Learning to ride a motorbike in Thailand


Learning to ride a motorbike in Thailand.

In 2009, I mounted a motorcycle for the first time. I made Mat take me. I was screaming before I even got on. 40 feet later I yelled at him to pull over, jumped off, and ran away.

Learning to ride a motorbike in Thailand

Jenny remarked the other day that I seemed way more comfortable on the back of her bike than I had last time I was here in January. She wondered if I had ridden them a lot in India, but I hadn’t. Not once. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the last time I had been on the back of anyone’s motorbike it had been hers.

But I think, over time, everything I am doing is giving me more confidence in everything else.

I mentioned to her, when we went out to dinner on my last night in Chiang Mai, that I was thinking I might try to rent one in Pai. Everyone says you need one there anyways to get around. So, maybe I would try it.

She said that I should practice first, and offered to teach me. So, after dinner we found a temple parking lot to practice in.

The whole thing was funny, really, learning to ride around a golden Buddah, passing monks. There was a man in uniform standing guard, and he watched and gave direction when a car was coming our way.

It was hard, at first, to get the handle of the throttle. It felt jerky. But after a few tries around the roundabout I started to get the hang of it.

The temple was like it’s own little village. There were little streetways, a few cars, turns, speed bumps. It was a nice little place to ride a motorbike for the first time while Jenny ran behind me. It was actually easier going faster than it was going slower. The hardest part was remembering to stay to my left.

By the end of our session, I was already ready to sell my car back home to buy one.

It was a nice end to Chiang Mai. It felt good to accomplish something, to push myself and learn something new. Jenny was excited because I actually did pretty well at it and never freaked out and never gave up. (If you’ve ever tried to teach me anything before, you’ll know that in itself is an accomplishment).

And it was good because I’d been feeling a little down. I hadn’t been feeling like traveling. I’d been depressed about boys. It was almost my dad’s birthday.

After our lesson we chilled at my hostel for a little before she had to go.

And I stayed up, drinking Changs and eating peanut M&Ms, and told everyone that I was leaving the next day. Though, no one really believed me.

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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