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Life in Chiang Mai


Racing home to beat the rain

By Heather Allen
I went out tonight on my little motorbike and thought to race home and beat the big black clouds that covered the horizon. As I sped along I reflected back on the two young Varee School teenagers that were killed on their motorbike as they waited at the stop light and thought, does it really matter if I get a little wet? I slowed down.
In a town filled with people on motorbikes well know the risks we take riding around on one. Many car drivers don’t seem to see the bikes on the road and drive as if there was no one there. But of course, someone is there. A good friend of mine was struck by a truck as she drove down the road, he was pulling out into the road and didn’t bother to look that a motorbike was there. She broke her collarbone. She was lucky, the driver was a decent, responsible person who took her to the hospital, repaired her bike and paid her hospital bills. The teenagers who were killed near Central Airport were not so lucky, the person who hit them drove off and left them lying in the road. Every motorbike driver’s worst nightmare and a not uncommon occurrence in Thailand.
Another friend of mine was struck from behind, as were the teens, his motorbike flew off into a nearby field and the woman who hit him left him there. Luckily some kind Thai people passing by saw the accident and stopped, ran out into the field and got him to a hospital. The woman showed up the next day, my friend said she had called around to hospitals to see if a foreigner had died, when she discovered he was not dead, she showed up to pay the hospital bills.
Other friends have had accidents, and some not so minor, from unseen potholes, sand on the road and aggressive songthaew drivers. We all face the fear of accidents but it is true that the convenience of a motorbike makes it almost irresistible sometimes. I can always find a place to park; I am never stuck in traffic as I can go up the side of the road down the middle. I must say, however, that I personally have never driven on the pavements but it is tempting sometimes.
I will continue to drive my little motorbike in spite of my friends’ accidents and in spite of the high accident rate that bike riders face, but I must admit, I feel like I have won the lottery every time I make it home in one piece.


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Racing home to beat the rain