaps laws would have stopped me being able to rent such a wreck in England, but accidents happen even when everything is functioning well.

No doubt the locals murmur "Stand clear" when they see me coming, but I have received nods and smiles too, as I ride past.

Most of all, no police, no insurance, no forms to fill in, no stress, no punishment.

I feel much more confident just living now, because I know that I can make a mistake and it will just be rectified. In the U.K if I make a mistake, even unknowingly, there is always a punishment, usually financial. I never real*eyesed before what stress that created in my life.

So I fully understand why my soul created this escapade for me and kept me safe throughout. I will never ride an un-serviced moped again and I am letting go of the unconscious worrying about life that I have always carried.

It has also been the cause of much merriment too, so have a laugh and celebrate for me and with me.


Cashier No.5 said...

are you the new evil knevil, luck u didnt break anything except the bike.
amusing story

Anonymous said...

I cant believe that you didn't get hurt. That is a scary story, but funny. You must be adventurous. You should check out this tie I just joined, It is a cool site for serious travelers. I am enjoying it so far.


Sell your House said...

That was hilarious!
We need more of people like you in the world!

Rasheed Hooda said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I just realized this story is a year told. Why haven't you been writing?

PS I love the name of your website.


Catherine said...

You are very brave to have rented a motorbike while in Thailand. They are notorious for being total pieces of cacca, causing many injuries to expats.

But I loved your storytelling regardless :-)

interexchange said...

The blog is very scary the things that happen is shown in this blog:(